Friday, October 3, 2014

One Writer's Legacy Part 6

Moment 5: Holiness to the Lord, The House of the Lord

If it wasn’t already clear before this point, I will make it clear now. My faith is very important to me. It influences every part of my life, including my writing. While I am not writing overtly religious work, the themes in my writing are connected to my faith and the eternal truths I wish to share with the world.
I know that Heavenly Father speaks to His children. I have felt His guidance in my life. Often, He has to prod me a few times before I hear His promptings, but once I do, I listen carefully to understand what He is telling me because I know that I can trust Him.
One of the promptings I received a few years ago took a long time for me to understand. In all honesty, it took more than a year for me to know that what I wanted to do was right. Most members of the church do not enter the temple until they are going on a mission or getting married. Neither of which I have done. But I kept on feeling that I needed to go to the temple. I had a Limited-Use- Recommend, which allowed me to participate in one Temple Ordinance, Baptisms for the Dead. But that was all and I could only go when appointments were made for my ward or family to do work in the Baptistry. In the LDS, or Latter Day Saint Church, we believe that Baptism is a necessary ordinance for salvation. However, not all people have the opportunity or inclination to be Baptized during their lives. Since Heavenly Father is both merciful and just, He needed to provide a way for that work to be done for His children who died before they could be Baptized and for those who chose not to be. 
So, one of the ordinances completed in LDS Temples are Baptisms for the Dead. For this ordinance, a member of the church in good standing is baptized in place of another, someone who has been dead for at least one year. This is one of the reasons family history is so important to members of the church. We want everyone, the entire family that is humanity, to be together in eternity and that means that the sacred ordinances need to be performed for everyone.
Before going to the temple myself, I jumped at the chance to participate in Baptisms for the Dead. There is just a special feeling in temples. When I go I am able to find peace, answers to my prayers and the important reminder that I am a beloved child of God. Temples truly are the House of the Lord and I wanted to be able to spend more time there. I wanted to be able to go whenever I wanted or needed to, not just when my ward was able to schedule an appointment to perform Baptisms for the Dead.
When I first had the desire to go to the temple, I thought that maybe I was misunderstanding Heavenly Father. I wasn’t preparing to go on a mission (I considered it for a while after that first prompting but it didn’t feel right) and I wasn’t getting married, at least not yet. It was only after a lot of prayer and scripture study, and a several more of the once a month visits to the temple for Baptisms for the Dead, that I felt confident that Heavenly Father wanted me to go through the Temple to receive my own Endowment, the next covenant that a child of God makes with their Heavenly Father.
Now I cannot imagine not being able to attend the temple whenever it is open. I am even blessed to volunteer there about twice a month answering phones and helping others schedule their time in the temple. My time spent there truly has deepened my understanding of the gospel and strengthened me for even more difficult trials.
Some of you are probably wondering how this moment in my life connects to my writing. The parallel may not be immediately obvious but it is there. I don’t believe I am alone when I say that sometimes it is hard to make a decision, especially a big one. This conflict, this struggle to understand who you are and what you are supposed to do is one that many of my characters face. I believe this it is important for people to use their agency thoughtfully, and then live up to their choices. As such, I tend to write about characters who struggle to chose their path, characters who want to make a decision for themselves and who sometimes need to be knocked on the head, or prodded, a few times before they realize what they should do.
Another connection between my writing and my experiences in the Temple is the importance of stewardship. As I have lived in the church and with my family, I have seen just how important it is for us to take care of each other, for human beings to take an interest in and support those around them. Now, I am not talking about allowing people to rely on you for anything and everything they want, but rather the importance of helping others to do the things they simply can’t do for themselves. This responsibility, which I believe we all have as children of God, this stewardship, is a concept that lives as the center of almost every story I have ever written. And it is one of the messages that I want to share with the world.
Stay turned for part 7 of "One Writer's Legacy."

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