Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Quick Thoughts on Patriarchal Blessings

My mother's PB is incredibly short (hardly any advice or counsel at all), and this was from a man who was known for his long blessings. My mom is too humble to admit it, but, looking back at her life, she really didn't need much counsel or advice. However, the two things that were said were absolutely spot-on and described a mental condition that was undiagnosed until almost 10 years after the blessing and unknown at the time by her family.

Looking back on my wife's life thus far, her PB identifies every single one of her major issues - those with which she struggles continually. It's not self-fulfilling prophecy, but rather real insight into many issues of her upbringing and natural tendencies. One fascinating aspect of both of our blessings is that the focus in each section dealing with marriage is her. (She is the focus in hers, and she is the focus in mine.)

I believe the concept of Patriarchal Blessings is powerful and inspired, but I believe that they are only as infallible as the individual who gives them - meaning that none of them are completely infallible. I also believe that very few of them are inevitable. My mother's experience is an exception that proves the rule, I believe, since she herself is an exception that proves the rule. The process and the event are an amazing part of my own testimony of the Restoration, but what I make of my Patriarchal Blessing still depends on me.


Tim Malone said...

One of the duties of the Stake President is to occasionally meet with the patriarch and review, yes - read - the patriarchal blessings he gives. I'm sure we are all aware of patriarchal blessings, either by first-hand knowledge or having read about them from various sources, that promise things like, "You will be here when the Savior comes again," or "You will be among those called to build the temple in Missouri." Hey, wait! Maybe that isn't so far-fetched after all.

I don't mean to make light of a serious subject. I treasure my patriarchal blessing. My wife and I received ours from the same patriarch a few years apart when we were teenagers. I notice some similarities between them, but it is amazing how uniquely they each provide counsel that has blessed our lives. I agree that what is promised in our patriarchal blessing depends entirely on us.

Christy said...

Hmm, I'm going to have to go read mine again. I read that President Gordon B Hinckley's blessing was very short too, by the way.

Papa D said...

Yeah, Time, maybe it isn't that far-fetched. *grin*

Christy, I hadn't heard that about Pres. Hinckley. I can't say whether or not it is true, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Joe said...

As a new convert, I am very interested and excited about receiving my patriarchal blessing. This definately helps me to think and ponder about it.

Anonymous said...

"but I believe that they are only as infallible as the individual who gives them - meaning that none of them are completely infallible."
I know mine has been inspired BUT for one sentence that is just plainly the opposite of the truth, and for everybody not to think that maybe I think so but it is not the case let me state what is wrong with plain and clear words.
It is said "rejoyce then to have accepted the gospel and to live in a good family of the church". My father was psychologically, emotionnaly, sexually and occasionnaly physically abusive. My mother was emotionnaly and psychologically abusive. If this makes a good family of the church...this really disturbed me since I knew it had been inspired.
To make the story short I understand now what went wrong and I am sorry that I put so much pressure on the patriarch's shoulder. On the other hand this also enabled me to gain a perosnnal knowledge that it has been inspired.
As I have said in my blog about it I have been lucky to have a written record of the blessing I got when I was confirmed a member of the church and given the gift of the holly ghost. These were given by two different men at two different times and it is stricking to see how much similarities they have on some specific points. On some other subjects it seems that my patriarchale blessing is the logic that follows my baptism blessing.

Papa D said...

Let me know about it when it happens, Joe.

backandthen (G?), thanks for that comment. It is amazing how we learn about these things.

SilverRain said...

Since my marriage, I have felt like a failure because my life is not what my patriarchal blessing promises. In sharing this, a wise and spiritual friend of mine shared her thoughts: your blessing would not mention things that are not important to you. When she told me that the reason my blessing said what it did was because the Lord knew I would go through a time when I needed that hope and promise, I felt the strong confirmation of the Holy Spirit.

I don't think a patriarchal blessing is a fortune, it is a guide. It is something to follow and shape your life by. For example, if the blessing promises you a great mission, but you die before you can serve that mission, perhaps it is only that you must live your life as if you were to serve a mission.

God's ways are not ours, and it is hard to remember that He sees the whole picture.

Papa D said...

Excellent perspective, Silver Rain. That is a wonderful thought.

Tasha said...

When Daniel received his PB the patriarch called him by the wrong name thru the whole blessing. (it was a time in dan's life when he probably was relly trying to find out if there was a god, and if HE knew him.) I was devastated and didn't know what to say or do. I kept thinking my husband or the patriarchs wife would correct him. neither did. When he finished the first thing his wife said was :his name is daniel" the patriarch just replied "that's the name he is known by here, not there".
i did not know what to think or do. dan fell into inactivity for a time, but now has totally turned his life around. when i read his blessing, (and i usually read all of my kids once a month) i can see how much insight was given to a man who knew nothing about my son. i can see how a loving Heavenly Father knew his son and what he really needed.
as a side note, i do not know who is more blessed to have the other, you or michelle. its surely a match made in heaven.
love you.

Papa D said...

Thank you, Tash. It's amazing how many different experiences there are with a PB.

I think I married above myself, but one of the things that makes our relationship so wonderful is that she feels the same way - that I married above myself. (j/k, babe)

Mama D said...

There are as many different experiences with PB as there are people who receive them. The older I get, the more I appreciate mine and understand why the Lord told me certain things. It's an amazing blessing!

Michaela Stephens said...

Sometimes we have to be aware that the way that the patriarch expresses something may be in terms that are different from what we are used to. The patriarch who blessed me told me I would learn a particular skill and I thought he meant X. I would often feel sad that I wasn't developing the skill of X. It took about.. oh... 16 years for me to realize that the term he used really encompassed the skills of Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,X,Y, and Z. And I had been busily acquiring and honing Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,Y,and Z ever since I was 3 years old. (X will come in its time, I'm sure.)

The other thing I've learned about patriarchal blessings is that the meaning of the words (and the experiences they represent) is bigger than the words themselves, just like the experience of reading all the words in the dictionary is much bigger than the mere phrase "reading the dictionary" itself.