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A Father’s Blessing

By Catherine Arveseth

I sighed long as I looked out the window of my plane cresting above the Dulles airport.

My husband and I had been married five years – most of which were spent living and working in Washington DC. It had been a difficult year. Months of failed fertility attempts, and a tenuous situation that developed concerning my professional career. The company I worked for was dissolving, legal tensions had cropped up concerning a non-compete most employees had signed, and I was caught in the middle – trying to perform administrative responsibilities while also representing the needs of our staff. In short, the mental harangue over the whole predicament was a nightmare. I hadn’t slept well in weeks and I was beginning to lose weight I couldn’t afford to lose.

One evening my husband looked across the table at me and said, “I think we should send you home for a while. To be with your family. You need a break from all of this.”

I felt a surprising amount of light down that tunnel. And as he said the words, I knew it was a good idea. A few days earlier he had given me a very inspired blessing. It helped, but the angst in my chest was still visible. When I talked, my constant return to the topic revealed worries that just kept whirring. Cyclical and steady in my mind.

“I think you ought to ask your Dad for a blessing” he said. “Fathers know their children – what they need.”

I arrived in Salt Lake City three and a half hours later, my parents picked me up, and that night I asked my Dad for a blessing. I will never forget the power I felt as he began. He has a tender heart and a way with words. Always has. He believed it was important to stay close to God so he could offer sound and compassionate counsel the moment he was asked. All my life, this is the thing I have appreciated most about him.

A few sentences into the blessing, he spoke to me just as the Savior did to the wind and waves when He stood in the fishermen’s boat on Galilee. His words were not suggestion. They were a command. And I felt the firmness in his voice. “Peace.” he said. “Be still.” His fingers were warm on top of my head and the Spirit moved through them. Drop by drop, the anxiety and turmoil I had been tossing trickled out of me. Out of my chest and over my knees. I was sure if I opened my eyes I would see it, pooling black beneath my feet.

He told me God had a plan for my children. That He would fulfill every one of His promises in His own time. He counseled me regarding my work situation, and before he was finished I knew clearly what to do.

That blessing changed my life.

There is something calming and centering about returning to those who know us best. We call up memories, remember where we’ve come from. And it’s the same with our Heavenly Father. Going to him is calming, centering. He knows us best, reminds us where we belong, helps us know what we ought to do.

No matter who we are, we long for a loving Father.

Even though I am married and devoted to my husband, my need for approval from my Dad has never lessened. My desire for him to congratulate me, compliment me, love me, or simply show he is aware of me, is as strong as it has always been.

President Ezra Taft Benson said,

“Fathers, yours is an eternal calling from which you are never released. Callings in the Church, as important as they are, by their very nature are only for a period of time, and then an appropriate release takes place. But a father’s calling is eternal, and its importance transcends time. It is a calling for both time and eternity” (Ensign, November 1987).

In a world where roles appear to be lessening in importance, I believe the role of Father (and Mother) still are, and will always be more important, more influential, and more far-reaching than we comprehend.

In our little home, the whole world shifts for the better when Daddy walks in the door. And I am grateful. With Father’s Day a week away I want to celebrate good Fathers.

Tell me about your Dad. How has he influenced your life? And if you haven’t had a Father you could count on, who have you looked to?

About Catherine Arveseth

Catherine Arveseth is mother to five children, including two sets of twins. She is an exercise physiologist by profession, writer by passion, loves hiking with her family, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and the edge of an ocean. She and her husband, Doug, began their family in Virginia but now live in Salt Lake City, Utah. She blogs at wildnprecious.com.

28 thoughts on “A Father’s Blessing”

  1. This one is hard for me. I lost my Dad when I was only 19. I've adjusted over the years. But oddly, it is now, when I am struggling with the challenges inherent in parenting a headstrong teenager (one who is not unlike myself in many ways), I find myself wishing I could go to my long lost father and ask for advice, which is something I was rarely wise enough to do when I was a teenager. I wonder even now if he were still here, would I share with him the heartaches and dilemmas I face? And if I did, would I have the courage to listen to and follow his advice?

    I honestly don't know.

    It's interesting to me that you write about your father in the context of a Father's blessing–something comes from two fathers. I sometimes struggle with my relationship to my Father in Heaven. But it is almost always in the context of a priesthood blessing I am most conscious of His familiarity with me. Of His knowing me and loving me.

