“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
“Have you considered getting a patriarchal blessing?” my friend Sarah asked. She and I were in the temple preparing for my sealing to my husband. I was very excited. I had joined the church a little over a year before, in 2013, and had been waiting for this day since my baptism.
I told her I had thought a bit about it, but the fact was that I had thought a lot about it. I knew that it was something I should do, but I wasn’t sure that I needed one. I was in my forties. The vast majority of important decisions had already been made. What possible use could a patriarchal blessing have for someone my age?
I was also a little scared of what my patriarchal blessing might say. The year before I had heard a general conference talk by Elder Carlos A. Godoy titled “The Lord Has a Plan for Us!” He described how, to fully realize the promises from his patriarchal blessing, he decided to quit his job, sell all he had, and move himself and his family to the United States so that he could continue his education.
I loved my job and my customers. Getting my degree and license was not easy. It took a lot of work. I was afraid the blessing would tell me to quit my job and go into a totally different field.
Sarah is a dear and wise friend, so I thought over her words to me carefully and discussed it with my husband. In the end, I decided to ask for a patriarchal blessing.
The day of my appointment, my husband and I drove to the patriarch’s home. We took off our coats and snow-covered boots in his front entrance. He led us to a nice room where we chatted for a bit. Then he gave me his blessing.
I knew that a patriarchal blessing was a blessing from Heavenly Father, but that realization was made much clearer by some of the things the blessing said. There was no way the patriarch could have known how perfect some of the details in the blessing were for me. The Spirit was very strong in the room, and I left feeling comforted and loved.
In 2018 I had a serious hemorrhage that led me to be hospitalized for three blood transfusions. I had an MRI. It showed that the root cause of the bleeding could easily be cured with surgery. The bad news was that a growth had been found that could be cancerous. There were no tests to rule it out. I was referred to an oncology surgeon.
I was terrified. The hospital stay for the transfusions was the first time I’d been in a hospital. The closest thing I’d ever had to surgery was having a cut on my chin sewn up when I was very young. Now I was going to have to have major surgery, and if it turned out that I had cancer, I might need to be treated with chemotherapy and radiation.
Questions flew through my mind. How was I going to manage? How was I going to be able to work? Would there be complications during surgery? Would I even survive the surgery? As anemic as I was, I had to consider the possibility that I might die. There were many nights where I lay awake worrying about what the future was going to bring.
During this terrifying time, I started reading my patriarchal blessing. My friend Sarah had told me years before to read it regularly and ponder it often. Maybe there would be something in there that would help me.
There was. In a paragraph near the end of the blessing, there was a promise that I would have health enough to develop and use my gifts in the church, in my life, and in the community. I knew that wasn’t a guarantee that everything would turn out exactly as I hoped. I knew the Lord has His own plan for me, and that His promises could be fulfilled in ways different than I hoped. But I was filled with comfort all the same. Everything was going to be all right. I had hope, and the faith, that if it turned out that I had cancer, it would be cured or at least controlled. And if not, I could continue serving Him in a different way. After all, the Lord had promised, and He always keeps His promises.
I clung to this promise during the weeks before my surgery. I read my patriarchal blessing over and over. Every time I felt worry try to take a hold, I remembered the promise of health that I had received. I would get through this. I would be all right. The Lord always keeps His word.
I had the surgery, and it went well. I lost very little blood. The quick test on a sample of the growth did not show cancer. I recovered from the surgery quickly and was able to work a half day one week later. I was amazed and incredibly thankful at how much better I felt already.
When the pathology report came back a few weeks later, it confirmed the quick test from my surgery. I did not have cancer. My patriarchal blessing had been fulfilled the way I’d hoped it would.
The story doesn’t end there. In 2020 and 2021 we have been in the midst of a pandemic. I am a community pharmacist, which makes me a frontline health care worker with a high risk of getting sick. I have again turned to my patriarchal blessing and the Lord’s blessing of health. I have faith that as long as I follow the guidelines set out by reputable health care experts, I will be all right. I will have health enough to do what I need to do in the church, in my life, and in the community. The Lord has promised. He always keeps His promises. I have a testimony that He does.