A few years ago my husband and I were in France. While we were there, we visited many castles. I particularly remember one—it was in a beautiful setting, up on a hill for protection. From the castle walls you could see all around the green and beautiful countryside.
We crossed a moat and went into a large stone-walled waiting room where there were portraits of very solemn-faced people dressed in velvet and lace. The floors were uncovered and made of stone. All the rooms had fireplaces and heavy tapestries on the walls, tapestries which would absorb the cold and the moisture. They also had huge chandeliers with wax candles.
On the top floor was an outside walkway with long, thin slits in the stonework through which the guardsmen would shoot arrows and yet be protected from those shooting at them. I thought, “This is just like a fairy tale. It’s romantic and it’s mysterious. This is the way royalty lived. This was the very best they had in that country.”
And then I thought, “How many of us, common citizens in our own countries, have better living conditions than the royalty of past centuries.” Not only are our living conditions so much better, but so are our opportunities.
As members of the Church today, we have the restored gospel. Kings and queens had court wizards or wisemen to explain the happenings of the world to them. We have prophets to guide us, to tell us what will come and how we can prepare ourselves. Royalty in castles had none of those things.
Do you wonder at how blessed you are to be living in the circumstances you enjoy today? Far beyond material things, the true blessings of life come in accordance with your faithfulness.
The scriptures say, “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130:20–21).
Our blessings are predicated upon obedience to laws. The Lord wants to bless you. He knows you. He knew you before you were born, and he cares about you. You are children of our Heavenly Father who loves you.
This was graphically brought to my mind through an experience of my 16-year-old niece. Teriann was going through a stage. She hated Sunday School. She said her teacher was deadly dull. She didn’t like seminary. Sacrament meeting was boring, and she couldn’t stand family home evening because she had two brothers who were several years younger and had interests different than hers.
Teriann became really obnoxious. She was totally disruptive on Monday nights and it just kept getting worse. Teriann said, “Why can’t I just stop going to Church things? I’m not getting anything out of them anyway.”
After considerable discussion, her parents finally agreed that Teriann could stay home from her meetings for a certain trial period. Her father and mother felt that perhaps the release of the pressure of having to go would give her a chance to reflect on the real blessings of the gospel. One Sunday came and went, the most peaceful Sunday they had had for weeks. Monday night Teriann studied while the family met.
By Tuesday, however, while her father was praying about this problem, he had a distinct witness of the Spirit. Although he didn’t know what the solution should be, he knew that what he was doing was not the answer. Teriann’s father discussed these deep-seated feelings with his wife, who respected them. They decided to tell Teriann.
Teriann felt betrayed and wronged. She said, “You made an agreement and already you’re changing your mind—it hasn’t even been a week yet. How can you do this to me?”
What do you think her parents could say to her? A very wise mother said, “Teriann, the Lord must love you very much in order to not let us go even one week in the wrong direction.” This impressed her. She became quiet and her defensiveness was gone.
Then her dad said, “I don’t know the direction we should go. I only know that what we are doing is wrong. If we will fast and pray about this, then we will know what to do.” Teriann joined her parents in a special fast.
They were then able to discuss the situation realistically, and her parents made an agreement that Teriann could leave sacrament meeting after the sacrament had been passed, if the speaker was boring. Teriann only left sacrament meeting once after that. She found out she really didn’t hate seminary, and a change in the format of family home evening took care of Monday evenings.
This experience helped Teriann appreciate the real blessing of the gospel, and to know that the Lord loved her as an individual. A knowledge of God’s love for us is a blessing far above the benefits of the world’s royalty. Know that the Lord loves you too, very much.
Careful records were usually kept of the ancestry of royal lines. The names of all the kings and queens and their children were carefully recorded when many others were not.
But each of you can have a record of your lineage in your patriarchal blessing. It also gives you individual guidance. If you don’t have yours yet, I encourage you to receive it . “Study it carefully and regard it as personal scripture for you, for that indeed is what it is” (Ezra Taft Benson, To the Young Women of the Church, pamphlet, 1986, p. 4).
I will share a bit of my patriarchal blessing with you. “You shall enjoy the gift of foresight and to discern the thoughts of the heart and especially to detect the powers of evil. … These gifts you must cultivate that you may not be deceived.”
Sometimes we think others have all the gifts. They seem better looking, more talented, better dressed, and smarter. But each of us has unique gifts and talents. And these gifts we must cultivate. How important are you? Important enough that the Lord gives personal scripture to you that tells you of your gifts and how to use them.
Just as a castle is nothing compared to a comfortable home; just as the life of a king or queen, even in fairy tales, is nothing compared with the advantages and opportunities you have now; neither can jewels in any crown compare with the treasures that are in store for you if you accept and act upon the principles of the gospel.