Yes, I actually did hear someone say that.
I was attending Women’s Conference with my mother this May at the beautiful BYU campus in Provo, Utah. As we left the closing session at the Marriott Center and walked back out into the sunshine, I overheard a conversation. (Here is where my husband would pipe up and tease me for the word ‘overheard’. It’s more like ‘specifically listened in on’. I am a writer and have that people-watching/conversation-listening disease common to those of my fate.)
“My sister-in-law wants us all to go down to the temple open house.” A woman close to me, maybe in her early thirties, was talking with a group of friends. She continued, “She got us tickets and everything, but I’m just like – I’m not driving a whole HOUR just to go and see another temple.” She flipped her blonde hair back over her shoulder as the conversation turned to another topic.
My. heart. hurt.
Immediately my mind turned to people the world over who have waited their whole lives for a temple to be built withing a day or two’s journey from their home. I think of families who sacrifice and scrimp and save to be able to make the trip to a temple to be sealed together for time and all eternity. And yet, for those privileged few who live within minutes of multiple temples, a whole HOUR? Puh-lease. I have better things to do with my time.
Now – to sidestep a little – I readily admit that I did not hear the entire conversation. Who knows what that comment could have meant with a little more context? Maybe she just had a really tough schedule that week and making that trip fit into her family’s life just wasn’t going to work. Possible? Yeah. I will do my best to give her the benefit of the doubt. Heaven knows I have been misunderstood about things I have said many a time in my life. My foot and mouth are pretty good friends by now.
When it comes to the gospel, I tend to say it like it is. I haven’t always been brave enough to do that, but I am now. Neal A. Maxwell is my hero for his firmness and no-nonsense approach to it all. When I read his inspired and wise words, I feel as if all the confusion and noise of the world fall away, and I become a student in a classroom, with Elder Maxwell basically saying “C’mon – let’s be real now. This is how it is. You know this. Let’s be grown-ups about it.”
I have a firm testimony of the gospel. Satan has done his very best to shake it – and boy has he – but his efforts have been in vain. With each earthquake of doubt I have carefully rebuilt my faith to withstand a storm twice the size. It has taken time, it has taken great effort, humility, soul searching, study and repentance.
What have I gotten for my labors? I have an irrefutable connection to my Father in Heaven, a serious love and awe for my Savior, and am daily grateful for the comfort and guidance that come into my life through the Holy Ghost.
In other words: The gospel is the gospel is the gospel is the gospel. The truth is the truth is the truth is the truth – and there is not a darned thing a single person in existence can do to change that.
The gospel is not dependent upon anyone believing in it to be true.
Truth does not need to be housed within a social or religious construct in order to be real or have validity.
Even if not a single soul on this beautiful earth believed in God, the reality is that He would still be God.
God over Heaven and Earth and all things between, before and after.
In the end, ‘religion’ itself will be a non issue. Christ will come again, and His gospel will stop being simply ‘religion’ in the eyes of the world and will shift into an absolutely glorious, terrifyingly unavoidable reality.
Right now we can pull the blinders over our eyes and plug our ears, but we will not always have that opportunity.
So, what exactly am I getting at?
I hope that when we look at a picture of a temple, or think of our families and how much we love them and want to be with them forever, there could be no distance too great to keep us from these precious blessings. One hour or a thousand, there will come a time when those minutes become irrelevant – but the things we chose to do with them will be of utmost importance.
Have questions or comments on how you honor and keep your sacred covenants? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.