The Salt Lake City Utah Temple has long stood as a symbol of faith and fortitude. Built across multiple decades, sacrificing Latter-day Saints sought to build a temple that would last through the Millennium.
While their efforts were miraculous in many ways, the historic temple has required continual renovation over the years, most recently in the years-long project that will result in major seismic updates and modern technology throughout. The project began in later 2019 and is not expected to be completed until sometime in 2026.
As I’ve watched the progress on the Salt Lake Temple and learned about how these upgrades will truly allow the building to last for years to come, I’ve thought about what it can teach me about my own faith.
From the beginning, there were problems with the foundation of the temple. Brigham Young originally called for the foundation to be built of sandstone. In 1857, President Young had the foundation covered when the Saints learned the United States army was fast approaching Utah. The foundation wasn’t uncovered until 1861. When it was, it was clear the sandstone would be ineffective in bearing the weight of the temple. Large cracks had formed in the stone.
It was decided that the sandstone blocks would be replaced with granite and the footings would be sixteen feet thick. Ultimately, the foundation didn’t reach ground level until 1867.
This sturdy foundation has served the temple well, but is now being replaced with a feat of modern engineering. By using base isolation, the temple will use flexible bearings that will allow the temple to move as a whole during an earthquake, as the bearings absorb much of the shock.
For me, the idea of base isolation has taught me about flexible faith. There have been times in the past when my faith has been so rigid it’s actually hurt my connection with God. One such time occurred when I pondered what it would mean if a promise went unfulfilled in my life. What would it mean if God told me something would happen and then it didn’t? How could my faith withstand that?
That’s when I was reminded of having a sturdy, but flexible foundation. It’s built upon gospel truths, but can move without crumbling as the sways and shocks of life come. I want to say that I have concrete faith that God’s words will be fulfilled, but I don’t think it’s always that simple. There are things I misunderstand, the agency of others, and a general sense that God’s ways are not my ways.
In the introduction to the Gospel Topics and Questions section of the Church’s website, it says, “The mismatch between our hopes and our current reality can be painful.” I’ve felt this pain.
Of course, eventually, all will be fulfilled and made right. But knowing things can and will change, testimonies will be tested, and things may not work out the way we want or think helps me focus my foundation on what is most important—Jesus Christ.