Friday, March 4, 2016

My Sacred Temple and Other Random Thoughts about Religion

While I was on facebook, I saw a post asking for pictures of your favorite temple and why it is your favorite.  I posted this.  It is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Washington, D.C. Temple.  This is a very special place to me.  In our faith, we believe that it is possible to be sealed together as an eternal family.  When I went to the temple with my family, it was me, my husband, my daughter who was only nine days away from her second birthday.  There was also my son, who was three years and nine months old.  If you have read anything that I have written before... you would know that my first child, my son Anthony, was born with a very rare form of Muscular Dystrophy.  We later had another daughter with the same disease, four healthy children (though my son has Aspergers Autism), and we also had a stillbirth at twenty-seven weeks along. That is a story for another time.
My husband was a convert from his Catholic faith.  He told me that we answered a lot of questions that he was not allowed to ask. It seemed to be an easy, and natural process, but he is like that.  If he finds the truth... it comes easy for him to accept.  I also want to say that... I NEVER pushed him in any way to convert.  My father introduced him to the missionaries, and then he did the rest.  It was all quite a surprise to me, because during my teen years I struggled to hold to my faith. In fact, I fell away from the church all together. I believed in God, but I believed that I did not deserve his love, or forgiveness.  Again, that is another story.
We had to wait for a year before we could go to the temple. Of course it took us a bit longer than that... almost four years. For Tony it was important that he had an understanding and faith about what we were going to do, and that he want to participate in the wonderful things that are done there, like baptism for the dead (which is done to give loved ones a chance to accept the church... if they did not have the opportunity in this life.  We fully believe in the afterlife, and the beauty of this process is that they do not have to accept it.  They have choice... even in heaven.
Things that are done in the temple are sacred... not secret.... not secret.  That is something that I really would like to say.  We do not talk about them much, because they are special, very special.  They are God's work and we treasure the work we do there. Have you ever had something that meant so much to you that you would do your very best to protect it..? Have you ever had a moment that you knew was special... and might it just change your life... if you let it?  That is how it is with the promises we make to God and ourselves when we go to the temple.  So for us... what we do there means everything to us.
We worked hard to get there.  We prayed, attended our church meetings, and studied the scriptures and words of our church leaders. We had to prepare before we could go.  It is not about the day so much as it was about making our family permanent and forever. I have been to Catholic mass for those loved ones that we loved so dearly.  Understand, that I fully respect the Catholic faith.  I have no problem with their belief system, however, my only issue, the one that made me so very sad, was when the priest expressed his hope that one day we would be allowed to see our loved one again.  He could only offer hope that God would allow us to know them again.  In my faith, it was not only possible to know them again, but it was possible to be sealed, sacredly as a family... forever. I would never again have to live without my husband and my children... three of which has since passed. That is a comfort that cannot be replaced.  I have faith that this is so.  If you have ever had the opportunity to go through the temple... during the open house... that is open to the public for a walk through... I think that you would have come away with a feeling that you have entered a special place.  It is a place that is set apart, blessed and provided as a place where wonderful, spiritual, and eternal promises are made. This means the world to me and my family.  I miss my children every day.  I long for them in my life, and because of the promises (or covenants) that I was able to make with my family and God... I have hope of a glorious reuniting of not just me and my children, but of me and my family... and all who went before us.  That is a hope and treasure that I do not want anyone... especially not the haters of the world to stomp on.
I have never understood peoples need to crush someone else's spirit.  I don't understand why there is this absolute, all consuming need to hate.  When the pilgrims came here... it was for religious freedom (among other things), but they came here for freedom.  If you do not agree with me... fine.  If you had an offensive experience... I'm sorry for that.  If you dealt with someone who hurt you, or advised you poorly... I am so sorry for your pain, but that is not me. I have not done that to you.  My church has not done that to you.  There are good and bad individuals in all walks of life and in ALL faiths. That does not mean that we are all bad or evil, or have ill intent. That is to say that if person is purple, and they treated me wrong, I do not discriminate against all people who are purple. I want the freedom to choose... that is all.  I just want the freedom to decide that for myself.  I have no problem with you if you do not believe in a God, because that is your choice, whether I don't understand it or not.  That way of thinking does not bring me peace.  That is not something that helps me to sleep at night,,, when I think of my children, who feel so far from me.  Maybe you would feel differently if you had walked a mile in my shoes. If you had felt the desperate, heart wrenching pain of losing three of my children.  I HAVE to believe in something, or I might lose my mind all together. In fact, after the experience with losing my daughter at a twenty-seven week gestation, I almost did lose it all.  I have an eight month period that I cannot account for.  Even for all of my faith and belief, I still could not handle the loss of one more of my precious children. I don't know if that would even matter to you.  Would that make a difference in the way that you think? I don't know.  I can only speak for myself.  This is my blog, about my life, which includes my faith and my growth.
I know that this image... to the right is a bit dramatic, but I believe that we are forgetting.  We are forgetting what hatred can do.  We are forgetting what evil can come as a result of intolerance and prejudice. I have a maybe morbid curiosity about the Holocaust.  I feel like I need to know their stories. Maybe it is because in my own way... I have tragedy too.  I do not compare myself to them.  What they lived through was horrific, and unacceptable. It was evil. Just plain evil, but it is also the result of someone not wanting someone to exist in their own faith, lifestyle, birthright.  It breaks my heart to learn about what happened to them.  I will never understand their fear, sorrow, pain, terror, desperation, and heart wrenching loss. My heart is with them, and I don't want people to forget them.  I also want for people to know that it is not okay.  If you do not understand us... that does not mean that you have to hate me.  I do not understand the atheist point of view, but that does not make me hate you.
I hold my religion to be sacred.  I want the freedom to believe the way of my conscience. I have that right.  Even if there are those who don't want to let me.
Did you know that the "Mormon", (our nickname) is the only faith to have been pursued and mobbed from state to state, until they came to a land that no one wanted.  We are the only ones to have an extermination order put out against all Mormons, by the Governor of Missouri Lilburn Boggs.  There is history and he said, she said about the circumstances.  My point is... that we have not learned that this type of history is wrong.  When all is said and done... the Jews are still Jewish.  The latter-day saints are still Mormons.  We cannot continue down this path of pain and sorrow.  Frankly, it is ridiculous. You can have your belief system... whatever that is.  I just want the freedom to have my own.  It seems that our world is becoming a hotbed of different beliefs, faiths, secret organizations, and lifestyles. This world is getting smaller and smaller and there is no room for hatred anymore.
 Now, when it comes to my faith, I do not ask that you take this all on my word.  I do not expect you to believe me.  I do not expect you to do anything other than give me the chance to live my faith and live by what I have come to believe is my right and is a blessing to my life.
  Back on topic, when we were finally able to go to the temple to be sealed as an eternal family... it was one of the happiest days of my life, and continues to be my salvation and my daily strength.  It might not mean anything to you, but my knowledge, because it is more than faith to me now, I know that my children are waiting for me.  They are safe, and together and waiting for us to be together again.  Why would you want to deny me that?
I was sealed to my husband and my children on Sept. 28th, 1996, ten days before the death of my first child, Anthony.  My heart is forever with him in heaven.  That is a comfort that cannot ever be taken away. I wish you peace, love and tolerance, as you change throughout your life, because there will be things that will happen in your life... that will change you.  I love my family.  I love my gospel.  I love my God and He comforts me and gives me strength every day.  I wish you well, whatever you believe. Whatever you need.  I wish you peace.