"Let me emphasize, whether you have access to a temple or not, you
need a current temple recommend to stay firmly on the covenant path. . .
Being worthy to hold a current temple recommend is both a protection
from the adversary . . . and a promise that the Spirit will be with you."
It didn't help when I received the news that David, my severely autistic 16-year-old, wouldn't be returning to school the next week, as had been planned. His school reported they were struggling with a staffing shortage and weren't able to provide a return date.
I had been counting down the weeks and days until he returned. I told myself Dave and I could get through one more week. So much for that, David would now be going into his seventh month of being home all day.
I pushed myself to get through the responsibilities of the day. I tried working on mindfulness and a few other strategies designed to help me feel better. But it was no use. I still felt bad. Sometimes, the heavy weight of depression eases as the day progresses. But not that day.
By early evening I was done trying to make myself feel better and I was done trying to be productive. I found myself slumped into the couch waiting for bedtime. I had reached the conclusion sleep was my best option. Maybe I'd feel better in the morning.
"A member of the bishopric is going to call at 7pm to do my temple recommend interview. Do you want to do yours at the same time?" my husband, Rob, asked.
"I don't have to do it today, do I?" I asked.
"You might as well."
The idea of doing a recommend interview over the phone felt a little awkward. But the real reason for my hesitation was how bad I felt. I wasn't opposed to renewing my recommend, just not then. What if I started to cry when asked how I was doing? Besides, it's not like I needed my recommend right away. The temples were closed due to the pandemic.
The bishop's counselor was prompt and called at 7. I was irritated when I heard Rob on the phone telling the counselor how well things were going for us at home. Sure, we were getting by, but it wasn't easy. We were all feeling the strain of the restrictions imposed by Covid-19.
When it was my turn to speak I made sure to tell the person on the other end that I had had a really long day. After some chit-chat about the challenge of teaching a 5-year-old to use Google Classroom, the first counselor got to the point and asked me the first question.
"Yes," I responded. I could barely get the word out when I started to choke up. I had to work really hard to push back the tears and compose myself to answer the next question.
It was such an unexpected and intense emotional response, it took me by surprise. I'd been concerned about crying during the interview, but not for this reason. The emotion I felt at that moment didn't come from feeling depressed, it came from the Spirit. The moment I said "yes" and affirmed my faith in Jesus Christ, I felt a rush of goodness, warmth and spiritual joy enter my being.
My temple recommend had actually expired 3 months earlier, but because temples were closed and I hadn't needed to use it, I didn't notice its expiration. It wasn't until I felt the rush of the Holy Ghost's presence, that I realized what I'd been missing out on for the past 3 months. I'd been starving myself of much needed spirituality.
The beautiful feeling of comfort and joy that I received during my interview, stayed with me for the rest of the evening. The dark, heavy feeling that had overshadowed my day was dispelled and replaced with warmth and goodness.
I've often gone to the temple seeking relief when I'm struggling with depression and it has always helped improve my mental health. This time I wasn't able to go to the temple to help myself feel better, but I was still blessed with the emotional healing I'd receive from going. It was as if I had attended the temple that day.
I gained a new understanding and testimony of the importance of having a temple recommend. Even when we don't have access to a temple, we can still receive temple blessings by maintaining a current recommend.