In Doctrine and Covenants 122:9 the Lord promised Joseph Smith the priesthood would remain with him. He promised that no matter what happened, he would always be able to call upon the powers of heaven to bless others which, in turn, would bless him. That promise was given to the prophet of God, which means that it extended to the whole church.
Everyone is entitled to the blessings of the priesthood. Even those of us who grow up without it in our home. This article may touch a bit more on the personal side but only because it took these very real experiences in my life to teach me one extremely important lesson. And I want everyone who reads this to feel the same conviction that I do.
The Good Old Days
I was born in a home much like other members of the Church. As the youngest of four girls, I felt a constant need to live up to the paths my sisters blazed. My parents had been sealed in the temple and we functioned like other traditional Mormon families. My mom took the lead in raising us girls, and my dad did his best to provide. He held a co-partnership in a business that performed very successfully. Thanks to that success, we were able to do elaborately fun family activities. We traveled twice a year and went out to dinner regularly, as well as other events.
Though we were great at having fun, our attempts to have family prayer, scripture study and home evening struggled. Bless my mom’s heart, she tried to follow the prophet’s counsel to make more of an effort. But we probably said family prayer about once a week, and held family home evening once a month, on average.
Family home evening typically consisted of my dad trying really hard to give an extremely boring lesson while the rest of us made fun of him. Not because we didn’t believe it, but because he would read to us from the High-Priest manual. Sometimes my dad would get so fed up that he’d get up and walk away until we begged him to come back.
On top of all that, it took us ten years to finish the Book of Mormon once.
One of the best things I remember about my childhood was the father’s blessings we got at the beginning of every school year. My dad honored his priesthood and bore his testimony each chance he got. When I was praying and fasting to know the appropriate time to receive my Patriarchal Blessing, my dad taught me about the Tribes of Israel for over an hour in his office. He loved to build all of our spiritual knowledge.
But for the most part, my family was more goal and fun-oriented than we were spiritually-oriented. My sisters and I were more likely to be seen laughing at an inappropriate joke my dad had made or spending my dad’s fortune in San Fransisco than we were kneeling for family prayer. And my mom, well, she just put up with it all.
Now, I hope you’ve noticed a dysfunctional pattern here: dad who is overly spiritual and yet, makes countless rude jokes that leave his kids rolling with laughter. They were far from your typical “dad jokes.” He mocked Mr. Rogers and “Fiddler on the Roof,” as well as random people he saw on the street and, well, basically anyone who didn’t perform to his same level. Yet, he had a way with people and knew how to get others to love and trust him.
As a child, I would choose that dad over a strict, lesson-oriented dad any day. I never stopped to think about how much I was missing out on. My family was rich and I had a Disneyland dad who gave me what I wanted. My sisters were perfect examples of how I saw myself someday. I figured that we were just different from other families—cooler.
Little did I know that our so-called “cool” difference would soon lead to more dysfunction than I could have ever imagined.
Little did I know that “cool” dad would teach me much more about the priesthood when he could no longer exercise his.
If you’re wondering why my dad would be such a spiritual giant one second, and then purposely make fun of people the next, I don’t blame you. My dad actually had a tendency to think he was always right, to the point where his ego was the size of a large country. I never realized it as a child because he was always entertaining. But at the beginning of my teenage years, he began to make some very different choices. And those choices weren’t for the better.
For the sake of my dad’s privacy, I won’t go into detail on what those choices were. But by my 15th year, I began to see that the dad I had known and loved my whole life was gone. And with him, went his priesthood guidance. Before long, I couldn’t even ask him for blessings anymore.
It’s ironic that when I really started to need priesthood blessings, they were no longer available to me in my house. Most people request them in times of sickness and need. Well, one could imagine how sick my heart was during that time, to no longer have my stalwart dad around.
There are those who could look at that and feel like I got ripped off, partly because of a rule in the Church that only men can have the priesthood. They wonder why my mom couldn’t bless me in the same ways my dad could. They might even go so far as to question how I maintained a testimony through that time. Or perhaps I’m assuming these third-party questions because they’re questions I asked myself at some points.
The one thing that did keep me going through that time was the knowledge that even though my earthly father could not bless me in the ways I once knew, I had a Heavenly Father who could. My relationship with Him became stronger than it ever had. I pictured myself talking with Him during my prayers. I spilled all my secrets to Him and savored every spiritual experience. I trusted that He knew me personally and that He knew what was best for me.
It was almost as if the priesthood blessings my dad gave to me during my younger years had prepared me for the time when he could no longer give them.
Despite the lack of priesthood in my home, I had some really great friends with wonderful fathers. If at any time I felt like I needed a priesthood blessing, I felt no shame in asking them. I remember a particular time when I asked my best friend at the time’s dad for a blessing at the age of sixteen. He was a former bishop and had lots of experience with listening to the Spirit.
In the blessing, though I had not told him I’d been struggling with this before, he blessed me in my relationship with my dad. He elaborated on how the Lord knew me and was blessing me always. A strong warm feeling enveloped me, almost like I was getting a hug from on high. I felt more than ever that the Lord never wanted me to feel left out from anything, despite my dad’s free agency.
Though my mom couldn’t put her hands on my head and give me a blessing, she still blessed me in so many other ways. She constantly reminded me how much the Lord loved me and showed, through example, how I could use the scriptures and loved ones to get me through any hard time. Our motto was, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning to dance in the rain.”
I learned that as long as we live righteously, the Lord’s promises never go away. God doesn’t set expiration dates. His blessings always apply, so long as we have faith and call upon the powers of heaven.
Never Take the Priesthood for Granted
In the gospel, there are roles and people to fulfill those roles. But above all else, we are merely children on a spiritual journey to find Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. We are all entitled to the same exact blessings. Despite our backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, etc. we can all benefit from the priesthood.
Through my own spiritual journey, I learned that I should never take the priesthood for granted. Nor should anyone else. It is power from on high—the Lord’s power. He allows us access to it to bless us. We should always live worthy of its blessings. Sometimes I wonder if my family had been more apt to have family prayer and scripture study, maybe my dad wouldn’t have strayed like he did. But then we wouldn’t be us. I wouldn’t be me. And I wouldn’t have learned the lessons that could only be learned through those experiences.
Sometimes I still feel sad that my home doesn’t have the priesthood. But never once have I felt like I missed out. As God promised Joseph Smith, the priesthood shall remain with us forever, so long as we live worthy of it.
Comment below on how you’ve seen the priesthood bless you in ways you never thought it would.