Making and Keeping Covenants

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professionalmom
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Making and Keeping Covenants

Post by professionalmom » 09 Sep 2009, 17:31

As I was driving to work this morning I started reflecting on the covenants I made in the temple when I was barely 19 years old (and sorely unprepared). I thought through each one....obedience, sacrifice, chastity, and consecration. As I did so, I was struck by just how much I struggle to really live these covenants. As I reviewed my life and thought about each covenant, I could see where I had a lot of room for improvement. Don't get me wrong, this was not a self-recrimination session, it was more of a "stepping outside of myself" and just taking an honest look at where I am in my spiritual development and progress and wondering if I was being honest with myself in the making and attempted "keeping" of these covenants. When I made these covenants at 19 I didn't understand one bit of what I was doing (except that I was fulfilling my family's expectations). And while I have learned a lot more about the temple and understand now more about the covenants I made, I still have so many unanswered questions. I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed and started wondering if I was ever going to be able to truly keep those covenants. I have no husband to "hearken to", I have struggled with the law of chastity, and I am far from living the law of consecration. Then, a talk I heard by our Stake Patriarch about 10 years ago came to my mind. Someone had asked him what the most important thing we can do in living the gospel. His reply? Come to sacrament meeting each Sunday prepared to take the Sacrament and renew our baptismal covenants. Renewing the covenant to become more like Christ and to "mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" and to have "His spirit to be with us" is the most important thing we can do. Maybe it sounds strange but I take comfort in the fact that I can simply look for those who come into my life who may need to be comforted and who I can serve every day. If I strive to do that and be worthy of and listen to the Spirit perhaps I won't be as overwhelmed by the covenants of the temple. I don't have any "point" here...I just felt like sharing that. Thanks for "listening".
"The path that is best for you is the path that keeps the best of you in play."

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Heber13
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Re: Making and Keeping Covenants

Post by Heber13 » 09 Sep 2009, 18:53

I like your point.

Sometimes I also consider that there is a time and season for things. Geneology is not in my season right now...I have more important things to do. But some day I may get into it to do my duty.

Similarly, if there is some youth I can help today and show them love in their time of need, that would be the most important thing I could do to keep my covenants, I would think.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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borninit
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Re: Making and Keeping Covenants

Post by borninit » 09 Sep 2009, 19:00

You're not alone. We all get down on ourselves for not living up to the covenants we make. If you are really down on yourself, please don't be. There is something to be said about grace that even applies to Temple covenants. It will take a lifetime to finally get it right, and some don't. I really don't know why we make the covenants except that we do, seeing how we constantly break our side of it, but something inside of me says not to worry about it as long as I pick myself up and try again.

As I understand it, we recovenant the temple stuff when we take the sacrament, at least that's what I heard.

I have to be honest, the temple still weirds me out a little, it's been 14 years since my first time through, but I do feel a calm quiet peace when I go, and it seems that my focus on spiritual things sharpens. I can't help but feel that it is good and right. I myself struggle desparately to keep all of the covenants, and maybe it's that I don't take them seriously enough or it's my mom's teachings to me about the grace and patience of Christ, but I don't feel like I should stress out about it as long as I am trying to make it right the next time tempation comes.

How do you feel about this? Are you reluctant to go to the temple and are trying to find a suitable substitute so you don't have to go anymore?
I used to say, "My mission is to reveal a person's true identity to themselves so they can finally deal with it." Now I'm a much nicer person. I can take being threatened with physical harm only so many times.

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professionalmom
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Re: Making and Keeping Covenants

Post by professionalmom » 09 Sep 2009, 21:04

borninit wrote: I do feel a calm quiet peace when I go, and it seems that my focus on spiritual things sharpens. I can't help but feel that it is good and right.
I liked the reminder of the importance of "seasons" Heber, and I appreciated the quote above...I, too, struggle at times with the temple but I feel the same way about attending the temple as you stated above. For that reason I keep going and keep trying to learn more and become more. Important to remember that we are all in our own refining process and that refining takes time.

I haven't found any experiences yet that equal the peace I am able to find in the temple. There are definitely events in my life that have been spiritual and uplifting outside of the temple (being in nature, listening to beautiful music, moments of connection with my kids), but there is something unique that I find there. Perhaps I just haven't found the right experience yet (like Mountain climbing or intense meditation) :-)
"The path that is best for you is the path that keeps the best of you in play."

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Making and Keeping Covenants

Post by Curt Sunshine » 09 Sep 2009, 21:24

I've gone enough that I rarely pay close attention anymore to the words. Rather, I wait for a thought to strike me and then contemplate it for as long as it takes to feel satisfied. I then repeat that until the time runs out.

I've had some AMAZING experiences in the temple, but most of them have come from letting the communal ceremony happen around me and letting my own thoughts "be still" and contemplate the whisperings of the Spirit to ME as an individual. My body is there, symbolically with the group, but my mind is wandering the heavens, if you will.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Making and Keeping Covenants

Post by Brian Johnston » 10 Sep 2009, 08:11

We make covenants really before we understand them fully (baptism, temple, etc.).

If we waited to try until we fully understood them, we would be in our winter years of life and it would be too late to experience them. My hope is rooted in this perspective. We understand covenants through the many attempts at keeping them. "Attempts" implies failure. How would we appreciate it all without having success and failure? Life isn't a test. It is an experience.

