Absence makes the heart grow fonder | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

When I came home from my mission, I immediately got a job teaching at the Senior MTC. Mostly I taught couple missionaries who had been called to go to Romania, but when there weren't Romanian missionaries to teach I taught word processing skills to couples called to serve in mission offices and every Saturday I taught a large group meeting about the temple.

Let me tell you, this was the best job I've ever had in my life because I was paid to go to the temple. Yes. You read that correctly. Part of the deal was to take all the senior couples who were scheduled for that class to a session in the Provo temple, and then meet back at the MTC where we would have our lesson. I was actually required to stop at the MTC before I went to the temple and clock in. I was dating Joel at the time, and he used to joke that I was participating in priestcraft.

Anyway, since it was my job to attend the temple, and I actually received compensation for such hard and difficult work as being spiritually edified, I went to the temple weekly (and sometimes more, if I went on my personal time) during that period of my life. It was wonderful.

Later, I transferred over to the main MTC as a Romanian teacher since there was always Romanian to be taught there. As a part of my transfer, I had to give up teaching my luxury temple class. Naturally, I tried to still go just as often, but that's when I first learned just how much life gets in the way of temple attendance. It's hard.

When Joel and I were first married, I'd say we went pretty often. After all, we really lived within walking distance. But then I got pregnant and sick with Bria and our attendance tapered off since there isn't much of an escape route when you're sitting in an endowment session and you have to throw up. Now.

Then there were the new baby months. Hard to leave her, but we still put forth a noble effort. I think we made it at least monthly. And then I was pregnant with Chloe and the cycle started all over again.

In Arizona, I actually went a few times a month, especially during the 20 month period that I served as Relief Society President. Joel didn't always go with me, but that was okay. I needed the strength and it was important. I continued with that pattern until I was pregnant with Sophia, but still managed to go once or twice during my pregnancy.

As you know, we moved up to Cedar City just 3 weeks after Sophia was born and that's when my life became truly insane. Three children, three jobs for me and three for Joel and maybe three hours a week to see each other. I am embarrassed to admit just how little we actually made it down to the St. George temple, especially because it was about the same time commitment as the Mesa temple was when we lived in Arizona. It just seems harder to drive down to St. George for some reason.

And now we're off to Michigan. Lovely Michigan where the closest temple is about an eight hour drive. And I feel horrible. For the last three years I've had a temple less than an hour away from me and I was even in St. George every Saturday to teach lessons, and yet I never took much advantage of it. When I think of the peace and comfort and blessings I have received in my life when I am attending regularly and often, I feel even more guilty. I am sure much of the insanity I have lived through in this last portion of my life could have been alleviated by simply taking the time to go to the temple each month.

Now I will not have the luxury of just running to the temple whenever I feel like it. I will not have the luxury of procrastinating a temple trip because I am too busy or because gas prices are too high. Attending the temple will take a huge amount of planning, time and money. Worse, it probably won't happen more than once or twice a year. We're trying to make up for lost time and go as much as we can in the 7 weeks we have before we move, but it doesn't change the past.

It's a hard lesson learned, and I write this so that maybe you don't have to learn it. If you are close enough to a temple to attend regularly, do it. No excuses, just go. You need it. I need it. We all need it.

Go.

32 comments :

  1. Wow - 8 hours IS far... We are 3 hours away from the Denver temple, and while it is difficult, we do make it about once a month. We do what we call "tag-team temple work." We take the kids with us on a Saturday, and one of us does an endowment session, while the other of us takes the kids to McDonald's or some other kid-friendly place. After the first person is done, then the other person does initiatories. We take the kids out for dinner afterward, and it's a lot of fun for everyone. It works for us, and I think it has been really good for our kids to see us going to the temple. They actually say to us -it's been a long time since we've been to the temple - when are we going again? And it's fun family time. I have really come to treasure our Saturday trips.

    8 hours away is a lot harder, but you guys will make it work. I think one of the benefits of having to sacrifice more when we go to the temple, is that the Lord blesses us with even greater experiences when we are there.

    ReplyDelete
  2. All of this is true! When Dad and I were going once a week these last months he was off, blessings were poured upon us. I miss the peace that comes when we go so often. But whenever we go, the tremendous feeling of out of the world returns and I am so grateful. I get so many answers there, and knowledge all is in the Lord's hands. I am thankful for your love of the temple Lara!