  2. my heart's desire was to have a dad that would/could do a spiritual something in my behalf. that part of my life was largely out of my control.

    i did provide a Priesthood daddy for our children.

    having said that…my dad has been a beacon of so many noble virtues i count myself blessed. truly blessed.

  3. I looked to my uncle. He is not perfect, but he made and makes concentrated efforts to include his children in family decisions, taught them how to work hard and has even been there for me when I needed a father-figure to talk to.

    I look to my father-in-law. He loves the Gospel and his family and serves others without complaint. I am grateful for how easy it was to accept him into a father-role in my life.

    My husband is such a wonderful father to our boys. He really loves them and shows it. If our three-year old wants to help, Brian will let him, no matter what the task is or how much longer it takes him to do it. He is devoted to the Gospel and its teachings, a great example to our children in that way. I feel so blessed to have him.

  4. This was a really hard read for me. I have no father, and my (ex) husband failed us in every way and is gone. I am tender and envious of women who have good relationships with their fathers, and wonder what that would even feel like.

    Thank you for sharing.

  5. This post brought tears to my eyes. I have a very difficult relationship with my father and I have longed to go to him for the comfort of a father's blessing and wise advice, but our relationship is so strained that I don't feel that I can trust him. My husband has filled the role of mouthpiece to the Lord in providing comfort and wisdom, either through blessings or conversation when my father and so many priesthood leaders have failed me.

  6. So beautiful and moving! 🙂

    My father's logic has always inspired me. He is strong, level-headed and logical in all things, including the gospel. When my emotions get the best to me, I turn to him to set me on a course that is logical and reasonable. I always know he has my best interests in mind.

    My grandfather has had equal influence in my life. His passion for life and faith in the Lord have always touched me.

    I'm grateful for the worthy and wonderful father figures in my life. Again, thanks for the reminder.

  7. Sitting in my father's funeral, having never met him, I listened to the words "till we meet at Jesus' feet" and wished for that day. I had no relationship with my father but am thankful everyday for my grandfather (and grandmother), who raised me.
    I have never met someone who did what is right ALL the time! I have learned from him compassion, the law of tithing, fellowship and mostly love.
    As we prepare to go through the temple in just one month to be sealed, I am grateful for my husband. He has brought the priesthood into our home and is growing so much in the gospel. I now look at him and am so glad to have that connection to our Father in heaven in our home. What a beautiful blessing Fathers (in every shape and form) are!

  8. Thank you for your beautiful writing, Catherine. You have an extraordinary gift for evoking emotion.

    Like so many others, I lack a compassionate father; it is a great source of sorrow in my life. Because of my experiences, I believe your writing is crucial. We MUST continue to preach and teach the ideal if we want to raise a generation of good fathers. The 'world' may see less and less use for fathers but in the gospel we know that fathering and presiding with the priesthood is God's plan.

  9. I struggle in my relationship with my father. He had a horrible temper when I was growing up, and spanked to discipline us. He really feels bad for spanking us so much, and about his temper. Of course, it took publicly humiliating me for him to start working on his temper. Yeah, I feel so great about that.

    I know I need to forgive him and work on our relationship, but it's really hard. He has wonderful qualities, he really does, but it's a struggle.

    I envy those of you who have great relationships with your fathers.

  10. In response to all of your tender posts – I am broken for the void and loss many of you have felt. I had an entire paragraph written in an attempt to be sensitive to those who have not had a good father (or husband) or who have not known their fathers. Because I knew how hard this topic would be. But I just couldn't figure out what to say. I couldn't say anything to make it better. Your honesty here, however, is a real boon. An insight into strong women who have made righteous choices without that influence in your lives. I will respond to each of you when I have more time. I'm trying to pull off a luau birthday party for my daughter this afternoon and we have a gas leak to deal with. But I am so grateful for your heartfelt comments. I will be back later today…

  11. My heart was really touched by this, Cath, and while I'm so grateful for my good dad and my good husband, my heart also aches for Tracy and Michelle and those of you who struggle with fathers who have caused more pain than happiness.

    I was struggling a couple of months ago: I had an enormous hurdle to jump and I wasn't getting enough elevation to make it. My heart was heavy a lot of the time, and although I had a few blessings from David, when my parents came to visit, I asked if my dad would give me a blessing, too. That weekend I had already witnessed him give the gift of the Holy Ghost to my Kate (it's now the tradition in our little family for a grandpa to do confirmations), make my brother a high priest, then stand in the circle as this brother was made a bishop. To have watched him honorably hold his priesthood and bless the lives of so many of us in one weekend reminded me that the priesthood blesses both those that hold it and those who receive blessings through it.

