The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God. Through the priesthood God created and governs the heavens and the earth. Through this power He redeems and exalts His children, bringing to pass "the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). God gives priesthood authority to worthy male members of the Church so they can act in His name for the salvation of His children. Priesthood holders can be authorized to preach the gospel, administer the ordinances of salvation, and govern the kingdom of God on the earth. (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
I was born into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The very first of my ancestors to become a member of the Church was Moses Harris, my great-great-great grandfather. Yes, when he joined the Church, Joseph Smith, Jr. was the Prophet. He followed the Church from state to state, as they were driven and brutally persecuted, ultimately losing three children to the mobs of Missouri. He followed Brigham Young westward, settling in Utah. He did all that was asked of him, from every prophet who lived during his lifetime.
Through him, his wife Fanny, and their children, comes my rich heritage and tradition in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I grew up with a father who was less than generous with his priesthood. Meaning, when one of his children was hurt, he did not give a priesthood blessing of healing or comfort. He did not step up and take his role as the patriarch of our home seriously, never teaching us in the ways of God. That job was left to my mother who did an incredible job of teaching us the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, I essentially grew up without the responsible and generous use of the priesthood in my home. My father eventually decided the grass looked greener on the other side of the fence and our family was irrevocably broken. My parents divorced when I was 14 years-old and what semblance of the priesthood had been in our home was completely gone.
There were no guiding blessings provided to help make difficult decisions. There were no healing blessings when one of us was sick or hurt. There were no blessings of comfort at times of great trial and sorrow. There was no protection of the priesthood in our home. But, in all honesty, I didn't recognize what was missing until my mother married Fritz Sluyter, the father of my heart and the patriarch of our home.
On November 8th of 1980, our lives changed forever when my mother and Fritz married. What an amazing, generous, loving and giving man he was. Through the course of the next 27 years of my father's life I saw what a difference a righteous priesthood holder can make in a home. Always generous with his priesthood, he offered a priesthood blessing whenever he felt the need was there: Whether in times of sorrow, illness or trial, he always stepped forward with a loving hand as we knelt in prayer in preparation for that priesthood blessing.
Over our home settled a sense of security and strength as my wise, loving parents raised us in a safe, secure home. Did hard times come? Oh yes, without question. But because of the underlying core of strength through the righteous use of the priesthood, despair never took hold.
The time came, as it always must, when I left home and went away to college. For 13 years I lived as a single woman, always returning to my father when I needed that extra help a priesthood blessing could give.
He was the one who taught me men should be generous with the priesthood God has given them. He taught that men should be ever aware of the spiritual, physical and temporal needs of their families. Offering blessings when needed, giving them when asked.
He was the one who taught me that women should freely ask for those blessings if they are not offered.
He was the one who taught me this powerful and beautiful holy priesthood, which formed the heavens and the earth, is intended to bless the family, thus creating an eternal family unit in the process.
Ultimately, when I married, I was blessed to find a husband who held the same views and thoughts on the priesthood as my father. He believed in blessing me whenever needed.
I worked at a computer giant for several years, the latter part of which was during the first years of my marriage. This particularly difficult time, which lasted for many months, was draining me completely until one day I simply had nothing left to give. When I returned from work, after a very hard day, I walked up the stairs to our dining room where my husband was sitting, kissed him "hello" and dropped into the chair next to him. He was getting ready to leave for work and this was the only moment we had to spend together until morning. We chatted and I recall saying:
"I'm so tired. I have nothing left to give. I am empty to my soul."
This was the first time such words had ever left my mouth. The continuous fighting at work was draining me. Being the Young Women President was draining me, even though I absolutely adored the calling. Trying to be the wife and homemaker I needed to be was draining me to the point that I literally had nothing left. My sweetheart hugged me, held me, then kissed me and left. Work waits for no one.
Five minutes later the door opened and he walked back in. "I feel like you need a blessing and it can't wait until morning," were the first words out of his mouth.
Tears began to pour down my face until I could no longer see him. Oh to be loved and treasured in such a fashion that my husband was willing to listen to the Spirit and come to the aid of his exhausted wife. A sweet and tender priesthood blessing was bestowed upon me with reminders to introduce back into my life the things I loved to do: Reading, gardening, cross stitch, BYU football . . . it didn't matter. But through my husband the Lord made it very clear that I was stretching myself too thin and not filling the well within, so to speak.
I lived in a home without priesthood, when I was single, and I have been blessed to live in a home with priesthood. I'll take the second over the first every time. President James E. Faust tell the brethren of the Church:
Brethren, we must never let the great powers of the holy priesthood of God lie dormant in us. We are bound together in the greatest cause and the most sacred work in all the world. To exercise these great powers, we must be clean in thought and action. We must do nothing which would impair the full exercise of this transcendent power.
Priesthood is the greatest power on earth. Worlds were created by and through the priesthood. To safeguard this sacred power, all priesthood holders act under the direction of those who hold the keys of the priesthood. These keys bring order into our lives and into the organization of the Church. For us, priesthood power is the power and authority delegated by God to act in His name for the salvation of His children. Caring for others is the very essence of priesthood responsibility. It is the power to bless, to heal, and to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel. Righteous priesthood authority is most needed within the walls of our own homes. It must be exercised in great love. This is true of all priesthood holders—deacon, teacher, priest, elder, high priest, patriarch, Seventy, and Apostle. (James E. Faust, “Power of the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 1997, 41)