Last fall, shortly after starting university a year early, Mary started talking about going to the temple to take out her endowments.
Erik and I just listened, told her it was her own decision, recommended some books and talks. The total show of support. But to each other we said, “Does she have to be in a rush for every adult decision? Doesn’t she want to sit back and just be a kid?”
The answers? Yes, absolutely in a rush. No, zero interest in being a kid.
Most members of our faith choose to go through the temple for their own endowment shortly before serving a mission or before getting married. Yet, I think that tradition may be changing. In General Conference, Sister Jean Bingham said,
“Young adults, you don’t need to wait until marriage or a mission to make those sacred covenants. You can prepare as a young woman to receive the protection and strength temple covenants give as soon after the age of 18 as you are ready and feel a desire to honor those temple covenants.”Jean Bingham, Women’s Session
When we heard that talk, Mary already had a recommend and a date chosen to go to the temple– April 22. The day after her last final.
I did try to talk her into waiting a week or two after finals or maybe until Gabe came home from his mission. We needed time to buy temple clothing, to talk more about the endowment, to prepare her to wear garments…
“I’ve taken the temple preparation class three times,” she told me, “we can buy temple clothing in less than an hour, and I’ve been preparing for years to wear garments. I’m ready to make promises with God; I’m ready for more blessings in my life.”
I stepped aside and let her rush towards so much joy.
She was prepared. Erik and I teach a Temple Preparation class in our Young Single Adult’s which she attended over and over. We use the manual, and supplement it with information from the church website and church handbook.
Temples are sacred, so we don’t talk openly about the temple endowment and you must have a recommend to attend the temple.
In the past, parents and leaders often erred on the side of not telling people anything about the temple before they attended the first time. That lack of instruction often left people feeling confused. In recent years, the church has encouraged much more openness and direction before attending the temple. After all, if you are preparing to make sacred covenants, it’s important to know exactly what covenants you are making before you walk in the door.
We have warm, open discussions around our kitchen table (with Erik’s chocolate chip cookies!). Here are some of the links we use for our class:
General Handbook: Temple Ordinances for the Living (especially section 27.2)
In our first lesson, I always share a short segment of The Crown: Smoke and Mirrors which shows the anointing of Queen Elizabeth II. If you are an instructor, I recommend watching the entire episode to place the scene into context.
So, I knew Mary was well prepared, but I wanted more. I had a dream of gathering all my favorite women for a discussion around our kitchen table. They could share with Mary their insights on the endowment, their feelings about garments, their love of the temple and, most importantly, their love for her. She might not be headed out on a mission or getting married (those have their own traditions and gatherings), still, I wanted her to feel a sense of community, to catch a small glimpse of the many people we have cheering for us in this life.
I think most of us feel somewhat alone on a daily basis. I do. We struggle through our days and aren’t conscious of the people (and angels) who care for us. Recognizing the people who love us is both incredibly humbling and a source of strength.
My friends wrote Mary beautiful, insightful, loving, funny letters. They shared advice, experiences, practical knowledge and encouragement.
She’s never felt so loved. I’ve never felt so loved.
I’m compiling the letters into a book for her to read and reread.
While Mary received beautiful advice and encouragement, others told her they thought she was a little crazy. Most people who questioned Mary going to the temple so young were concerned about weraing garments.
Garments are worn under clothing, but they definitely change what you wear. Especially for women. That cute square neck dress? Nope. That t-shirt with a scoop back? Not going to work. Basically a cap-sleeve top and biker shorts, garments aren’t restrictive, but they are another layer (especially in the heat of summer) and can be uncomfortable until you figure out the sizes and fabrics you like best.
The trade off? Garments serve as a reminder of your covenants to God and as a protection and a shield. For Mary, it’s been an easy transition.
In truth, it’s all been an easy transition. Since that first windy day in April, she’s been back over and over. She’s making plans to visit all the temples in Utah this summer and her enthusiasm invigorates the rest of us.
Yes, she’s young. Yet she’s moving forward in grace and truth, embracing more responsibility, honoring covenants. Why would I slow down my girl who knows her own path so well?
Hurrah! Mary is just beautiful! And I can’t believe her amazing heart. Her love for the temple inspires me!
This is so sweet. Mary is truly amazing and so inspiring to me!
Mary is going to cherish those letters for the rest of her life. Getting all the strong women around her to write her letters was a beautiful idea.