    My dad is a very good man, but is not a perfect man. I've learned to forgive him his weaknesses as I recognize my own, and because I know he's human, I am even more grateful for what he has learned through his priesthood service.

    I agree with Michelle: our world needs to have an ideal to reach for. (It's how I've come to terms with "Mothers Who Know.") I just wish every child (and adult) had a father to show them how to work toward that ideal.

  12. This is a beautiful post. What a sweet, tender moment of your life. The imagery you used to describe your anxiety is amazing, "pooling black beneath my feet".

    My own father was distant and abusive and made so many bad choices that really caused me to question again and again the goodness of men. I do not fully understand why it seems like fathers are so much more likely to drop the ball when it comes to raising their children. It breaks my heart really. That's why I think your post is all the more important for us to read. It gives us a glimpse of what's possible.

    In a worldwide leadership training I listened to a while back, Elder Holland talked about how the Spirit will flow into our lives much more readily if we frequently ask for priesthood blessings from whoever is able to do that in our lives for us. There is power and strength in priesthood blessings. How I wish everyone had someone in their home who was kind and worthy enough to use that power.

  13. My father was a convert and held the priesthood, but he was also abusive. So my relationship with Heavenly Father was always strained as I viewed him through the lens of my earthly father. "Fathers" were just generally hard for me.

    But then I met my spouse…a wonderful, gentle, loving man who is a fantastic father in so many ways. We married in the temple but over the years he lost his faith and though he still joins us for church when he can, he no longer believes. So I grew up without priesthood influence in my life, and now I don't have it around me either. My kids don't really know what it's like to have priesthood blessings. It's been a long time since we had them, because I didn't want them to know that their dad didn't believe (he's quiet about it) so how could we ask some other man to give blessings?

    It's wonderful that there are great fathers out there (I hope my son is among them someday), and that some people on earth enjoy the beauty of having blessings given to them when needed. For those who don't have that kind of relationship, it's probably pretty infrequent.

    If I were in majorly dire straits I'd feel okay asking a home teacher or friend etc. for a blessing. But otherwise, I am not really at ease doing so. It just feels like such a private thing, somewhat of an imposition, and I just wish the whole time that my dear husband were in a place where he could be that for us. Perhaps someday. ♥

  14. I grew up envying a friend who had a father who really cared about her. My father provided for us, but was never really interested. I get so much love from Heavenly Father. He is there for me in the funnest kindest ways.

  15. What a beautifully-written post. I, too, had such a father, but he died when I was 19, and as an only child with a very ill mother, I discovered after his death, after hours of earnest prayer, that my Heavenly Father was my Father and would assume those responsibilities for loving, comforting, and guiding me that my Father has done while he was alive.

    My husband, a convert, has a very abusive husband. I have seen the power of forgiveness when he released his father's bad choices to Heavenly Father. At his father's deathbed, when his father asked for forgiveness, my husband earnestly replied, "Dad, there is nothing to forgive." God had taken that burden from my husband's heart.

    For those who have great dads, please cherish them. It is a sacred blessing. For those dads have disappointed them, set healthy boundaries if necessary, but consider the healing power of forgiveness, which God will help us accomplish when we are unable to do it ourselves.

    My love and heart goes out to each person who has commented. I wonder in difficult situations, perhaps we are the family member who has the opportunity to teach our fathers how to experience greater peace by the examples we set and the love we show others.

  16. For those who have a hole in your hearts where a dad belongs, I have a firm knowledge that the Savior can fill any void, can offer us everything others can't or won't. His atonement has already been made, and can be new again every day for us, with every gift our heart needs. I'm sure many of you have already felt this many times, but sometimes it's nice to hear someone else say it out loud.

    I've also seen the power of the atonement work miracles in my own father and his children, miracles no one ever though possible, truly remaking my dad's heart. It's never too late.

