What the Provo City Center Temple Taught Me

Today's blog post is a little different than what I normally post, but this has been something that's been on my mind a lot the past few days. The past few months, really.

Yesterday the Provo City Center Temple was dedicated. It was the culmination of an over five year journey that our entire city has been on. The former Provo Tabernacle, now the Provo City Center Temple, was practically destroyed in a fire, leaving only the exterior walls standing. The building was 100 years old, and a huge part of the community. Everyone had an emotional attachment to the building, and losing it was really hard.

My connection to the tabernacle came through going to stake conference there a couple times a year. We would always sit up on the second floor, at the back of the balcony, so we could see me dad, who always sat on the stand because of his leadership responsibilities. After the meeting was over, my brothers and I would run outside to climb around the big trees on the grounds. Even though the meeting could seem really long, especially when I was younger, it was always fun to go to the tabernacle.

After it was decided that the tabernacle was going to be renovated to become a temple, I remember being very excited, like everyone was. But after the excitement wore off, I remember realizing one day that even though we were going to get the building back, I'd never go to stake conference there again. The big trees we'd played around had been torn down in order to save the building. Thinking about that made me really sad. Sure we'd get a new temple, but what I really wanted was the tabernacle back.

And that's when I learned a very important lesson.

Many people have talked about how the tabernacle becoming a temple can be a metaphor for our lives.Tragedies will leave us feeling like the tabernacle after the fire, like a burned out shell of what we once were. It will feel like there's no point in trying to save ourselves, we'll think we're just too far beyond repair. But when it comes to God, nothing is beyond repair. I mean, He took a burned out building and turned it into a beautiful temple. The amount of work and money that went into restoring that building is absolutely ridiculous. It definitely would have much easier and cheaper to just tear it down and start over fresh. But that's not what God did with the tabernacle and that's not what He does with us. He doesn't toss us out and start over. He takes us and slowly, painstakingly puts us back together. But he doesn't just build us back to what we were before.

God's purpose is to help us gain immortality and eternal life. He's sent us here so we would learn and grow, so when we eventually get back to Him we have the capacity to receive all the blessings He wants us to give. And burning us down and building us back up is part of the process.

When God allowed the tabernacle to be burned (and I do think He did it on purpose) He did so not so He could rebuild it the way it was before. He had a higher purpose for the building in mind. No, I'm never going to go to stake conference in that building again, and that still makes me a little sad, but now I can go there and do saving ordinances for my ancestors. My friends are going to be married for eternity there. As the tabernacle, the building was a great gathering place for my church and the community. But now, as a temple, the building's capacity and abilities have expanded so far beyond that. It's a literal house of God. Before it was good, but now it's so much better.

And I realized God does the same thing with us. When we go through difficult experiences, He doesn't want us to be the same at the end. He wants us to be better. He wants us to be able to do more, to be more like He is. And that means that we can't be the same. The tabernacle couldn't be a community gathering place and a place where people make very sacred covenants with God. When God changes us and gives us a higher calling, we can't be the same either. When a person is baptized, they can't go back to living like they did before they were baptized. When a missionary is released from her mission, she can't expect to go home and be exactly like she was before her mission.

Accepting that we can't live the same life can be hard, like it was hard for me to accept that the tabernacle couldn't be used for stake conference anymore. But I've accepted that it's okay, because now I have something better.

So that's what I've personally learned through the Provo City Center Temple. I've learned that once we go through a life-changing experience, we can't go back to the way we were before. We need to be better. That lesson has helped me give up habits and accept challenges, because I understand a little better now that God is just making me a more capable person, with the capacity to give so much more.

Me and my family at the temple dedication

For more on the dedication of the temple click here- Provo City Center Temple.

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