Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Temple Experience

My exmo sis had told me few things about the temple already, like that there were secret handshakes and chanting and things such as that. I was freaked out to begin with, and knowing it was going to be strange made it worse and made me more anxious.

I was engaged and I knew I'd have to go through the temple soon. I was doubting and had been doubting for a long time but I loved my fiance and he was quite TBM at the time, as were our families for the most part, so I knew I would have to get married in the temple. I set a day to go through the Mesa temple while we were visiting my parents in AZ. While there, however, I asked that we put it off because I was "not ready yet." My parents didn't understand but respected my wished.

The day before my wedding, I went through the Bountiful temple. I was not ready that day, either, but it was pretty much the longest I could have put it off, right? :) I remember how worried I was, and how I just wished I was allowed to know what was going to happen. Why did it have to be so damn secret? That only made it scarier. Still, what choice did I have? I wanted to get married. I took my clothes off in the dressing room and put on a shield/poncho getup and went to get washed and anointed.

The old ladies in the curtains were kind to me, and told me all these great things I could become, and it made me feel better. It was odd, though, to have WOMEN giving me blessings and acting as though they had priesthood authority. That was weird. But I can honestly say that the initiatory was the best part of the temple experience for me. I didn't entirely understand it, but it made me feel somewhat empowered (by the way, this was POST-naked touching). I figured the rest of it couldn't be that bad.

As I sat in the endowment, I felt confusion and fear. I hated knowing that there would be a "test" at the end, and I freaked out to try to remember everything I was supposed to say and do at the veil. I thought the movie was boring and silly. I felt that the handshakes, gestures and chanting were cult-like and made me endlessly uncomfortable. I was in a mad rush to do all the robe-changing things because I didn't want to be the last person in the room standing up to change them, therefore causing embarrassment. I hated not understand what the hell was going on. It felt jumbled and foreign, and worst of all I didn't see why knowing a bunch of handshakes would prove me worthy of entering heaven. I did not believe it.

At the end, my husband was able to take me through the veil. It was a neat idea, but I was still scared and confused--even with the veil worker helping me. After feeling humiliated at the veil, I passed through into the Celestial Room. It was nice and peaceful there, but I could not fathom what I had just endured. it was as though the religion I had known since childhood had a dare side that I had never, ever known existed. It felt very wrong to me. I remember that while I sat in the Celestial Room with my fiance, I thought to myself, "I wouldn't mind if I never had to go through the temple again!"

I hated going ever since then. I'd make all sorts of excuses not to do the endowment. I would do other things, like baptisms, initiatories, and sealings, long before I'd do an endowment. I hated sitting through the stupid movie and doing the cult-like gestures.

I never felt the same about my religion after that.


Dianne said...

I think I wrote that. I felt the exact same way. The only thing is that I took out my endowments, got married and only returned once when my sister got married. I just couldn't go back. Thank you for sharing your story.

Unknown said...

I'd like to thank you for leaving your blog active so that it remains helpful to others.
So many people i know really began to feel like their entire world had tilted on its axis once they had gone and had endowments. It was so entirely foreign to anything they had ever known. It was terrifying for them all, and one of my best friends who was a religious studies major, was shocked beyond all things to be standing in the temple of god, enacting pagan rituals.
She pointed out that the anointing, the knocking at the veil, the tokens, the true order of prayer, all were pagan practices. She left the church that same day.
She has since become orthodox christian.
To this day, she is not so much angry at the church for making up a bunch of hokey rites to keep people in the business of believing, but she is saddendd and disappointed in people she otherwise would have considered very smart, thoughtful people, whose senses must have surely abandoned them once they entered the temple. She always wondered how any thinking person could keep believing.

Personally, i always wondered how anyone could believe in a faith that depends entirely upon guilt, shame and abject obedience not to God, but the the church. The church is so integrated that it is who you become, a homogenous mass of nothing of yourself, only what the church allows. And it is such a shame to be coerced into setting aside all of your natural self that God made, to conform to a disjointed, disorganized and downright ridiculous system of beliefs that shames you away from your true self.

I'm grateful that this blog exists. I'm sure there are many people who get their endowments and are just as confused and confounded about it, the temple and their beliefs.