  17. I am going to post anonymously on here for this one, even though I don't normally. I don't want to take the chance of having this somehow get back to my dad and be misunderstood by him. I love my dad. He did a very good job providing for and protecting us. He served in a variety of church leadership positions and was always faithful and dependable in his service and devotion. He was faithful to my mother and honored his temple covenants but I grew up feeling like there was always something more interesting or important for him to be involved with than me. Actually, I didn't really think much about it until I was an adult. I just assumed that how my dad handled things was how it was for everyone–that things like disciplining or giving advice and counsel was for moms to do. (In all fairness, I should mention that he came to my sporting events when he could.) When I was a Laurel I had a leader who told us that if we had fathers who did not abuse us or molest us we should thank Heavenly Father for that gift, and she was right. But I have since realized that there is A LOT more to being a father than just providing and not abusing. I wish, wish, wish that he had been more involved and interested in my growing up–I think there are specific weaknesses and struggles that I have as an adult that I wouldn't have if he had been "there" more. I know my dad is trying, that he recognizes that he made mistakes when I was growing up and that he would change it if he could. But this is still a painful subject for me. I went through a really hard experience a few weeks ago and while I got a lot of support from my mother, even though my dad knew about it I never heard from him. My mom told me that he had even an impression to call me at one point but he hadn't done it. After waiting a few days and still not hearing from him I emailed him and told him that I knew he was busy (as a bishop for the third time) or he would have called me because I was having such a hard time. (I know–I guilted him :), but the first email I typed up [but didn't end up sending] was really inflammatory and angry–I'm glad I didn't send it.) He called me a few hours later and apologized for not calling, for not doing better, etc. It ended up being a very healing, helpful phone call for me. I have hope that sometime, somehow, (in the eternities probably) through the atonement that our relationship will be all that I wish it had been while I was growing up. Also, I recognize the blessings and growth that have come to me because I've had to struggle through this–especially that I can understand (in part) others' hurt without having had to experience all that they have in this area. I am very grateful to my husband who showers our children with the attention and love that I missed growing up and I am trying to be grateful for what I DID have from my father growing up. And I am eternally grateful for my loving, interested Heavenly Father.

  18. "My desire for him to congratulate me, compliment me, love me, or simply show he is aware of me, is as strong as it has always been."

    I was struck by this sentence. It is exactly what I explain to my husband that since my father wasn't good at this I have issues feeling loved and sometimes it affects our marriage.

    A father's role is so vital to a child's sense of self. My father tried. He just made so many mistakes that he doesn't recognize the negative impact it has had on his children. On my mission I was envious of the sister who received weekly letters and father's blessings in the mail. I finally got one letter from my dad after begging.

    He did give me blessings at the start of each school year and was there somewhat for me for advice. But it was how he treated others as more important that always hurt.

    I won't go on about his faults as I too have learned to be more forgiving of them and through knowing my heavenly Father and Savior haved learned to feel loved.

    I just want to echo what has been said about reaching for an ideal. If we know what is best, it is easier to move in that direction. I'm very grateful for a good husband.

    Sorry this is disjointed. I do still have issues! But my dad actually called me this week and was kind and attentive on the phone. I still have hope for healing my daughter heart.

  19. Dear Sisters, I am just coming back to your comments and oh, my heart is both aching and filled by what you have said. You are beautiful, broken, healed, forgiving, and so very good. Thank you for sharing such intimate feelings. As I have tearfully read this thread, a few themes have risen out of your words:

    * No Dad is perfect. Mine isn't, yours isn't. None of us are. Most of you acknowledge this with compassion and a sense of optimism – which is so healthy. Kerri – I especially loved your comment. Thank you for pointing this out.

    * We cannot stop talking about and teaching the ideal. This was a powerful statement coming largely from those of you who have not had the ideal in your life (Michelle, Anne Marie, Sage). But hearing from those who do have strong fulfilling relationships with their fathers is encouraging. And I want to clarify that "ideal" does not mean "perfect."

    * Priesthood blessings are key to connecting us to our Eternal Father, the one Father who is perfect. He cannot fail us, disappoint us, be less than we think He ought to be. Dalene – you mentioned that through blessings you feel most keenly God's love and knowledge of you. Others of you mentioned how helpful it is to ask for blessings, even when it is difficult or not easy to find a worthy "blesser" – but you have reminded me that this venue is designed for us to partake of a Father's love in a most pure form. That said, Blue – you are in a challenging place. I would be sensitive in your situation as well – feeling it out carefully. But I hold onto your last two words. They shine with hope. "Perhaps Someday."

