Before I became a member, I was not living a temple worthy life. I was an addict. Now, when people hear the word “addict”, they automatically think of cocaine or meth, but for me, my drug of choice was food, or the lack of it.
I remember spending my senior year of high school at the gas station when I was supposed to be in class. I would spend my time obsessively wandering the aisles of the grocery store, my mind counting the calories of food and memorizing their labels. After finally buying an item, I would eat it in my car and then go to the gas station to purge it, along with taking laxatives and diuretics to “get rid of the rest.” If I wasn’t doing that, I was counting how long I could go without eating at all, or burning off empty calories at the gym. Fun way to spend your senior year of high school, right?
I know they mention nothing about eating disorders in the temple recommend interviews, but they do mention the Word of Wisdom, which I obviously wasn’t following. Even after I joined the church, I still struggled with my eating disorder behaviors. I truly believe that if I didn’t have the Church, especially the temple, I WOULD NOT have stayed as strong in my recovery as I have.
There have been too many days where I contemplate using eating disorder behaviors and immediately think of the temple. I understand that everyone has their agency, and some people choose to neglect the Word of Wisdom and attend the temple because they have their temple recommend. However, for me personally, if I were to give into my eating disorder, I would NOT feel worthy enough to enter those doors anymore. I just couldn’t do it. And I need the temple more than anything else (Elder Kent F. Richards, “The Power of Godliness,” April 2016).
I recognize that there are many church members who struggle to be worthy of a temple recommend. Some church members have had a temple recommend and ended up getting it revoked. I understand that getting a temple recommend, or earning one back, might be an easy task for some, and a seemingly never-ending struggle to others. Satan is strong, and he attacks us in various ways: addiction, family struggles, financial difficulties, etc. These struggles are a normal part of mortality, but when they affect our relationship with our Father in Heaven, that’s when they become a concern.
So what do you do when you want to attend the temple but aren’t able to?
1. Keep Meeting With Your Bishop
Meeting with your bishop may be super easy for you to do, or it could be something you procrastinate. Either way, don’t stop doing it. Develop a trusting relationship with your bishop. If you feel like you simply don’t click with your current bishop — and that happens sometimes — don’t get discouraged. Befriend a bishop in a different ward in your stake. If that doesn’t work, talk to a member who was a bishop previously, or somebody else on the high council. Being able to openly talk with a priesthood holder who has that sacred calling can be really helpful when you least expect it.
2. Keep a Picture of the Temple
I’m sure a lot of people have been recommended to do this before, but, whether you’re temple worthy or not, I highly encourage every member of the church to keep a picture of the temple somewhere where they will see it frequently. In my opinion, the more places it is, the better, whether in your living room, wallet, bedroom, or car. It is always good to have the temple in your mind, in your heart, and in your sights.
3. Pay Attention to the Promptings of the Holy Ghost
As members of the church, we are blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost. Key word: GIFT. Unfortunately, I think a lot of members put this precious gift on the back burner. But that can change. The Holy Ghost is your friend, your companion, and your guide. Use it! Like it says in Moroni: “And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.”
4. Try Your Best to Improve Your Habits
Whether you struggle to keep the Word of Wisdom, or struggle to read scriptures every day, try your best to improve your habits in order to draw closer to your Father in Heaven. Don’t be afraid to use professional support if you need the additional help. Whatever habits you feel are preventing you from reaching your full potential, you can be free of them if you keep trying and keep going.
5. Don’t give up.
God has a plan for you, even if you don’t see it yet. All you can do is the best that you can, so keep striving to do better and be better. Don’t neglect to pour out your heart to God in prayer and during sacrament meeting. Put in the effort, and God will open the door in His due time. Believe that you will some day be able to enter His Holy House, and you will.
Vannessa Gunnell is a Mormon Convert, blogger (lifeofamormonconvert.blogspot.com), and an eating recovery advocate who lives in Utah.
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