5 lessons Sister Craig learned from the Salt Lake Temple renovation

Flanked by fences, cranes and other construction equipment, Sister Michelle Craig of the Young Women general presidency recorded a devotional address to students of BYU-Pathway Worldwide from the grounds of Temple Square.

“The scene behind me looks much different than it did just one year ago,” Sister Craig said in her remarks broadcast to the students of the Church’s online university on Tuesday, Oct. 20. “Extensive renovations are being made to the Salt Lake Temple to shore up the foundation.”

That process can be time consuming, expensive and messy. “Do you ever feel like your life is a bit like this?” Sister Craig asked. “You want to be the very best possible version of yourself and that renovation process can be messy as well.”

Sister Craig said she sees Temple Square nearly every day and shared five lessons she has learned from witnessing firsthand the reconstruction process of the Salt Lake Temple.

Lesson #1: Much of revelation is not about the “what,” but about the “when.”

Sister Craig said she heard Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles teach that the Church knew for a long time of the need to bring the temple up to modern building codes, but the time was not right. Technology, equipment and the right team were not yet available. 

“Now they are, and look what is happening,” Sister Craig said. 

Similarly, individuals might feel something needs to happen in their own lives. “Trust the Lord and His timing,” the Young Women leader told listeners. “He knows the end from the beginning. He knows what and who we need now and what and who we will need tomorrow. If we trust Him, He will get us up to code to last for the eternities.”

Renovation of the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City continues on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.
Renovation of the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City continues on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Lesson #2: Worthwhile endeavors take much time and much effort. 

It took the pioneers 40 years to build the Salt Lake Temple, and they experienced many setbacks in a process that was slow and grueling. “What if those pioneers had given up?” Sister Craig asked. “What if they said, ‘This is just too hard’ and quit?” 

Sometimes reaching the worthy dreams and goals in life will not be quick or easy. “Just think of what you are in the process of achieving right now as you continue your education. Don’t give up on those things you feel prompted to do,” Sister Craig encouraged. “Think of this temple and keep working toward your goals and righteous desires. It is worth it.”

Lesson #3: Repentance makes us stronger and is a lifelong process. 

The current renovation is but one in a long history of upgrades to the Salt Lake Temple, Sister Craig said. Just like the temple has needed walls moved, air conditioning added and electrical systems changed, “our lives are also in constant need of repair and upgrade. The process of repentance, self-improvement and testimony building is a lifetime endeavor.”

As part of strengthening the temple foundation in preparation for the seismic upgrade, these holes are drilled. A rod will be inserted, with fasteners that can tighten both sides of the foundation wall, to add stability. Photo taken June 2020.
As part of strengthening the temple foundation in preparation for the seismic upgrade, these holes are drilled. A rod will be inserted, with fasteners that can tighten both sides of the foundation wall, to add stability. Photo taken June 2020. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Special concrete is being pumped in to fill cracks in the foundation of the temple. “The cracks in the foundation needed to be fixed even though no one could see them,” Sister Craig said. “There are cracks in all of our lives, challenges that perhaps no one else can see.”

These cracks can be filled in as individuals repent because Jesus Christ atoned for every sin and shortcoming. “His grace can make us whole. Actually, repentance is not just about fixing cracks but making us stronger and better than we were before, just like the temple,” she said.

Lesson #4: We can reflect the light of Christ. 

Sister Craig recorded her message for the devotional on her favorite spot on Temple Square — next to the reflection pool that mirrors a full image of the Salt Lake Temple.  

When the prophet Alma in the Book of Mormon asks Church members, “Can ye look up to God … with a pure heart and clean hands … having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?” (Alma 5:19), he is asking, in essence, “when others look at you, can they see the light of Christ reflected?” Sister Craig said. 

The Salt Lake Temple reflects in the reflection pool on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018.
The Salt Lake Temple reflects in the reflection pool on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

To see a reflection, there must be light. As individuals gain a knowledge of who they are — beloved sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents with an eternal destiny — they will be more likely to reflect the light of Jesus Christ, Sister Craig said. “We will be more likely to see clearly in a world that is increasingly dark.”

Lesson #5: No one ever drifted into holiness. 

In the reflecting pool, one can see the inscribed words, “Holiness to the Lord,” Sister Craig noted and then quoted John Stott, an Anglican priest, who said, “No one ever drifted into holiness.” 

“In other words,” she continued, “we need to be intentional and deliberate about developing the quality of holiness in our lives. Even the most ordinary of tasks, done with intention, can help our efforts to be more holy.”

Those who seek holiness should be found in holy places — such as temples, meetinghouses and homes. “One of the reasons these places are holy is because they are dedicated,” Sister Craig explained. “To dedicate means ‘to set apart … for a sacred purpose.’ … If temples, chapels and homes are dedicated as holy places — and if I want my life to be holy — then I must dedicate my life to that purpose.”

The words “Holiness to the Lord” — carved into every temple — are words “I want carved into my heart,” Sister Craig said.

Sister Michelle Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, records a devotional for BYU-Pathway Worldwide on the grounds of Temple Square. The devotional was broadcast on Oct. 20, 2020.
Sister Michelle Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, records a devotional for BYU-Pathway Worldwide on the grounds of Temple Square. The devotional was broadcast on Oct. 20, 2020. Credit: Screenshot from BYU-Pathway