On Friday night, my brother, in preparation for going on his mission at the end of February, went through the Jordan River Temple to take out his own endowment. Going through the temple is a really big deal for us Latter Day Saints, and the promises, covenants, and commitments one makes in a temple are heavy, powerful, and vastly significant to the rest of our lives. You see, the temple and the sacred things that happen in the temple are essential to our salvation and eternal life. It's the biggest and most essential step in helping us to secure the right, in heaven, to be with our families again. It was such a great experience for all of us, too. I was proud of my brother and all the family and friends who were there to support him.
Our experience on Friday night, along with a few other things that happened because of our experience Friday night, have got me thinking a lot the past few days about agency. About the choices we make and the consequences of those choices on our lives and our families.
When I was a high school teacher and students would come to me panicked about their grades at the end of each term, I wasn't always the nicest or most forgiving. I kept a poster at my desk that said, "Failure to prepare on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine." Depending on the kid, how big of an "F" they had, and how tired I was when they came to talk to me really played a big role in how I'd be willing to help and I made sure to always really make a kid sweat before I'd work with them to bring their grade up. I would always tell those students, "It is much easier to pass my class than to fail. To pass my class, all you needed to do was show up every day and do what was asked of you. To fail my class, you had to make a conscious decision every single day to: not attend; not do or turn in assignments; not participate."
Those kids had agency. They made their choices and were not happy with the consequences. Though I was never a benevolent teacher, I tried hard to help kids be successful. But, there were never very many football players in my classes.
In life, as adults, we make choices. We choose a path and that path introduces us to people and places, experiences and opportunities, success and failure, gratitude and heartache. Whenever we face a bump in our path, we are lucky enough that we get to use our agency, again, to get us back in the right direction. For most of us, our path, though not straight or smooth, is full of joy and opportunity. For others, their path has lots of briars and thorns. Regardless though, we choose how to move, deal with, and relate to the experiences in our lives. Some see the glass half full, others half empty.
Here's the thing. I chose my path. You choose your path. I own up to my choices, good or bad, and face the consequences and reap the blessings. A big part of my path is my faith. Okay, the biggest part of my path is my faith. There are a lot of things that make me, me, but when it comes right down to it, the path that I have taken, the choices that I have made, have led me to the life I have.
Temples are sacred places. In the last 9 months, I've had two experiences in a temple that have made me believe and know without a doubt, that the choices I've made are right, and that the path I am on is good for me. For our wedding anniversary, Ross and I went to the Salt Lake Temple. I got a little lost when we parted ways for a bit and when I rounded a corner, I saw an elderly temple worker sitting on a chair. This woman, in the briefest of moments, looked exactly like my grandma. There was no one else around, she looked me directly in the eyes and winked at me, showed me the direction to go. It took my breath away! She was in the briefest of seconds, the spitting image of my grandmother and, when I turned back to look at her a second time, she looked nothing like the person I had initially seen. I was covered in goose bumps and a little confused.
On Friday night, I had a similar experience. I rounded a corner alone in the temple and saw a woman who at that moment looked exactly like my grandma. She also winked at me. I kept walking and this time, I didn't look back. I wanted to keep the image in my head exactly as I had seen it.
Of all the things that I could have chosen to do with my life up until this point in time, I have chosen a path that gives me the opportunity to know without a single doubt, that what I am doing is right. That I will be with my family forever. That I have family in heaven looking out for me, protecting me, and guiding me.