Beauty for Ashes

Provo City Center Temple

I love historical buildings. I love the musty smells and the creaking floor boards. I like to imagine the human stories and events of the past the hardware and walls may have witnessed. Who touched and turned the doorknobs? What sounds reverberated off the high ceilings? Was there singing? Laughter? Crying? Old buildings have stories and I love stories.

When I heard the old Provo City Tabernacle burned down, I was disappointed. I had never been inside the building, but numerous times I had seen the striking exterior. It was a historical icon and I hated to think of losing a building of such magnificence along with its stories. Regarding this event, in October of 2013, Sister Linda S. Reeves recalls the following:

Almost three years ago a devastating fire gutted the interior of the beloved, historic tabernacle in Provo, Utah. Its loss was deemed a great tragedy by both the community and Church members. Many wondered, “Why did the Lord let this happen? Surely He could have prevented the fire or stopped its destruction.”

Ten months later, during the October 2011 general conference, there was an audible gasp when President Thomas S. Monson announced that the nearly destroyed tabernacle was to become a holy temple—a house of the Lord! Suddenly we could see what the Lord had always known! He didn’t cause the fire, but He allowed the fire to strip away the interior. He saw the tabernacle as a magnificent temple—a permanent home for making sacred, eternal covenants.

My dear sisters, the Lord allows us to be tried and tested, sometimes to our maximum capacity. We have seen the lives of loved ones—and maybe our own—figuratively burned to the ground and have wondered why a loving and caring Heavenly Father would allow such things to happen. But He does not leave us in the ashes; He stands with open arms, eagerly inviting us to come to Him. He is building our lives into magnificent temples where His Spirit can dwell eternally (October 2013 General Conference. “Claim the Blessings of Your Covenants”).

As my husband and I went through the open house tour for the new Provo City Center Temple, we appreciated that such care was taken to replicate many unique architectural details of the original building. Exquisitely carved railings and wood trim adorned the stairwells. Light filtered through colorful stained glass windows. Detail after detail in each room resonated of times past while at the same time presenting new flourishes and designs.

We felt a reverent awe as we walked hand in hand through each divinely-purposed room. It was our first time together in a temple building since my husband was asked to give up his temple recommend. I was prepared for some emotional triggers, but there were none. Instead, I reveled in the symbolic nature of our experience. We were standing in a holy edifice which portrayed the beauty of its purpose; an edifice that, from blackened rubble, was renewed to something even more glorious and beautiful.

During the early days of betrayal trauma, I felt like my marriage had been totally destroyed. The fragments of memories that were left all seemed to be tarnished by the sooty blackness of deceit, addiction, and broken covenants.

I’ve spent 18 months sifting through the rubble of my marriage. I have found things worth keeping. I have found the foundation to rebuild. And like the magnificent Provo City Center Temple, I hope to work with my husband to create something even more glorious and beautiful than we had before.

I thought we had a great marriage before D-Day when our marriage was gutted, but the Lord knew differently. I have changed. My husband has changed. As Sister Reeves said of our Heavenly Father, “He is building our lives into magnificent temples where His Spirit can dwell eternally.” The prophet Isaiah prophesied that the coming Messiah would “comfort all that mourn” and “give unto them beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:2-3).  I’m still brushing off some of my soot, but I can see the possibility of a beautiful life rising before me in the future.