    * Forgiveness is a true principle. I was struck by the number of you who do not feel jaded or held back spiritually because of neglectful, even abusive fathers. You are powerful examples of what the Atonement can do for us – that Christ's suffering covers all hurts and can heal is every whit. Carol – your story of your husband's conversation at his father's deathbed was particularly touching. "God had taken that burden from my husband’s heart." Quite amazing. And Cheri, this was so beautiful: "For those who have a hole in your hearts where a dad belongs, I have a firm knowledge that the Savior can fill any void, can offer us everything others can’t or won’t." I agree.

    * Our examples can stir change. I loved this from Carol: "I wonder in difficult situations, perhaps we are the family member who has the opportunity to teach our fathers how to experience greater peace by the examples we set and the love we show others." Anon – your story of emailing your Dad was an excellent illustration of this. How we can make a difference. I think it is right and appropriate to compassionately and calmly approach those who have hurt us. They may not be aware of their choices and actions. Family relationships are different in that sometimes we have to tell each other hard things. Such openness is crucial to the harmony of our souls, lives and homes. I know God sees it as necessary too. Why else would we be asked in temple recommend interviews about the relationships in our families?

    I wish I had time to respond to each of you personally. Your words have given me so much to ponder. This has been an emotional post to write. Tay, Tracy, Ashley, Laura – thanks for sharing so bravely about your losses. And to those of you who have good husbands, uncles, and other men in your life who fill that father role (Cristie, Andrea) – you remind us that the bounds of family can and should extend beyond genetics and surnames. We (collectively) need to be aware of you.

    Thanks again – all of you – for your insights. I thought this morning of this verse given by the Savior as he finishes his sermon on the mount – and how ready our Heavenly Father is to bless us.

    "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matt 7:11)

  20. Oh, my dad. Where do I begin? The years–through college away from home and a foreign mission and marriage and kids–have deepened my esteem for my father.

    How grateful I am for your willingness to share such personal details of your life in such and articulate way.

    Your experiences are such a witness of what we learn in the scriptures about how we should regard our fathers–we should honor them, turn our hearts to them, remember their words, remember their works.

  21. Catherine, you are one of my favorite writers, and about as beautiful a person as I think I've ever 'met.' Thanks for this beautiful post and your grace-filled comments.

    I've appreciated so many other thoughts shared here as well.

  22. I cannot keep the tears from flowing. Absolutely beautiful and uplifting, yet saddens me because my dad would make me feel guilty for asking for a blessing. He was abusive in so many ways. I do not have a relationship with him because of it and he started to abuse my sons.

    I learned at a very young age that I had a Heavenly Father who loved me so much! He loved me so much that I felt him with me every single moment growing up. He was there for me to talk to and even vent to. I always felt his love and comforting arms around. Because of these sacred experiences, I am where I am today. I am who I am today. I love my Heavenly Father very much and have always turned to him for advice and while he could not physically speak to me, he did let me know when I was headed the right direction and when I was not. So while my earthly father did not give me blessings, I know my Heavenly Father did.

  23. Catherine this is a beautiful post which has stayed with me for days. I was wondering if it would be okay with you if I shared your story in my Sacrament meeting talk tomorrow? I have never had a Father's blessing, so I don't have any personal stories to share, but I have felt very prompted to talk about Father's Blessings as part of my talk, and I think your story would truly bring the Spirit to the meeting. Thank you for your consideration.

  24. Mom of 3 – Of course you are welcome to share the story. You have a big job. Speaking on Father's Day! Prayers for you. I'm sure you will do well. Sweet blessings this Sabbath.

    And Shelly – "So while my earthly father did not give me blessings, I know my Heavenly Father did." Your testimony here was very touching. Thank you.

    michelle – your comments always lift me. Bless you.

  25. Thank you so much for your encouragement and kind words Catherine. My talk went well and I was so grateful to be able to share your story. I know many hearts were touched by the love you and your dad share and by his ability to bless you in the way Heavenly Father knew you needed.

  26. Cath, I am so very late to this post (one of the reasons why I didn't read the blog this past week was because I, like Mom of 3, had to speak in Sacrament meeting last Sunday—and my topic was priesthood and fatherhood!). I just want you to know that I loved this post and all of the comments. Thank you creating a space where tender and poignant feelings could be shared.

    I loved all of your post, but especially these words: "In a world where roles appear to be lessening in importance, I believe the role of Father (and Mother) still are, and will always be more important, more influential, and more far-reaching than we comprehend."



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