I had been raised in the Church. I sang the Primary songs about the temple. I was taught the Young Women lessons on keeping myself worthy to be able to go to the temple. I figured that someday I would be married in the temple just like my mom and dad, grandparents, and almost every relative I had.
When I was 19, I started dating a young man who always showed the highest respect for me. He was very kind, we got along really well, and I was very attracted to him. The only problem was that he couldn’t take me to the temple. We had started talking about marriage, and I told him the temple was where I wanted to be married. After a lot of talking, I started to believe that maybe we could get married at the church and have a temple ceremony a year later when he would be ready to go.
It was after these rationalizing thoughts began to bombard me that something happened.
My cousin was getting married in the Manti Temple that Saturday, and my parents were going to the wedding. My dad asked if I would like to go too.
“Why would I want to get up at five in the morning and drive four hours to sit outside and wait?” I asked.
“I would really like you to come with us. It would mean a lot to all of us,” Dad said. With his words ringing in my ears, I agreed to go.
Saturday my alarm went off at 5:00 A.M. What am I doing? was my first thought. But I got up and was ready to leave with my parents.
It was a beautiful morning and a beautiful drive. The sun was peeking up behind the mountains as we set out for Manti. I sat in the back watching Mom and Dad. They had a strong marriage, and I knew they loved each other very much.
When we arrived at the Manti Temple, I walked with my parents through the doors. There was a sitting area where I could wait for them. I hugged them and watched them as they were greeted warmly by two temple workers.
I sat in the chair for a while and watched people going in. Each one looked very happy, and there seemed to be a calmness in their eyes.
A few minutes had passed when I saw my grandma and grandpa come around the corner where my parents had disappeared. They were dressed in white, and they were holding hands as they approached me. They gave me a hug and told me they loved me. A few minutes later, my aunt and uncle walked in. They, too, embraced me and expressed their love for me. A third time this happened with a different uncle and aunt.
After they had all gone in for the ceremony, I stepped outside to look around the temple grounds. The thought of the visits I had just experienced wouldn’t leave me. I knew my family loved me, and I loved them. But all the love in the world could not let me go with them into the temple. They could come out to visit me, but I couldn’t go in.
Suddenly a wave of understanding hit me. That was exactly how it would be in the life after this one. No matter how much love we had for each other as family, I would not be allowed to be with them forever if I wasn’t worthy to go to the temple now. The desire to be able to go inside and join my family was overwhelming. For a moment I felt deep despair, but then, just as quickly, I felt washed over with love that I’d never felt before. I knew my Heavenly Father loved me.
After this experience, I decided to break up with the young man I had been seeing. But it wasn’t too many months later that I met and fell in love with a young man who was worthy to go to the temple, and the one we chose to be married in was the Salt Lake Temple. As I knelt across the altar from my eternal companion, I couldn’t help but think of that day in Manti. I then glanced around the room at all my family. Each one loved me, and I knew my Heavenly Father was pleased with the decisions I had made. It was the beginning of a welding of two lives together—a union that would continue into eternity if we lived worthy of the covenants we had made.