Don't look at me, lol. God made it that way. It isn't my fault :D
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

Poppyseed
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Re: Making and Keeping Covenants

Post by Poppyseed » 10 Sep 2009, 09:56

Hi Prof Mom.

I loved your OP. It was honest and reflective and even patient. You were honest with yourself without beating yourself with a stick. I like that a lot. I have been doing lots of soul searching within myself as I am not what I once was in terms of my involvement with living "the mormon way".

Sometimes I have been concerned about how the church prepares people for baptism. On my mission, I felt we prepared investigators far better than I was prepared at 8 yrs old -- not that I would have understood as much as an adult and not that I haven't felt blessings from the addition of the GofHG in my young life. I guess I have wondered, especially thru my teen years as I saw young men attend the temple in prep for missionary service, if the temple was just a stepping stone for the mish and not really appreciated or properly entered into. I was told before I went to the temple that I would be making covenants. I can't say I knew what that meant in terms of how it would impact my life and at the time it didn't seem to impact my life style at all considering I was living a very conservative mormon life....not that my life now is different. It's more that my thoughts and paradigms are different. It's like my life experience has turned everything on its head and the puzzle peices just won't go back they way they did before.

Anyway....I do think that the church has tried to improve the way it prepares people for temple attendance. I think they try to structure age requirements and hold temple prep courses in order to help buy time and experience and hopefully vision about the whole thing. Can't say that I know much about the current prep course curriculum as I haven't attended for many years. I hope we are doing better anyway because I think understanding what you are undertaking is essential to making the decision to go. It shouldnt be entered into lightly. How often I have seen young men and women go because it was some kind of rite of passage or expected simply because one became 19. Other times I look at adults who go often and sometimes I see the ones that really go with devotion and deep understanding....but others who seem to be going thru the motions.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” --old Chinese proverb

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Orson
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Re: Making and Keeping Covenants

Post by Orson » 10 Sep 2009, 12:40

Hi profmom, thanks for sharing. It struck me as I read your post (not from you specifically, my mind wandered to the church in general) that maybe too often we tend to think of the church as a mediator with God when it is really more of a facilitator. The goal of the endowment and covenants is for us to gain and enrich a personal connection with God – not so much to be micromanaged in our actions. I see the temple covenants as a frame of reference, a starting point in our contemplation of how we can fulfill the purposes of God on earth and in our lives (read “nurture love”). Discouragement is NOT what God wants. He wants us to experience the joy of becoming.

So what I’m saying is I think you’re on the right track in your focus to:

...look for those who come into my life who may need to be comforted and who I can serve every day. If I strive to do that and be worthy of and listen to the Spirit perhaps I won't be as overwhelmed by the covenants of the temple.
Again, thanks for sharing!
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I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Making and Keeping Covenants

Post by hawkgrrrl » 10 Sep 2009, 12:59

I think it's an interesting paradox - we make covenants at a point in time, and although we change as we go through the different phases of life (our perspectives change, our circumstances change, and our understanding changes), those covenants are made at a static point in time. Are covenants an anchor? Yes. But like an anchor, it can tie you to that place and time in the past that might feel less relevant at times or like it's tying you down. Still, I think life is better with them than without them.

However, preparation is the key - knowing what you are getting into and why, and making sure that the perceived payoff (whatever that is to you) is something with staying power, that you have enough internal reasons and benefits to make it have sustainable value. Things without sustainable value are usually external pressures to conform (e.g. going to the temple because you are expected to do so, not because you are prepared or ready), or beliefs that are unrealistically lofty (e.g. thinking of the sacrifices of the temple or baptism the way one thinks about buying indulgences - as a business transaction to gain salvatiion).

Just a few thoughts.

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Heber13
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Re: Making and Keeping Covenants

Post by Heber13 » 10 Sep 2009, 14:46

hawkgrrrl wrote:Things without sustainable value are usually external pressures to conform (e.g. going to the temple because you are expected to do so, not because you are prepared or ready), or beliefs that are unrealistically lofty (e.g. thinking of the sacrifices of the temple or baptism the way one thinks about buying indulgences - as a business transaction to gain salvatiion).
Interesting you put it that way, hawkgrrrl, because I think this is how I was prepared to go to the temple. I need it for salvation, so I better get ready. I better get ready at 18, cause I'm going on a mission at 19.

I always appreciated my dad giving me books to read, and taking me to Yankee Stadium so we could sit at the very top row in nose-bleed level all by ourselves and watch the game and he could tell me about the temple from his point of view. I felt pretty prepared when I finally went. I had a good experience. I never felt shocked or wierded out.

...but now I believe the basis that I made the covenants under was based on a lot of things that are more complex than I thought before were simple and straight forward and just the way it was done for everyone since Adam's day. So, do the covenants still apply to me now when I made them under a different understanding? I hold on to them and tell myself I made the covenants so I am bound by them, but I also have a new way of looking at them and reconciling their meaning.

Perhaps the covenants to laws of sacrifice, chastity and others never change. The message or the teaching around those principles change and develop as we change during our life, and circle around the anchor, not uproot and re-anchor somewhere else.

Just my random thoughts on it. :roll:
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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