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Retaining Temple Awe & Wonder: Thoughts from an Experienced Temple Worker

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I was done.

For nearly 3 years, I had served in the Provo City Center Temple as a shift coordinator and I was exhausted. The calling, while fulfilling and humbling, followed prior years of service in the temple on a challenging day at a challenging time. It was time for another phase of life and what felt like a much-needed rest. As my release arrived, I determined I would stay a month or so longer to help the new shift coordinator transition into her role and then officially end my service as a temple worker.

That was March 2020. And, as you can guess, everything suddenly changed.

Within a week, temples would indefinitely close as the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the country. The Church released a plan to reopen temples later that summer. As a young, healthy worker with years of experience, I was one of the first brought back. I continued to work through multiple phases of reopening.

By the time we returned to something that resembled normal operations, we were well into 2021. Many from our shift had left. Policies were new and scores of workers needed training. I was asked to stay.

I felt a duty to heed that call, to help rebuild a sacred community of workers who felt confident in their service. Through it all, I asked the Lord’s help; I was still exhausted. Week after week, month after month, year after year, I did all I could to remain joyous in my service and grateful for the privileged opportunity to serve in such a special way.

It is now 2024 and I continue to serve in a leadership capacity in the temple, though that time is fast coming to a close as I prepare again to transition to the role of a patron.

As I’ve reflected on the sweeping counsel in our most recent General Conference to deepen our commitment to our covenants and attend the temple, I’ve thought about the lessons I’ve learned in retaining awe and wonder for the House of the Lord.

There were times when my service in the temple felt rote. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t have a good attitude. At the worst of it, I was so burned out I felt anxiety and panic, counting the moments until I could rush back out the doors. I’ve prayed to know what to do.

If you struggle to attend the temple or to find awe and meaning in your service, here are some lessons I’ve learned.

Prepare Physically & Spiritually for Time in the Temple

I loved the words of Elder Ulisses Soares in Conference:

“If we change our preparation to enter the temple, we will change our experience in the temple, which will transform our lives outside the temple.”

In today’s busy world it can be difficult to prepare for the temple. We often rush from one thing to the next. Taking time to physically and spiritually prepare ourselves can sweeten our experience and make us more receptive to the spirit of the temple.

Physically, we can make time to ponder before and after our temple worship. We can be well-rested and well-fed. Errands can be completed and phones can be turned off without worry.

Spiritually, with this time we’ve created, we can pray for the Lord to help us be endowed with power. Focus on a question that is on your mind. Create a sense of stillness.

As Elder David A. Bednar taught:

“I believe the Lord’s admonition to ‘be still’ entails much more than simply not talking or not moving. Perhaps His intent is for us to remember and rely upon Him and His power ‘at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in.’ Thus, ‘be still’ may be a way of reminding us to focus upon the Savior unfailingly as the ultimate source of the spiritual stillness of the soul that strengthens us to do and overcome hard things.”

Vary Your Temple Experience

Doing the same thing over and over again isn’t a great way to feel inspired.

For the first time in a long time, I attended the temple as a patron and did sealings. It refreshed my soul! Doing something different from my normal temple routine made me excited to be there.

We can renew our temple experience by:

  • Rotating through the different ordinances of the temple
  • Visiting a temple we haven’t been to before
  • Doing all of the ordinances for a family card in one day
  • Bringing friends and creating traditions
  • Look for specific principles when we attend
  • Study about the history and purpose of temples
  • Learn more about the temple you’re attending

Ponder and ask the Lord what you can do to make your temple experience more meaningful.

Bring Family Names

Church leaders have repeatedly counseled the importance of the Spirit of Elijah and how it can impact our time in the temple. In October 2012, the First Presidency released a letter that included this statement:

“When members of the Church find the names of their ancestors and take those names to the temple for ordinance work, the temple experience can be greatly enriched.”

Learn more about family history work and prepare names of the temple. There are many amazing resources out there. It can be as simple as logging into your FamilySearch.org account and seeing what names are already in your tree that need work done.

You may also want to find someone in your church community who has family names that need help, especially if they are unable to attend the temple.

Serve as a Temple Worker

Though my experience as a temple worker has been a journey, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It has completely changed how I feel about the temple. If time permits, consider serving in the temple. It will give you a new perspective on the ordinances and increase your appreciation for the work of God.

There are many different ways to serve in the temple. Talk to your church leaders or contact your temple for more information. If you are unable to serve, see if there is a time when you can help clean the temple or assist in some way on a limited basis.

Remember Our Privileges

I am privileged to live in Utah, where temples abound. When one temple closes, I can attend another within a 15 minute drive. It is so important for members with easy access to temple to remember the great privilege we have. Some people around the world dream of attending the temple for themselves. Some are only able to attend the temple once in their lives. Some can only make limited visits. We should cherish the time we have in temples and thank the Lord always for the opportunity to be in His house.

Keep Jesus Christ at the Forefront

Ultimately, temples point us back to the magnificence and glory of Jesus Christ. By keeping His atoning sacrifice at the forefront of our minds, we can grow in our tender feelings about the temple.

I know the reality of feeling tired of temple service. It isn’t something to be ashamed of. However, it is an opportunity to reflect on how we can retain our wonder and awe. What things have you done to make your time in the temple more meaningful?

Join the Discussion!
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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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