Patriarchal Blessings (Weekend Poll)

By: wheatmeister
March 1, 2014

It’s common for teens and new members to receive a patriarchal blessing, directed to them as an individual.  Looking back, how do you feel about your patriarchal blessing?

How do you feel about your patriarchal blessing?

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27 Responses to Patriarchal Blessings (Weekend Poll)

  1. Howard on March 1, 2014 at 7:34 AM

    I received mine with egar anticipation as a believing adult and so far it’s been of no value, no relevance, it reads as if I were given someone else’s blessing by mistake.

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  2. Steve on March 1, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    My patriarchal blessing was the first big crack in my spiritual beliefs.

    I was hoping for something that would show that God knew me as a person and wanted to help me in life.

    Instead, I got the generic graduate from high school, go on a mission immediately afterwards, get married, go to college, find a career and serve in the church blessing.

    I had at the time a serious health issue that precluded a mission. It was obvious that the patriarch had no special insight. It was crystal clear afterwards that God didn’t know a thing about my needs, at least through this elderly man.

    In my case, my blessing was faith crushing and I’ve never recovered since.

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  3. Alo on March 1, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    I’m so sorry that was your experience, Steve.
    In some ways I can relate.
    A few family members came with me when I received mine, the patriarch didn’t seem to know if he was giving me or my brother a blessing, he kept asking my brother about himself as though he was looking for inspiration, and when the time came to give me the blessing, he incorporated several things he spoke to my brother about…

    It was weird, I guess it’s not really the same, but I still think back on it and wonder if he listened to the spirit at all.

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  4. hawkgrrrl on March 1, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    I’ve definitely seen PBs that look like they came off an assembly line. I felt very fortunate because mine really was pretty unique to me. My friend and I both got ours from the same patriarch near the same time, and they were each completely different. Mine talked about going on a mission, hers didn’t. Mine had personal comments about the pre-existence that hers did not. Hers talked about her children in a specific way that mine did not. Our personal characteristics were discussed in the blessing and bore no resemblance to each other. They were of completely different lengths and styles. I did find mine to be an important guide to me back then. I haven’t looked at it in years, but I suppose that’s what happens as we get older. My one disappointment was that the patriarch made a grammatical error that bothered me. But I’ve outgrown that.

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  5. Jeff Spector on March 1, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    I kind of have a problem with the lineage thing. Given that it was the very last thing he said and given that I am kind of half Levite (based on my Mother’s family side), I had a hope it would be more than the stanadardEphriam thing. At least i was not “adopted in.” otherwise, I like mine. Time to look at it again and see if I still feel that way.

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  6. Frank Pellett on March 1, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    One of the difficulties in getting a Patriarchal blessing is the tendency to treat it like just another checklist. This can be especially hard for those left behind when someone dies apparently not having gotten everything listed. I also know people who have “completed” everything on this “checklist” and gotten another blessing.

    Prophecies (which is what these fall under) can be weird. If it hasn’t happened, it means we’ve either not understood it or it just not time yet. We can’t say a prophecy is wrong, since we don’t have the perspective necessary to know for sure.

    And completely tangential to the subject (so not necessary to follow), with the dual gender paradigm (I can’t believe I actually used that word) we currently have, what would a Matriarchal blessing look like?

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  7. Hedgehog on March 1, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    I think I was very lucky that the Patriarch who gave my blessing was a longstanding member of my ward, who knew my family very well, and had even been my Sunday school teacher for a while. He’s a lovely, lovely man. So humble, so kind, so compassionate, so Christ-like and also plain-spoken. I thought he was old then, he and his wife must be nearing the century mark by now. But he’s no longer acting patriarch for the stake.
    Anyway, I was 17 when I requested mine. It was given just before I was off to Germany for a week. I thought hard about some of the curious things it had said, and one of the things puzzled me, because I thought why does it say that, I already have that. Anyway, when I got back, half the tape recording was blank, so I had to go over again so that it could be finished. This is not one of those experiences where I’m going to say, and it was identical, because it wasn’t. It covered much the same ground, but was differently phrased, such that it could not be interpreted in the way I had been interpreting it. The emphasis was very different. Also, that thing I had wondered why it had been necessary to include… that was missing the second time. It was an interesting experience.
    I think my blessing did give me the confidence to make the choices I made regarding education, and travelling abroad as much as I did. And I’m very glad to have got it through such a lovely patriarch, especially now when the very title is enough to make me feel kind of on edge.

