Guest Post: And Then She Blessed Me
About a year ago I was overwhelmed by the prospect of applying to graduate school. Although it had always been a part of my plan when I returned to finally finish my bachelor’s degree with a four-month-old baby in tow, I felt suddenly confused by which programs I should apply to. Additionally I was beginning to feel the inadequacy I think everyone feels when they’re thinking of applying to programs for further study.
To complicate matters, my husband was preparing to apply for yet another graduate degree, and the odds of our cross-applying actually working out seemed improbable considering the disparity of our interests.
I was beginning to feel that maybe I wasn’t cut out for grad work. At least not yet. Maybe it would be better, since my husband had a better idea of what he wanted to do, to “take turns” and concentrate on his interests for now. Maybe I should take some time off and decide for sure what I wanted to do. But then I’d go back and forth again until I was in the throes of a full-on existential dilemma.
One night, fed up and desperate, I asked my husband for a priesthood blessing. Despite my own complicated feelings about women’s exclusion from priesthood practice, I’ve never truly discounted its validity. He put his hands on my head and gave me some words of assurance and comfort. And I felt better, for the most part.
But something was still amiss. Looking for further assurance, I finally decided to meet with one of my former professors; a woman who had been a catalyst of and role model during my own feminist awakening, she had become a good friend to me.
We met at her house. She promptly provided treats and cartoons for my daughter who by this time was over two years old and then we sat down and talked about how confused I felt. I told her I had decided not to apply to graduate school for the following year.
I can’t tell you what happened next in very great detail, because honestly, I don’t remember it very well myself.
What I can tell you is that although she didn’t put her hands on my head; although she didn’t invoke any priesthood order; although she didn’t say “amen” at the end; she blessed me. From her mouth came words of inspiration that were every bit as meant for me as any of the words my husband had spoken a few nights before. She gave me the answer I hadn’t been looking for, but that I needed. And I could feel the presence of my Heavenly Father, but especially my Heavenly Mother, through her words.
I left her house and never looked back. I got to work and applied to every program I felt would be a good fit. The next spring, as we waited for responses from both of our programs, I got acceptance letter after acceptance letter, while for a long time it appeared my husband wouldn’t get into any of the programs he’d applied to.
There were complications, but eventually, miraculously, my husband and I ended up at the same University and it has worked out beautifully. Since starting my program this fall, I’ve had multiple assurances that I am where I am supposed to be; that despite my confusion, the blessing from both my husband and mentor gave me the courage and faith to take a step into the dark, hoping things would work out.
But this isn’t really a story about me going to grad school. This is a memory of a lesson I needed to learn at that point in my life. That although my professor didn’t physically place her hands on my head; although she didn’t officiate as a priesthood holder; although she didn’t say my full name at the beginning or “amen” at the end; it wouldn’t have given the blessing she gave me any more validity if she had. She blessed me. That’s what matters.
(Jen is a wife; a mother; a sometime world traveler; a woman trying to align her values and her daily living. She dreams of libraries, rooftop gardens, urban homesteading, local-eating, mindfulness and minimalism. She studies at Columbia University.)