I sat on the edge of my bed, balancing my thick biology book as I attempted to study for the next day’s test. As I slowly turned the pages of the complicated chapter on cellular respiration, my jaw tightened as I tried to concentrate. But it was useless.
My eyes filled with tears. I had failed miserably that evening trying out for the play. It had been my first attempt at high school theater. Although untrained in the arts of dancing, acting, and singing, I had undertaken the challenging musical tryouts at the urging of my friends. I hadn’t done well. My dancing and my singing audition seemed about average. But tonight had been the final test, the portion I had counted on for success—a memorized humorous monologue, performed before the critical eyes of the director and audition board. I had prepared for my monologue days in advance, writing and memorizing the script carefully until I was certain I could perform it even in my sleep. But when I reached the school, I couldn’t think clearly. I was not only nervous but also tired and worried about my two difficult tests scheduled for the next day. I tried to remember my lines, those words I knew so well, but they slipped from me in fragments and spilled out shaky and uncertain.
Now back at home I felt a hot tear brush my lips, and I tried to muffle a sob. Nothing seemed to be going right the past few weeks. One of my closest friends was acting cold and distant. My schedule was difficult and stressful. I was feeling nagging doubts about applying to college. And now, after the embarrassment of tonight’s audition, I didn’t know how I could study or even sleep. I shut my biology book and placed it on the floor, emotion overpowering me as I buried my head in my pillow.
Then I heard my door open and my mother’s concerned voice. “Do you need a blessing?” she asked softly. I looked up, tempted to send her away. My puffy red face, streaked by tears, held the imprint of my pillow’s seams. As I pulled myself into a sitting position and saw both my parents in the doorway, I knew that a priesthood blessing was what I needed most of all. I nodded wordlessly, sniffing a bit as I stood and followed my parents across the hall into their room.
I had a testimony of the priesthood before that night. I had heard of blessings given by pioneers. And I had heard of blessings given in modern times to fire victims, children in comas, and people who are not expected to survive. I had received my patriarchal blessing two years before and knew the unique truthfulness and love it contained.
But as my father placed his hands on my head that evening, my testimony of the priesthood was strengthened. I could feel divine power in his phrases, in the gentle pressure of his hands. The blessing swept past my superficial wants into what I needed to hear most. And as my father concluded, my heart sang at the power in those words, those simple, healing words that I knew were not his. My father couldn’t remember what he had said, but I could—and my dark tangle of stress and fears had loosened into a soft and gentle peace.
I smiled at my mother, grateful for her inspired suggestion. As I turned around and hugged my father, I could feel in the warmth of his arms an echo of the love of my Heavenly Father and His Son, both watching and caring for me more than anyone else ever could. I felt so grateful for that modest blessing, those quiet, powerful, and comforting words.
That night I slept deeply for the first time in weeks, unworried and sure of my future as a beloved daughter of God.
“Each of us is going to experience pain in one form or another. … Pain may come from feeling lonely or depressed. It often comes as a result of our disobedience to the commandments of God, but it also comes to those who are doing all they can to keep their lives in line with the example of the Savior. …
“Elder Orson F. Whitney wrote: ‘No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God, … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we came here to acquire’ (quoted in Improvement Era, Mar. 1966, 211). …
“The Lord is the ultimate caregiver. We must surrender ourselves to the Lord. In doing so, we give up whatever is causing our pain and turn everything over to Him. ‘Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee’ (Ps. 55:22). ‘And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son’ (Alma 33:23).”—Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (“Healing Soul and Body,” Liahona, January 1999, 18–19)