I received my Patriarchal Blessing in June of 1997, just a few months shy of my 16th birthday. I decided to get my blessing at the urging of my bishop and Young Women leaders, but to be completely honest, I was terrified.
I had made the decision to start regularly attending church about 6 months earlier and was still extremely self-conscious and uncertain about my spirituality. At the time I lived with my dad, who, although supportive of my desires, was not religious. My mom had moved from my small hometown in Wyoming to be closer to her mother in Salt Lake City after her divorce from my dad, and although she made the effort to take us to church when we were younger, had been struggling for several years with her testimony. I had not attended church regularly (and even when I did, it was sporadic at best) since before my baptism at age 8.
I had been interviewed by my bishop, nurtured by my Young Women leaders, and encouraged by my mother to receive the blessing. Although not into church herself at the time, my mom decided to attend the blessing with me and drove from Salt Lake City on a Sunday afternoon to accompany me to the Patriarch’s home. I had fasted and prayed the best I knew how in an attempt to prepare myself, but I could not shake the feelings of fear and dread that seemed to nearly suffocate me as we drove in silence.
I felt so incredibly unworthy. I was sure that Heavenly Father was so disappointed in me and my lack of church attendance for such a large portion of my life. I had visions in my mind of the Patriarch going to place his hands on my head to begin the blessing, and then banishing me from his home as the spirit communicated to him of my unworthiness. Looking back with the experience and knowledge I have now, it seems incredibly sad and borderline ridiculous that those thoughts would ever enter my mind. But they did. And for me, they were real. For a lonely and insecure 15-year-old girl trying to navigate the crazy world, they were very real. So real in fact that my hands were literally shaking as I went to knock on the Patriarch’s door when the time of my appointment arrived.
The Patriarch opened the door with a smile and invited my mother and me inside. I was still shaking as I took my seat and felt the Patriarch’s hands rest upon my head. But in an instant, the lifetime of fear and panic that had nearly overcome me just minutes before completely evaporated as I heard this sweet man say these words:
“Lindsay, one of the important parts of this blessing is for you to have a feeling and a knowledge that you are a noble daughter of your Father in Heaven and that He loves you and that He is anxious for you to be happy and successful in this life...”
Happy? Successful? Was that even possible?
I was so flawed and afraid. Life had been so hard and confusing. Was it really, truly possible that I was not only loved by my Heavenly Father, but that He considered me to be noble and was concerned about my happiness?
I felt a feeling of peace, joy, and calm wash over me unlike anything I had ever felt before. I don’t think I heard a single word of the remainder of my blessing as I sat in silence and let the tears fall. And fall some more. I couldn’t hold back the flood of emotion that overcame me in that precious moment. There was no doubt in my mind that Heavenly Father was real. Even though I felt like a tiny speck in a tiny corner of an immense universe, He knew me. And despite knowing me, He still loved me. For the first time in a really long time, I felt like I was going to be OK.
That day was a turning point in my life. And although I’m still learning to shift out of fear and shift into complete love and trust in Him, I have never doubted His existence since that day. And I am continuing to learn what the sweetness of the love of God looks and feels like in my life. I am learning that He is aware of every trial and challenge and tear and bad day and that He loves me completely, exactly where I am.
I wish I could go back and look that sweet, terrified 15-year-old girl in the eye, give her a huge hug, and thank her for doing something so scary yet so brave. I am who I am now because of the decision she made that June day.