Zelophehad’s Daughters

What Do I Want?

Posted by Seraphine

I’m at a point where I have never felt more free to choose the path I want my life to follow. In many ways, this is a wonderful thing, but my biggest dilemma is that I’m struggling to figure out what I want. I know I love teaching high school English and want to continue in this profession. And I know I eventually want marriage and motherhood. Recently, however, I’ve been thinking about my patriarchal blessing, and doing some reevaluating.

My patriarchal blessing paints a relatively detailed picture of a future life I have yet to realize. I’ve been reading my blessing, wondering if the life it depicts is the life I would currently choose for myself. I’ll admit there are some meaningful promises in my blessing, but at the same time, it paints a picture of religious dedication and service that feels discordant with where I currently am spiritually.

Also, given what’s happened the past few years, I’m not sure what sense to make of what it says about marriage. My patriarchal blessing says my “choice companion will be designated to … [me]” and if you’ve been reading my blog posts the past year or so, you know how that’s turned out thus far. I am happy with where I’m at right now, with dating and with my life overall, but in a number of ways, I’m abandoning the narrative of my patriarchal blessing. And that’s a bit scary.

Additionally, I’ve just started dating someone, and the process of trying to figure out this situation has amplified my fears and questions. Since I am approaching things differently, how will I know it’s what I want, and how will I know if it’s right? And what if God gets involved again in complicated ways? I know I recently decided to work on my relationship with God, but rebuilding is a slow process, and I’m still highly ambivalent about turning to him for guidance on this issue. The necessity of knowing what I want (since I am largely trying to follow a path of my own choosing) has never been so pressing.

To deal with my fears, I’m currently trying to take things as slowly as possible–to take things one small step at a time and to not jump into anything until I feel ready. I’m following a process similar to that in Alma 32: planting seeds, and then seeing if the seed produces “good” fruit. I am finding good fruit, and I’m hoping that as I take my time trying to figure things out, a clear path forward will emerge. But there are no guarantees, and relationships are nothing if not messy.

I’m not really sure what kind of comments or feedback I’m looking for. I know I have to figure this out myself. I guess I just wanted to put this out there–to say I’m a bit scared and uncertain–and have other people hear that. Because I’ve found that it helps.

9 Responses to “What Do I Want?”

  1. 1.

    You know, Seraphine, I’m almost 59 and I have no clue where my life will go. The best I can do is roll with those punches. A lot of my friends feel the same way. Life is all about change. I don’t like it, but I guess God does.

  2. 2.

    Perhaps this is out of place here, but does anyone’s patriarchal blessing come true in the way they think it will? My guess is not. What happens when the blessing says – if you stay strong in the gospel, your kids will stay strong in the gospel – and your kids leave the mormon church? Despite the fact as far as you can tell – you stayed strong? How do parents make sense of that?

    I had always heard the blessing was more of a guide.

    I like trying to find out what you want, to live authentically and to take your time. I think that’s a great way to live and be.

  3. 3.

    I had a similar fear when I decided to leave grad school. My p blessing talks quite a bit about education, and specifically public health and research. I felt like leaving grad school would be like telling HF I didn’t care about what he said I could/should be doing because what I wanted in the moment was more important to me.

    And then I spoke with my branch president and he helped me come to terms with the fact that what HF really wants is me to be happy. Not short term, eat drink and be merry happy, but really truly at peace with me, despite what life does. And staying in grad school just wasn’t cutting it.

    So I decided to leave, and life’s been pretty crazy since, certainly not a “and then all my dreams came true!” story, but I still feel like it was the best thing for me.

    That being said, I have no idea where I’m going to go next. I’m trying to convince myself that that’s a good thing…

  4. 4.

    What does “designated” mean?

  5. 5.

    One of the things that surprises me about my patriarchal blessing is that in many ways, what has been mentioned has ended up not being a predictor of blessings alone, but a warning system for the trials I would have. So, for example, it talks of family (of origin) relationships being bound in love, and things were actually, instead, really difficult for a while. I realized that having something about that in my blessing helped give me hope during those hard times. I have several other examples of such.

    I guess my point is that sometimes I think it’s easy to think of a patriarchal blessing as a linear fulfillment kind of thing, and of blessings as things that just come. Rather, I think sometimes things are mentioned for the very reason that they *won’t* be so clear-cut, so they can provide an anchor during hard times. For me, sometimes it’s been almost 180 degrees away from what I thought it might mean, at least for a while while things have been messy and unclear and scary. I think the promises God has exist for those who are simply trying their best with wherever things are. It seems that is simply what you are doing — trying to do your best. And sometimes that is messy.

    I’ve been surprised at how my initial impressions (the blessings listed seemed to paint such a lovely picture) are very different now that I’m 25 years into the life it was talking to me about. But I have even more faith in the process of receiving and relying on the blessing than I ever had – I just realize that I have to engage it with an open heart rather than a prescriptive mindset. And a LOT of patience and willingness to be flexible with the messiness.

    And I think Al. 32 is about the best model for moving forward with decisions. But sheesh. It can sure take a long time for some seeds to grow! (I am often not very patient!)

    One other thought — even when we deliberately seek to involve God, sometimes He’s just going to let us move forward on our own judgment. Sometimes not receiving an answer can be a go-ahead to do our best with our own judgment. It drives me nuts trying to figure out that balance (His part vs. my part), but I think that process of figuring out is part of why we are here.

    In other words, you aren’t alone in having this be hard and scary. I’m consistently astounded at how hard it can all be.

    Best to you.

  6. 6.

    annegb, rolling with the punches is definitely key–I’m actually pretty good at that. :)

    aerin, I think patriarchal blessings are complicated. I know people who pretty much ignore their blessing because it doesn’t really reflect their life. I’ve found that it varies with the person and with the blessing.

    Enna, I really, really like this: …he helped me come to terms with the fact that what HF really wants is me to be happy. Not short term, eat drink and be merry happy, but really truly at peace with me, despite what life does. I think this is where I’m trying to get. And, for what it’s worth, I do think it’s okay to not know where you’re headed next. :)

  7. 7.

    z, I have absolutely no idea, which, given what I’ve gone through, is why I’m essentially ignoring that part of my blessing.

    Michelle, thanks. There are aspects of my blessing that I view in a “I need to hear this because it’s been hard/complicated” kind of way. But I’m realizing that I think there are parts of blessing that I just need to ignore for my own sanity’s sake–and that I need to just muddle through these issues myself (as you said, follow my own judgment). But it’s good to hear that I’m not the only person for whom this muddling is hard.

  8. 8.

    The part about God wishing us to be truly happy, in an eternal sense is dead on. But please do not be hesitant in turning to God for guidance. He will never steer you wrong and He knows what will make you happy forever. Patriarchal blessings are there for a comfort and for guidance, but the understanding of what they mean may not be given us at the start. Looking back on my life, I can see how my patriarchal blessing has been fulfilled in many ways, and in others maybe not so much because I may have missed the mark on a few occasions.

    Glenn

  9. 9.

    You know, Seraphine, I’m almost 59 and I have no clue where my life will go. The best I can do is roll with those punches. A lot of my friends feel the same way. Life is all about change. I don’t like it, but I guess God does.

    I’m only 55, but I’ve got the same thing to say as annegb said.

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