Crystal and I pulled into the temple parking lot just as the sun had disappeared from the horizon. Ground lights shone upon five steeples, the twilight sky in the background. A mixture of the orange, blue, and yellow sky contrasted deeply against the white spires. The grey and white marble tile of the exterior drew little attention to themselves, but the building as a whole commanded the attention of its attendants.
We drove to the back, parking near the entry. Deep concerns and serious matters had stripped our emotions raw. It had been a tough year. It began with the promise of mending once broken dreams and ended in new depths of a familiar despair. In an instant, I remembered them all.
I remembered the feeling of hopelessness dissolve into new hope as the possibility of a long sought after military career was revived. However, the hope was revived only to be crushed again. It was worse than ripping the scab off an old wound. It felt as though the existing wound was cut deeper.
I remembered, in the midst of my dashed hopes of a military career, enlisting all my efforts into my current career as a project manager. However, that career was brought to an abrupt halt months later by the sudden loss of employment. This thought was accompanied by a deep concern for the physical welfare of my young family; the burden of a young husband and father upon my shoulders.
These memories lingering heavily in my mind, playing on the broken record of a seemingly defeated heart, I reflected on the beginnings of our misfortunes. I remembered the first notice that the actions of a struggling teen would have lasting external effects on the adult form of that same teen.
Despite displaying superior intellectual and physical qualifications, according to the militaries own tests, I was denied entrance the first time because of a very brief juvenile criminal history. It would prove an insurmountable barrier, despite the exceptional moral character I had displayed for years since. I was defined, in several parts of society, by a brief moment in my entire life’s history; a brief moment recognizable as an anomaly when considering my entire life history. It was this same brief moment of my history that brought a promising attempt to an abrupt end a second time.
I could not help but feel that my brief stint in criminal conduct was responsible for all our current misfortunes. The thought filled me with anger until I was entirely numb to all other feelings. It was only made worse when I considered my wife and children brought into the mess.
“Are you ready, Hun?” Crystal asked as she reached over and squeezed my shoulder comfortingly. I looked over and smiled. “Sure am,” I said, trying to maintain a positive outward demeanor despite the torrent of discontent raging within me.
We exited the car, entered the temple, and approached the front desk. The desk attendant was friendly. Everything about his demeanor felt warm and sincere.
“Do you have your temple recommends?” he asked us quietly, maintaining the reverence appropriate for the temple.
Crystal reached inside her bag, pulled out her recommend, and handed it to the desk attendant. He scanned the recommend and checked the date on it. His brow wrinkled slightly.
“I’m sorry, Sister,” he said. “But this recommend expired last year. Do you have a current recommend?”
Crystal ruffled through her bag again, pulled another recommend out, and handed it to him. He repeated the process, scanning the recommend, and checking the date. Again, his brow wrinkled slightly.
“Sister,” he said, “I’m sorry to say, but this recommend expired two years ago. Do you have your current temple recommend.”
Crystal, blushing slightly, riffled through her bag again. She pulled another recommend from her bag and handed it to him. Before scanning this one, he checked the date on it. The corners of his mouth curled in good-natured amusement.
“Sister Mabe,” he said, “We are grateful for your years of faithfulness; however, this recommend expired three years ago. Do you have your current recommend?”
Crystal, her face entirely red from blushing, dug into her bag one last time and pulled out a recommend. She checked the date on it before handing it to him. Noticing it to be current, she gave it to the desk attendant. He accepted the recommend, checked the date, and scanned it, a big smile on his face.
“Welcome to the temple, Sister Mabe,” he said, handing the current recommend back to her. Crystal took the recommend and entered the temple. The desk attendant ripped up the three expired recommends and tossed them into a small waste bin behind him.
I was shocked. Those past recommends, certifying her past worthiness to enter the temple, were considered worthless by those who allowed entrance into the sacred quarters of the temple. Their only interest was on the current status of her worthiness. It defied everything we had experienced over the past few years. Past history was critical. In fact, it may have been the only thing that mattered to the world.
I handed my recommend to the desk attendant. He scanned the recommend, checked the date, and gave it back to me.
“Welcome to the temple, Brother,” he said with a smile.
I reciprocated his smile and entered the temple. As I entered, a profound statement entered into my mind.
“The sins of your past matter not to me. You are clean and have place in My Kingdom. Welcome home, son.”