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  8. Vizsla on March 1, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    I couldn’t really pick any of the options. I do feel like my PB describes another person–but not because it’s vague. The person it describes is just a lot better, kinder, and more faithful than I am, with gifts that are not mine. Mostly, I have been haunted by the cover letter my PB came with, where it says the blessings are contingent upon my righteousness and probably apply to the next life as much as this one. I have a tendency to beat up on myself about not being good enough to be the kind of person my blessing describes, and I wonder constantly if the reason the things it lists have not happened in my life is because of my lack of faith. It used to give me hope when I was a teenager, but I don’t read it very often anymore because it depresses me. It feels like it describes the life I could have had if I’d done everything right the first time. I might come around to enjoying it again later when I’ve figured out my life, though.

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  9. The Brother of Jared on March 1, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    My patriarchal blessing was very spiritual to me. I didn’t know my patriarch from Adam. I had a lot of questions and concerns at the time. When the patriarch put his hands on my head I pleaded with God for answers. As soon as I thought the question, the patriarch answered it. In detail. Another question asked and another answered. It was an incredible experience. To this day I have some regrets about failing to live up to all the blessings that God offered me that day.

    I’ve had people tell me of their generic faith-promoting blessings. I don’t know what to make of them. Was my blessing the fluke? I can’t begin to guess about differences in experience. I can only say that mine extraordinary.

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  10. fbisti on March 1, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    I received one shortly before leaving on my mission about 45 years ago. It was of the generic, but encouraging type.

    Patriarchal blessings can, and often do, serve an important purpose in promoting our faith, resolve, and commitment to becoming more righteous–the same as the covenant processes in the temple (and elsewhere). The culturally-significant/derived “ceremony” of these events serve to strengthen their positive psychological impact on us if we are in the right frame of mind (belief, faith).

    Believing that they imbue us with actual (and, purportedly, specific) “blessings/rewards” from God also strengthens their value immensely. But that is not something I believe is true (that they are “saving” or essential or imbued with intrinsic power). They are a very effective means to the end of helping us become more righteous–as is all good religion/scripture and other such mechanisms and techniques.

    Because I don’t believe God has a unique plan for me or anyone other than (perhaps) some key individuals (prophets?), patriarchal blessings are neither unique nor inspired by God–for all their goodness, virtue, and good report.

    In other words, they should continue but the false belief in them must also continue, so if you agree be careful with whom you share your belief.

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  11. Sally on March 1, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    In my blessing there were some beautiful phrases that were very meaningful to me. I felt like HF was near me. Then several years later I read my sisters blessing by the same patriarch and it had those same phrases. It made me feel that those things weren’t special for me, just things he said to everybody.

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  12. Jon on March 1, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    Howard is something else!

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  13. anon on March 1, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    Mine had a few specific details. As a young, naive, confused man trying to find my way into adult life I used them as a guide. They totally screwed up my life. I look back now, decades later and a little wiser, and regret that I ever thought it was guidance.

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  14. Howard on March 1, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    Thanks Jon!

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  15. Daniel Ortner on March 2, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    My blessing has helped me immensely. As a convert, my blessing strongly enouraged me to go on a mission and has helped me through rough times. I know that it is a gift from a loving Heavenly Father

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  16. Jack Hughes on March 2, 2014 at 3:14 PM

    Mine was fairly ambiguous, but positive and hopeful nonetheless. I grew up hearing stories about profound prophetic insights gained from PBs, but found them lacking in my own. I wish I could get another one.
    Also, I have noticed over the years that PBs seem to be a source of folk doctrine, faith promoting rumors and such. I wouldn’t be surprised if that old chestnut about modern-day youth being generals in the war heaven originated in someone’s patriarchal blessing.

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  17. Rigel Hawthorne on March 2, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    I agree with Jack. I’m glad that mine does not include non-scriptural folk doctrine. There are some things in mine that could be construed as ‘vague’ and could be applicable to anyone, but at different times of my life, I had seen the vague apply in different ways. That has been a source of reflection and manifestation of beauty.

    A mission companion told me that he knew two women in SLC who had PBs by the same man, and they when they compared, they were almost identical. That would be a tough blow. I felt fortunate that the Patriarch who gave me mine was a family friend who, though he didn’t know me personally so much, as the wards had been divided a few years after I was born, he knew of our family.

