“You Have a Noble Birthright,” Ensign, May 2006, 106–8
This past year I have seen the light of God shining in the faces of you young women so many times. I have seen it in large devotionals from Brazil to the Dominican Republic. I have seen it as you have pulled handcarts on pioneer treks. I have seen your light as I have sung and played games with you at camp. I have seen that light of God shining in the faces of girls in the baptistries of temples from Mexico to Utah. Your light has made a difference to me and many others. You have light because you are literally spirit daughters of Deity, “offspring of exalted parents”1 with a divine nature and an eternal destiny.2 You received your first lessons in the world of spirits from your heavenly parents.3 You have been sent to earth to “prove” yourselves.4
You are in a season of your life when you are making some of your most important decisions. Because you are being bombarded with so many incorrect messages about who you are, you need some additional guidance. You can learn more about your life and mission on earth and the light that is in you by preparing to receive and then studying your patriarchal blessing.
You are never too young to start learning about patriarchal blessings.5 I am glad I received my blessing before I was too heavily influenced by the confusing and incorrect messages in the world. I came away from that experience with the comforting assurance that the Lord loved me and knew me, and from that day onward I began to think more often in terms of eternity than popularity.
This is the season for young women to prepare and then receive their patriarchal blessing. Your bishop and parents can help you decide when the right time is for you, because the age and readiness are different for each person.6 When you understand the meaning and purpose of a patriarchal blessing and have a sincere desire to do the work of the Lord, you should be mature enough to receive your blessing.7 Sometimes people wait longer than is needed to receive their blessing, thinking that they need to qualify for it in some special way. If you can qualify to receive a recommend to do baptisms at the temple, then you should be able to qualify for a patriarchal blessing. It is important to prepare for your blessing with fasting and prayer so that your spirit is humble and teachable. Your personal preparation is very important.
When you receive your blessing, you get a glimpse of eternity. You begin to see a picture of what lies ahead for you because your blessing will refer to your eternal purpose and journey. The patriarch who gives you your blessing does not know what your blessing will be until he gives it. He depends on the Spirit to tell him what to say. In your blessing, you are told about your ancestry in the house of Israel. That’s your family line and your family line is sometimes called a tribe. All of the tribes go back to the great patriarch Abraham. Your lineage is important. It means that you are included in the promises given to Abraham that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed.8
Your lineage is a “blood relationship.”9 That makes you literally “children of the prophets”10 with a noble birthright. That is why we often say that you are “youth of the noble birthright”11 and belong to a royal, “chosen generation.”12
A friend of mine said: “When I joined the Church at age 16, I began to learn about my identity. I received my patriarchal blessing and was told I was of the house of Israel. At the time, I did not know what that meant, but over the years I have come to learn that I have a great privilege to be directly descended from the prophets. I have a precious heritage and the best opportunities.”
Like Abraham, you seek a blessing so you can possess greater knowledge and receive instructions from the Lord.13 When you receive your blessing, you will discover that the Lord knows you by name. In the early days of the Church, many people wanted Joseph Smith to ask the Lord for a specific direction in their lives. Some of those revelations are now part of the Doctrine and Covenants. Just like the early Saints, you can regard your patriarchal blessing as your own “personal scripture.”14 You should keep it sacred and not share it outside of your immediate family.15
The patriarch can foresee the development and conditions of your life and can give you a blessing that relates to those. As one young woman told me, “There were things said about me in my blessing that even my parents did not know.” President James E. Faust said that each patriarchal blessing is inspired, “personal revelation from God.” Each is “a star to follow, … an anchor to our souls.” They reveal our capabilities and potential.16
Because a patriarchal blessing is not meant to be a prediction of all that will occur in the life of the recipient, we should seek and follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost to receive greater understanding for our course in life. The teachings of the gospel are always a guide to a full understanding of our destiny and privileges. For example, patriarchal blessings may not mention that a person will be married or have children, but we are taught in the gospel to marry in the temple and have families. We can follow these gospel teachings on our own, without specific personal direction.
When I was in high school, a counselor read the results of my test scores and told me she did not think I would do well in college. But after I prayerfully studied my patriarchal blessing, I felt I should not abandon my lifelong goal. So, because I had insight into the Lord’s plan for me, I had hope in my heart, and I was able to move ahead confidently. I discovered that I was successful in that setting, and I earned a university diploma. When we know who we are and what we are supposed to do, it is easier to make important decisions about education, careers, and marriage. It is easier to shine our light in our families, with our friends, and in all other places.
The Savior said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
“Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house;
“Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”19
When you know who you are and what you should be doing with your life, you don’t want to hide your light.
For instance, you would not want to “hide your light” by wearing clothing that diminishes your royal potential. You would not use improper language or stories or mar your body with tattoos or other procedures debasing for a daughter of royal birth. You would not cheapen your birthright by taking into your body any substance that is harmful or addictive. Neither would you view or participate in any behavior which is immoral and lowers your noble stature. You seek all that is praiseworthy and virtuous and lovely and of good report20 because you know you have a noble heritage.
You are treasured children of the promise. If you will keep the Lord’s statutes and commandments and hearken to His voice, He has promised that He will make you high above the nations in name and honor and praise.21 Your patriarchal blessing should inspire you to make changes in your life when they are needed. It contains promises that you can receive only through your faithfulness. If you are not faithful, you cannot plan on your blessing being fulfilled.
Sometimes young women think that because they have made mistakes, they are not worthy to receive a patriarchal blessing or that they have disqualified themselves from the blessing they have already been given. Remember, the foundational teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ is faith in Him and His power to atone for our sins. “Satan wants you to think that you cannot repent, but that is absolutely not true.”22 When we take the sacrament each week, we commit to change our lives for the better. We should always be trying to become a new person who is more like our Savior Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul calls this “[walking] in newness of life.”23 If you have made serious mistakes that could disqualify you from your noble birthright, be willing to take your tears of sorrow to your bishop. He is your friend in the repentance process and is set apart to act as a judge here on earth in the place of the Savior, who is the Eternal Judge. Repentance is like a giant eraser, and it can erase permanent ink! It is not easy, but it is possible.24 The Lord said, “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”25
Young women, your patriarchal blessing will help you know that you have a noble birthright. As you get older, you will see the prophecies in your blessing taking shape in your life. The Lord has important and exciting things for you to do. This is your time to “arise and shine forth, that [your] light may be a standard for the nations.”26 “Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”27 In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.