Becoming a Consecrated MissionaryA friend recently referred me to a talk given by Elder Tad R. Callister, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, which he gave in the MTC about five years ago. It's called "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary," and is truly a wonderful talk. (Download/view on the Downloadables page.)
If you've read "The Fourth Missionary" (I have download and viewing links here) by Brother Corbridge, "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary" might have some ideas that seem familiar to you.
"What is a consecrated missionary? It is a missionary who is willing to lay everything on the altar of sacrifice and to hold nothing back. It is a willingness to give every ounce of energy, every conscious thought, and every drop of passion to this work – to submit our will to God’s will whatever it may be. Every missionary who has been to the temple has covenanted to consecrate his all. The book of Omni records the depth and breadth of that covenant: “Yea, come unto me, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him” (Omni 1:26). The law of consecration is the law of the temple, it is the law of the celestial kingdom, and it is the law of a celestial mission."
I read this talk the night before I entered the Manhattan Temple to receive my endowment, and am reading it for the second time now, a day after becoming endowed.
I was struggling to think of a way to talk about the temple, because all that happens in the temple is incredibly sacred and not to be shared lightly (some of it not at all), especially in a place so public and unforgiving as the Internet. The ordinances that are performed within the temple aren't familiar, by any means, but the ideas and principles behind them are.
My advice to any sisters preparing to soon enter the temple would be this: don't fret. Don't panic. Don't feel like you should be feeling something. Be honest with yourself and honest with God. Don't feel guilty if you aren't feeling the spirit.
My experience was something like this. I went to the temple, armed with a parent on each side, and was met by a sweet temple worker. She took me through the process of getting ready for the session, then I was handed off to another set of sisters, who walked me through the first part of the session. There was no pressure on me to remember much of anything or to act anything but reverent and attentive. There will always be someone by your side to help you, especially during your first time. You'll have your escort and you will have all of the temple workers there to look out for you and make sure you're doing things the right way.
The no-pressure atmosphere really helped me to just take in the experience. The entire session takes about two hours, and there is a lot of information shared within those two hours. I didn't have any epiphanies or any moments of intense spiritual uplifting, but I don't think that's a bad thing. We are encouraged to go back to the temple often, and I think that's because nobody, including the Lord, expects you to have an incredibly significant experience the first time. Every time you return, as the session becomes more familiar than strange, your heart has a little more room to receive knowledge and revelation. The less you stress, the quieter your mind is and the easier it is to hear the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.
After the conclusion of the session, you are given time to sit quietly and reflect in one of the most sacred rooms in the temple. After reassuring my parents that I wasn't about to have a panic attack or run screaming from the room, we all sat together in silence and prayed individually. It was there that I was finally able to feel the spirit in a way that I recognized it, as I said a little prayer to my Heavenly Father telling Him that I would try to come back often to more appreciate the session.
Do not for a second feel guilty. I have had friends tell me that their experience was intensely spiritual, and other friends tell me that they were nearly in tears, scared, anxious tears, by the time they reached the end. This is just my experience.
Don't feel bad if you're anxious. Don't feel bad if it feels strange and out of place. It will. The ordinances of the temple are divine in origin, and so of course it's going to take time for the spirit child within the natural man to feel the familiarity of it.
I had a few mementos that I came back with from the temple (the temple workers gave me a little magnet with the Manhattan temple on it), but the most important of those reminders are something that I will have with me for the rest of my life.
Don't lose respect for your garments, not now, not ever. You are taught their full importance in the temple, and coming out of that session, you are armed with both great knowledge and great responsibility. Your garments are there to remind you of that. Your garments are also there to be a protection for you. They are so sacred. Don't forget that.
As Elder Callister said in his talk, consecration is the law of the temple, the Celestial kingdom, and the law of a celestial mission. In order to be endowed with great power, you must be willing to consecrate your all. As missionaries, that is exactly what we're doing. We're giving all of our time, efforts, energy, and will to God. In return, He helps lead us to people who are searching for the Gospel, and guides us in our efforts to bring them to the fold. He gives us spiritual power. He protects us. He blesses us and our families immeasurably.
Don't wait to go to the temple, and don't wait to consecrate your whole self to our Heavenly Father. Don't procrastinate the day of your repentance. Don't do what I realized that I was doing this week: "just one more drink of this soda, Heavenly Father. I need to finish it so nobody in the house drinks it. I know that there's caffeine in it but I'm the one who bought it so I need to drink it. Just one more drink, I need to get through the day without crashing."
There will always be a million excuses to take one more sip of Dr Pepper, or whatever your vice is that you're procrastinating putting off. But by consecrating yourself to Heavenly Father, you are agreeing to exact and immediate obedience. You are remembering the covenants you've made, both in your life and in the temple. Don't let anything keep you from Heavenly Father's blessings! And especially don't let anything keep you from the temple.
Have faith in Heavenly Father's plan, which includes the endowment session in the temple. Have faith that you have been called to a great and wondrous work, and now, more than ever, the world needs your testimony. Remember that a mission will be the hardest thing you have ever done, even more frightening, painful, and difficult than you can imagine, but that is exactly why it is so worth it. It will stretch all of us and create more celestial beings of us than we ever could do for ourselves.
I love you. Heavenly Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, love you immeasurably. Always remember that!