In a couple of weeks my youngest daughter will receive her patriarchal blessing. She’s only thirteen, but for six months now she has been pestering me and my husband about getting her blessing. At first I brushed her off, thinking she wouldn’t be able to understand the blessing’s significance at such a young age, and told her it would be best if she waited until she was a little older. But she persisted. To her credit, for the past several months she has researched patriarchal blessings on her own, read talks and articles, asked me and my husband questions, fasted, pondered, and prayed. Her desire for her blessing has never waned, nor has her insistence that she is ready.
I’ve been conflicted over letting my daughter get her blessing at thirteen. I received my patriarchal blessing when I was twelve, and later I regretted not waiting longer. But my blessing occurred under unusual circumstances: We were living in Australia at the time. Because my father was a bishop, and the Church sent bishops and stake presidents in Australia to one General Conference during their tenure, my father had the opportunity to go to General Conference the October that I turned twelve. And since my two younger siblings and I had been born in the U.S., my parents decided to take a month-long family trip to the U.S. so we children could experience American culture and spend time with our American relatives. Since my father’s grandfather—my great-grandfather—was a patriarch at the time, and he was advancing in years (to put it nicely), my parents suggested I get my patriarchal blessing from him during our visit.
Of course, I was excited at the prospect—how many people can say that their great-grandfather gave them their patriarchal blessing? But I don’t remember if I prepared much—or at all—for the occasion. I was having too much fun hanging out with my cool American cousins, and my aunt, who was only three years older than I was, and having sleepovers and putting together talent shows for the big family reunion. I was enjoying going trick-or-treating for the first time, eating doughnuts and tacos and other delicious American food, and going to a real American high school for a day with my aunt.
But I do remember that on the day I received my blessing, as my great-grandfather placed his shaky hands on my head and pronounced a blessing in his quavering voice, calm and peace enveloped me, and I felt a distinct impression of being loved and known by God. About six weeks after we arrived back in Australia, a type-written copy of my blessing arrived in the mail, and I eagerly perused it, thought about it and what my future might hold, and then tucked it away in my drawer.
Over the years my blessing has been a comfort and a guide, and I’ve seen some of its promises unfold in my life, but I’ve always had a nagging feeling that I got my blessing too young. I wish I’d better understood its significance at the time. I wish I’d prepared myself more. I’ve even wondered if my blessing would have been longer, or more detailed, if I’d been older and better prepared when I received it.
So when my baby daughter approached me at thirteen and asked if she could receive her blessing, I advised her to wait. But over the past few months, as I’ve seen her longing and her earnest desire to receive her blessing, coupled with her spiritual maturity, I’ve come around to the idea of trusting her to know when she is ready. She is far more prepared than I was at twelve. A couple of weeks ago she met with the bishop for her interview, and came out of the interview beaming, recommend in hand. After fasting about it again last Sunday, tonight she’ll be calling the patriarch to make an appointment.
I’m still a little conflicted, but mostly I’m proud of my daughter for wanting to take this step. And I’m looking forward to being in the room when she receives her blessing, to the glimpse I’ll have of who my daughter really is and what the Lord has in store for her. I’ll savor the peace and joy of that sacred experience, knowing that, just as God knew me when I was twelve and knew the future me, as well, He knows my beloved daughter and knows who she is eternally. And there’s no age requirement for that.
How old were you when you received your patriarchal blessing? How did you prepare yourself beforehand? Do you wish you’d waited longer or prepared better? What advice do you give your children about receiving their patriarchal blessings? How has your blessing been a guide and help to you throughout your life?