The nature of our challenges differs from that of our sisters of yesteryear. Though we may not have to pull handcarts through the dead of winter, we all climb our own Rocky Ridge at some time—or more likely, many times—during this journey in the wilderness called mortality. The causes of steep climbs vary: loneliness and betrayal, loss and prolonged disappointment, wavering testimonies and splintered families. There are enough Rocky Ridges to go around. Through it all, the temple is an incomparable lifeline because the temple is filled with knowledge and spiritual power.
President Howard W. Hunter pleaded with us to “look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of [our] membership.”77 The importance of that statement cannot be overemphasized. Baptism opens the gate to the celestial kingdom, but the temple opens the gate to exaltation.78
President Thomas S. Monson promised that “as you and I go to the holy houses of God,…we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation.”79
While presiding over the Bountiful Utah Temple, President Douglas L. Callister told a group of young adults that “when we enter the temple, we leave the world of make-believe.”80 Indeed, the artificial, unseemly, confusing elements of mortal life fade away as we enter the temple to worship, learn, and communicate with the heavens.
My own Rocky Ridges would have crushed me long ago if I had not discovered that the temple is a place of refuge, a place of knowledge, a place of peace and power, and a place where we learn how close heaven and those who reside there actually are. But it didn’t begin that way for me.
I was in my late twenties when I received my endowment, and frankly, the temple intimidated me at first. One day a couple of years later, my stake president asked me simply, “How often do you go to the temple?”
After an awkward pause, I admitted, “Not as often as I should.”
The way he responded was perfect for me: “You might want to think about that.”
That was all it took. I walked out of his office knowing that his question and response had been a gentle but heaven-sent rebuke. I had allowed my apprehensions to shortchange not only the Lord but my spiritual growth.
I began to attend the temple regularly—at first out of sheer obedience. But before long, my experience in the temple began to change. I began to listen and pray differently, to have more meaningful thoughts and impressions, and to ask different, and better, questions. Little by little, I began to have flashes of learning and moments of revelation.
I’ll never forget the day when I realized that going to the temple was no longer a “have-to.” I wanted to be there. I needed to be there, and as often as I could. The temple helped me feel safer, stronger, and more at peace. Some of the clearest answers I’ve received to life’s thorny challenges have come in the temple. And many insights about the gospel have come while I have been worshiping there. It is a house of truth filled with spiritual power. In the temple, we learn how to learn about the things of God.