    ReplyDelete
  3. A good reminder to us all. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Do we ever. I think especially when we have a temple so close it's easy to just take advantage of it. That's what I kept thinking over and over when I was reading the lesson for Sunday. Those Saints were so estatic just to HAVE ONE temple. How would they feel knowing we take it so for granted? I don't know, but I do think especially when we are busy we just need to try harder to go. I used to feel guilty because I worked so much and the kids were with sitters so much anyway, but now that I'm with them almost all the time, I find I go even less. So I think excuses are just that, excuses and there will always be one. Silly human frailties....

    ReplyDelete
  5. My husband and I never see each other! And I need to get more excited to go without him.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm like Kristina, I don't like to go without my husband, but the truth is, when you're there, you're not together at all unless you're doing sealings. Its really pretty silly, isn't it? I need to just find a group of girls who go regularly and make it a thing. Recently we were able to go for no reason other than we had a free Friday night AND a babysitter. Our experience there was so different, not having anything weighing on our minds. We were able to just go and learn. Such a good feeling.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for the reminder, Lara. I need a swift kick in the behind, I guess, even though I've been feeling the need to be in the temple.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for the reminder Rob and I were just think we need to go, this is a great reminder!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the nudge. I live about 7 minutes away from a temple, and I've been trying to up my attendance (which hasn't been stellar of late). This will be extra motivation.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I laughed when you said you lived within walking distance of the Temple in provo. We must be lazy because we always drove.

    And I know what you mean about not using the Temple enough. I always complain about having to go into Mesa. Like it's so far. Although I really can't wait for the new one to be built. It will be about 5-10 minutes from our house.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Jeff or I have been makign it fairly regularly lately. It has been a huge blessing to us, to our marriage. You probably already have it figured out- but if you want to bring the girls over here for a morning or afternoon so you can make it to the temple, my kids love having others to play with, and I'd be happy to help someone get to the temple!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I grew up eight hours from our nearest temple. Now my old stake center has a temple across the parking lot. Here I have a temple anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour a way depeding on which direction you point. And I still make it every six weeks-ish if at all. But you're right, life is only going to get in the way if I let it and I'm sure if I went more often, it wouldn't get in the way at all.

    ReplyDelete
  13. That will be hard to have it eight hours away. I look forward to it and that would be very hard. I even think that I didn't go often enough when we lived in Herriman and that was 20 min away. Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This reminds me of something sad I learned while living in west Texas. When we moved there the Lubbock temple had been operating for about 4 months, previous to that members in the area had to travel to Dallas to attend the temple (about 5.5 hours from where we lived, further for others). There was great excitement for the Lubbock temple to open among the members, and it is a smaller temple where reservations are required. By the time we moved there and attended the temple for the first time in our new home (about 6 months after it was dedicated) there was hardly anyone attending because it was right there within easy distance (we lived about 2 hrs away), and easier to put off. The Lubbock temple has only two ordinance rooms and two sealing rooms, and the ordinance rooms hold about 25-30 people at a time, so you would think it would be busy frequently, and it's sad that it isn't. We need to make temple attendance the priority more in our lives and too many treat it more as a nice diversion from the hectic pace of life than the vital spiritually sustaining necessary part of life that it is.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lara- I know what you mean- from this post. I was a MTC teacher too-for several years- and really loved that job :) Then I was a templer worker for over a year. Now we live over a 100 miles away, and in the midst of having and raising children we rarely make it. I think there is a time and season for everything, and you just do the best you can do :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. When I finished my mission, my mission president counseled me to go to the temple every week (he knew I was going to BYU) until I had my first child. I did pretty good at it, only missed a week here or there, and once my first child was born, I realized how much harder it was going to be to go. Then we moved down South and the temple was 3 hours away and it was REALLY hard to go; we made it 2-3 times a year usually. I am grateful for those years I went so frequently. I think of it as oil in my lamp. I still need to go now, of course, and love it when I get the opportunity. I just have to remember to work hard to make those opportunities happen. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  17. THANK you! I'm ten minutes away, and I have NOT been taking advantage of that fact.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I know. My husband doesn't go to church anymore or the temple. It is so hard to go by myself. I know I should go way more though. Thanks Lara.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love this reminder, thank you. We just talked about temple attendance for GCBC this past week while we studied Elder Bednar's talk, so I've felt the nudge from many directions. Definitely important.

