I really love cleaning the Temple, and it's all totally selfish. I love the quiet busy-ness of it -how there's hardly anyone around and there's work to be done. I love getting my hands on the details of the Temple without a sweet elderly lady standing nearby shooting me a weirded out eye... yes, cleaning the Temple means I can take time to study the patterns in the carpet, the stitching in the doilies, the cool room tucked under the staircase.
I always, always learn something when I clean the Temple.
(I make it sound like I go ALL the time. I don't. I've been twice. Twice whole times.)
Saturday night, Danny and I stole away to the Temple, a 45 minute drive away.
On the drive over, Danny said something that really upset me. Like... the kind of thing that makes you want to open the car door and just rolllllll on outta there. But I couldn't.
I was hurt, and I wanted to be alone. I changed into my Temple Dress (they don't make those awesome white scrubs long enough for my legs-which-know-no-bounds), got my cleaning assignment and went to it... alone. My heart was ICE cold, and it felt good to really pour my energy into cleaning.
I went into the Bride's room and wiped the table tops off. I dusted the chairs, and I looked at the beautiful picture of Esther hanging up.
I could feel emotions stirring inside of me that chipped away at my Ice Heart.
Down the hallway I went, dusting pictures that each took a turn chipping away, chipping away, chipping away.
I finally ended up at the end of the hallway, standing next to a painting of the Savior, His arms outstretched, beckoning. And the chipped ice began to melt.
A very little.
I made my way into the Celestial Room to dust, and the second I walked through the door the Ice around my heart completely vaporized, vanished! I felt only peace, only calm... but there were no pictures!
I'd never noticed it before. There wasn't one single painting hanging in the Celestial Room.
I carefully ran a dry cloth over the back of the couches and chairs, careful not to mess too much with the gold leafing going on. I bent down to dust the legs of a chair, and as I came up I caught a glimpse of myself in one of the giant hanging mirrors.
And there it was.
THERE was the painting that hung in Heaven.
It was me.
All of the paintings that decorated the hallways brought me close -in feeling and emotion -to Heaven. But there in the Celestial Room, there was no need of bringing my emotions closer to Heaven... because I was IN Heaven, and staring back at me was proof that Heaven simply wasn't complete without me.
Heaven isn't complete without his Children. ANY of His children.
Fear Not, I am With Thee.
O Be Not Dismayed
For I am Thy God
And Will Still Give Thee Aid.
I heard His words penetrate my soul, His ever-familiar means of communicating through hymns brought me comfort.
I moved again across the room to a different table, soaking up the time I had completely alone in the Celestial Room.
As I made my way around, I again caught a glimpse of myself in the OTHER gigantic mirror. Again, words were spoken to my soul, but this time it was the voice of my first sponsor.
"It's between you and God, Alicia. This is only between you and God."
And there -alone in the closest space to Heaven on earth -I felt the truth of it.
Lately, I've struggled with that... with well-intentioned (? sometimes I wonder) people who know what's going on in my life trying to reason me out of my hurt, minimize it, generalize it, turn it into some distant statistic.
It always leaves me wondering WHY I'm so weak and can't just pick up and be grateful that Danny didn't "actually" sleep with someone else.
Seriously? Two sarcastic thumbs up!
It's been really difficult for me to narrow my support circle because I've only EVER expanded it, and it's even harder to LET GO of people who just don't get it, who won't get it, and who only serve as anti-Serenities.
But really? This isn't about my support circle or my family or even my husband.
It's about me and God and the mirrors that hang in the Heavenly Room that let me know:
On the walls of Heaven hang the likenesses of brave Alicias.
And in this moment right now, today: that's all that matters to me.