Tonight, I read my patriarchal blessing for the first time since I left the church.
I received the blessing six and a half years ago, and it's never been useful to me. I always knew it was useless. But I don't understand how knowing it was useless didn't lead me to seriously question the church sooner.
The reason I considered it useless while I was a believer was because I lied in the interviews for it. I calmly stated that I was sexually pure, despite the fact that I'd been struggling with masturbation for a few years by then. The understanding going into the blessing, which was reiterated by the blessing itself, was that the blessing was valid according to my obedience. So, considering I'd lied to get the blessing and I probably jerked off again a few days later, I felt like I'd immediately committed a serious sin which called into question the possibility of any of my promised blessings ever becoming a reality.
I kind of felt like Marty McFly from Back to the Future. My blessing set out a basic timeline for my life, but I'd changed something near the beginning of that timeline and I wasn't sure how much that would affect the outcome. I didn't know if I'd wind up in the timeline at the end of Part I, where a lot of stuff is how it should be, with a few differences that could be dealt with, or the timeline in Part II, where everything is radically different and completely untenable. But as I continued to struggle with my "worthiness," there came a point when I figured that what was intended and what was possible had grown too far apart and my blessing's blueprint for life was no longer relevant.
The blessing is kind of a strange thing to read from my ex-Mormon perspective. It's weird to see the kind of sloppy juxtaposing of dramatic, scriptural language and modern-day mannerisms. I'm told that I made a choice to come to earth and prove myself "in this, [my] second estate," but I'm also advised that I "need to be there for" my children when they have difficulties. The whole blessing is riddled with weirdly clashing language like that.
It's also clear from my current perspective that patriarchal blessings are used to reinforce childhood brainwashing. They capitalize on deeply-held beliefs, hopes and insecurities ingrained from an early age and promise great blessings for continuing to cling to them.
I was told that I received personal instructions from God in the pre-existence...I wasn't told what they were, or when I'll figure out what I'm supposed to do, or what the point of giving me instructions before wiping my memory was, but it sure made me feel awesome to know that I was important to God in the grand scheme of things. But that's not the only useless piece of information in there.
I was told I would apply myself in my education. That didn't pan out.
I was told I'd find an occupation that would be of great benefit to me (didn't pan out), that I would enjoy (didn't pan out), that would provide me with enough money to provide for my family (didn't pan out) and would allow me to be a benefit to mankind (that's hilarious).
I was told I would have a desire to serve a mission (never wanted to) and that I would bring many into the waters of baptism (can't do that if you don't serve a mission).
I was told I'd receive my endowment (didn't pan out), be married in the temple (didn't pan out) and be a temple worker with my wife in my old age (definitely not gonna happen).
Then there's this glowing paragraph near the end full of ridiculous, emotionally manipulative promises about "well done thou good and faithful servant" blah blah blah. I'm actually very disappointed with myself for ever buying into this. I'm promised these wonderful blessings--everything a good Mormon boy could want--and warned that they are conditional on my obedience.
It just seems like the patriarchal blessing is the church's method for locking in childhood brainwashing for a lifetime. Why else would it be given most often during a member's transition from child to adult? Why else would they include such great promises and advise that it be used as a blueprint for life? It's a sickeningly emotional experience that translates ingrained doctrines into lifelong ambitions.
And that does not seem right to me.