For Latter-day Saints, attending the temple is meant to represent a beautiful communion with God. The House of the Lord offers peace, guidance, and a chance to be nearer to heaven than anywhere else in the world. However, some members of the Church who struggle with mental illnesses can find visiting the temple difficult. Various causes, including small rooms and large groups of people, can heighten feelings of anxiety and discomfort. What is meant to be a spiritual and peaceful experience can turn into a painful and guilt-ridden time.
Jesus Christ is aware of our struggles and wants his house to be a place of joy and rest for all who enter it. There are things you can do to enjoy the temple if you have anxiety or another mental illness or condition that makes attending the temple difficult.
Set Aside Time for the Temple
Anxiety and stress are heightened when we don’t have a lot of time. Give yourself plenty of time when you attend the temple. This includes time to travel, time to dress, and time to ponder once inside. Plan ahead of time and clear your schedule. Take time after you exit the temple to sit or walk on temple grounds. By doing so, you’ll have time to relax, breathe, and contemplate the things you learned. When time is eliminated, you are able to attend the temple at a pace that makes you comfortable.
Go When the Temple is Less Crowded
Because of work and family activities, there are some times when the temple is more crowded than others. If being in large crowds makes you nervous, try to visit the temple when it is less crowded. Early afternoons during the week are generally open for everyone. If you work, doing an initiatory or baptism ordinance during your lunch break may be easier. Consider calling the temple ahead of time and asking how busy it has been that day or what time may be best to come.
Focus on Ordinances You are Most Comfortable With
There are many different ordinances that take place within the walls of the temple. Many people feel that they must complete an endowment session for the true “temple experience,” but all the ordinances are sacred and invite the spirit. Focus on the ordinances you feel most able to do. Don’t push yourself out of anyone’s expectations. When you feel ready, try to do a temple ordinance that may be harder for you. Think of ways you can make the situation more comfortable for you. Pray for the strength and ability to fulfill your righteous motivations.
Invite Someone to Go With You
It is hard to be vulnerable and open up about such difficulties, but consider bringing a trusted friend to the temple with you. They can help you stay calm and focused. If you need to take a moment to close your eyes and put your head down, they can be there to make sure you don’t miss anything. Having someone at your side can help you feel more confident when you attend the temple.
Voice Your Needs to Temple Workers
Temple workers are there to help you have a good experience. You should never feel ashamed or guilty for asking for help. Whether you need to sit near the back or get anxious during the ordinances themselves, talk with a temple worker about things they can do to limit the stress and make you feel more comfortable.
You Don’t Need to Be Perfect
Many people feel anxious because they feel they need to do everything in the temple perfectly. While we should always strive to be as exact and correct as possible, God knows we are not perfect. Maybe you slip in the baptismal font or jumble up words or feel physically unable to perform the temple ordinances perfectly. God understands. He tells us to come to the temple anyway. There are workers to help you and the spirit to guide you. You are not interfering in anyone’s salvation or becoming a burden by simply trying to do the best you can.
Seek the Spirit of the Temple Everywhere
The spirit of the temple can be felt in the world around us if we seek it. Studying the importance of the temple and the covenants we make can help sweeten your temple experience and bring joy to your everyday life. The spirit of the temple truly is peace. It may feel impossible, but you can have this spirit with you.