    As my daughter will be advancing in age to have her PB in a few years, I kind of worry because we don’t know the Patriarch in our Stake very well. I would be more comfortable if we did.

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  18. Orange on March 2, 2014 at 5:31 PM

    My patriarchal blessing is very personal and I’ve found much hope in it. I remember being terrified when I was a youth when I heard the Patriarch telling me that when I met my future spouse I would know it. And I did!

    My mother-in-law’s mother hated her first patriarchal blessing, so she got another one. I’m not sure how that happened, but it did and she must have liked her second one because she never requested a third. (:

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  19. whizzbang on March 2, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    I barely knew my Patriarch but he knew my folks really well. My brother and are POLAR opposite people and our blessings are almost the same but different in some areas. I don’t read mine anymore, it’s too painful to read so eliminate the pain, eliminate reading it. I just try to live the gospel as best as I can and come what may

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  20. Roger on March 2, 2014 at 8:33 PM

    Howard makes an excellent point. After all, didn’t mistaken identity serve as an important factor in Jacob’s patriarchal blessing from Isaac?

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  21. Sherry on March 3, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    I had a new PB decades after my first one at age 17, which contained the normal stuff. After a divorce from a long abusive temple marriage, then marrying a NOMO, I felt much of the first PB was no longer applicable. The second PB was given to me by a humble man who had known me earlier in life, so I think HE thought he still knew me and some of what he said I felt reflected that – he was giving me counsel based on who HE thought I was. And he told me my first PB was still in force – not sure what that means. I do read them both occasionally and combine the parts of both that seem to fit. Do I take them 100% literal truth? No.

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  22. ksaz on March 3, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    Even after almost 20 years, I still find things in my PB that are more relevant to me today than they were when I received the blessing. My patriarchal blessing was and is truly prophetic as there are things in there that no one could know about me, much less a man who had only known me for 5 minutes before I received my blessing. I think the efficacy of PB blessings are dependent as much if not more on the faith of the receiver going into it than the one giving it.

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  23. Stephen R. Marsh on March 3, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    When I received mine the patriarch broke in the middle of it and cried for about five minutes. I think they vary.

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  24. MB on March 3, 2014 at 7:20 PM

    Mine’s been helpful. It’s not predictive but it contains good counsel. I don’t read it often, but when I do I am reminded of good that I should continue to seek to do and practices that I should keep in mind, and strengths I should cultivate.

    I think that sometimes patriarchs are inspired and sometimes they are not. Which is too bad, because sometimes the hype in our heads about patriarchal blessings is so great that we expect them all to be wonderful, deeply personal and validating, but like any other ecclesiastical leader, patriarchs are human and mess up.

    Which is why I find it fortunate that there have been opportunities for a 2nd one when someone has felt a need for that. I also have a family member who requested and received a second one.

    In my case the experience of the blessing was not particularly good. It was rather awful. I think the man was dealing with some personal difficulties that day. He was impatient and our conversation beforehand felt rather like an annoyed interrogation about theology on his part. That part of the experience was actually distressing.

    But in spite of that the blessing was enough and the typed up copy it that I received several weeks later has been helpful over the ensuing decades.

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  25. Tay on March 4, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    I like mine and I have found that it speaks to me in the same way that I receive answers through the Spirit, so that is nice. It is because of my PB that I got married and had children, with its promises about motherhood to me, which wasn’t my original plan. But so far so good.

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  26. Kristine A on March 5, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    My mother’s PB is a list of Sunday School answers.

    Mine is much more specific, which applicable spiritual gifts that fit my temperament and personality, etc. I find it interesting that growing up all I wanted to do was have a ba-jillion kids and be a mother. But my PB speaks more to education and missions and only one word about being a mother. Turns out I have one daughter via IVF and no more coming. I find it a useful guide. Although my husband says he’s nervous, he thinks he might die early because my blessing makes no reference to him at all. :)

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  27. Sara K on March 9, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    I received my patriarchal blessing when I was 16, and was truly disappointed. I felt it was boring and trite. As an idealistic convert, I had been hoping for special messages. My disappointment prevailed until I hit middle age, when I realized that the “boring and trite” phrases and quotes really had contained a special message that was unique to me and my particular talents and inclinations! My life is still unfolding according to this direction that my PB points out. People, don’t be too disappointed in your PB, for it may actually have a positive direction that will make wonderful sense years from now.

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