By Leslie Rasmussen
Whenever I hear my friends talk about their great fathers and how much they bless their lives, I get jealous. It is times like this that I feel a great void in my life. It is hard to be in Sacrament meeting (weekly worship service) on Father’s Day listening to people go on about how their fathers are great examples of service and love when my father is an example of evil.
I grew up in a home where my father took us to church every week. My father fulfilled church callings (assignments). I remember him giving talks and sharing his testimony of Jesus Christ in Sacrament Meeting from time to time. And when he did he would get teary-eyed at the pulpit. He went hometeaching (monthly visits to families assigned to the hometeacher) and was always happy to lend a helping hand. Everyone who knew him liked him; including the various Bishops and Stake Presidency members (church leaders) we had over the years. But in our home everything was different. Our home was a home of fear, abuse and heartache. All of which was created by my father. He abused his children physically, emotionally and sexually. What do you think my first impressions of the Priesthood were? I thought it was a Good Old Boys Club. I thought that all Priesthood holders were similar to my dad. Helpful and kind on the outside, but behind the scenes, selfish and destructive. But the Lord with His tender mercies and generous grace set out to teach me what the Priesthood is truly about.
One of the first experiences that taught me the true nature of the Priesthood was when I heard a talk given by President Benson (13th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I don’t remember the talk or exactly what he said, but I remember the Spirit in which I felt. I felt President Benson’s sincerity and gentleness. I even felt his love. I knew that President Benson was a true messenger of Heavenly Father.
Another experience I had was when I was a teenager. My mother was in intensive care at LDS Hospital. I received a call to get there as soon as I could. When I walked into the private waiting room, the entire Bishopric was there with my family. By the look on the Bishop’s face, I knew that my mother had died. But what is more remarkable, was the genuine love I felt from all of these Priesthood leaders. They were concerned about me. They showed compassion toward me. I felt the Christ-like charity from each of them.
When I served as a missionary in the Texas Dallas Mission my President was Paul Hanks. He and his wife showed me so much love and kindness that I literally had, up to that point, never felt so loved in my life.
Another testimony to the Priesthood that I have experienced many times has come from various Bishops and other Priesthood leaders. Whenever I have sat in their offices for whatever reasons, I have felt nothing but love and compassion. Many have served me with loving counsel and Priesthood blessings. They all have different personalities and different ways of doing the Lord’s business, but their love and commitment is always the same.
All of these experiences led me to the decision to marry a truly worthy Priesthood holder. Chris and I have been married for almost 14 years. I can say without a doubt that they have been the best years of my life. Because Chris has been genuinely worthy to hold the Priesthood, my life has been greatly blessed. He has given me priesthood blessings countless times when things have been tough or when I have been struggling. He has set an example to my boys and my daughter on how a righteous Priesthood holder should conduct himself in public and in private. He has created a home of peace and love. A home where there is a lot of scripture study and prayer. Most importantly he has made our home a safe place for all who live there as well as all who visit. I know how important these blessings are. I will never take them for granted. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has blessed me. I was blessed in times of trial during my childhood, and I am blessed now in times of peace.
I am also very grateful for the righteous men that have served as Bishopric members, scout leaders, YM leaders and primary teachers to my boys. I know that much time is required for these callings. And this is time away from their families. But because of their sacrifice, my sons are learning how to be righteous men. My sons are lucky to have a valiant father to be their first teacher on such things, but in addition to that, when they are at church or scouts I know that they are being further influenced by worthy priesthood leaders. For these blessings I am very grateful.
Oh, how the Lord has blessed me with so many blessings from the Priesthood! I know that it is truly the Lord’s power here on earth. I know that it is sacred. I know that Heavenly Father has given it to us so we can return to live with Him.
I would like to close with one last thought. When Heavenly Father sent us to earth with free agency, He knew that we would have the ability to hurt each other. Sometimes we hurt each other with small offenses and sometimes with BIG ONES! So Heavenly Father sent Jesus Christ to Atone for us. We know that with repentance through the Atonement that the sinner can be made whole. But what about the person that gets hurt? I am here to tell you that the Atonement not only provides complete healing and restitution, from the heartaches inflicted by others, but there are always extra blessings too. If there is something that you are suffering from, I encourage you to take advantage of the Atonement. And if you are having a hard time navigating this path, go see the Bishop. He will help. This is one of the many roles of our Priesthood leaders. And I am very grateful for all of the Priesthood leaders along the way that have helped me get to where I am.