    ReplyDelete
  20. When we lived in Seattle, the temple was exactly six minutes from my house. Six minutes, driveway to parking lot. And the year I was pregnant with my youngest I didn't go to the temple once. I know, pathetic.

    A year later we were transferred to Puerto Rico, and were in the ORLANDO temple district. The only time we went to the temple was when we were in UT on leave - after 2 years on the island!

    I've been there, Lara. Guilt doesn't recapture the lost opportunities. But it is good to remember that most of the church is still hours, days, a lifetime away from the temple. Thank you for the reminder!

    ReplyDelete
  21. It's so hard here but we make a goal for every other month -- with no family and it being fairly far we just don't do it. We need to sit down and map it out. I'm sure there are plenty of people who are willing to watch the kids for us.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks- I really needed that little kick in the pants. We have a temple nearby, in Spokane WA and if the traffic is light, only 45 minutes away. So I am going to set aside some time and get going on a regular basis. For the past year or so we have been going almost only when we had a temple sealing to attend. And since my hub is a bishop, that's pretty often, but not enough.
    :~D

    ReplyDelete
  23. We went earlier this monmth, but when we arrived I looked at my recommend and realized it expired at the end of May. Oops.

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is so true...Especially being in Utah with so many Temples so close. I think I have 3 all within 10 miles now. No excuses. Great reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Really? Eight hours? That is too bad. What is the closest one?

    I too have had periods in my life where I should have done more to get to the temple, but I let weeks and weeks go by between visits. We just repent and try better. You are making your own special place of worship there in your home with your three little ones.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Very great post! I understand exactly what you are saying with the Cedar/St. George thing.

    I have had good intentions to go often, and so far they haven't materialized.

    Anyway, thanks for the reminder.

    I'm glad to learn more about you. All those hours we spent walking, and I never knew you worked at the MTC. :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Great post. I love reading your blog & posts & seeing your amazing pictures.

    I live in Las Vegas where the temple is within a 20 minute drive.

    For a time, when I wasn't huge and pregnant, or nursing my twins, or dealing with PPD, I went weekly with some ladies in my ward. It changed my life. But then some of them moved and I fell out of the habit.

    But still...
    Now, I don't go as often as I could.
    I could be so much stronger, bolder, and spiritually taller if we went more often.

    I know this. And thanks helping me remember.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I so appreciate that we were able to be able to go to the Mesa temple more as it's been difficult here. That's another story for another time.

    But I agree, I so need to go, for my family... Wonderful post, Lara! I have your plate on my "Item of The Week" picture on my sidebar. It is as gorgeous as I remember. Thanks again for telling me the name.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I can relate to those feelings. Our first two years of marriage, Jason and I attended the temple every week. Now, there were occasions where we missed, but 9 times of 10 we were there. It was wonderful! We even enjoyed a calling to serve in the Youth Center of the Mesa Temple. We loved it. Our home was a happier more peaceful place. Our weeks didn't seem so stressful.

    Then Laci was born and life was very full. And, when Jason came, life became evern fuller! It's not that we were finding excuses not to go, it's that we were conscientiously making time for it, either. Looking back, our home wasn't as peaceful and life was very stressful.

    The most eye-opening experience that I had attendning the temple - after a long absence - was feeling like I was a stranger there. I was worthy. But, my memory was not as automatic as it once was, and because of that, I felt uncomfortable and out of place. It was an awful feeling, and I vowed that I would never take so long to get to the temple.

    ReplyDelete
  30. You will do the best you can, won't you? And not feel guilty either. 8 hours is a long way.

    But thank you for this beautiful post!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Lara- I felt the same way when we moved from Mesa. I wanted to kick myself for not going more often when it was only about 25 minutes away. Now we live pretty equidistant (3-4 hours) between three temples: St Louis, Nauvoo and Chicago. Please let us know when you are planning a temple trip and we will meet you and switch off watching each other's kids if you want to. I don't really remember the last time I was in a session with my husband. We do the arrangement that your first commenter explained- it ends up being about a 12 hour trip from departure to arrival back at our home.
    It's been quite a few months for us though, we need to go again. Thanks for the reminder!

    ReplyDelete