It was a regular Fast Sunday. Baby blessings, recognizing children who had just been baptized, testimonies (also known as group therapy for some members, but I digress there).
As the meeting paused following the first baby blessing while Melchizedek priesthood holders from the next family assembled to form the priesthood circle, I looked down and noticed my father’s hands. They are what you might expect for an 83-year old whose life has been marked by a struggle to survive, to provide, to build a family that is bound by love and eternal covenants.
My father’s hands are scarred; his joints are swollen and twisted. His skin and fingernails are wrinkled and discolored. They bear evidence of pain, of overwork, of long hours in the sun and wind, hours crafting wood into pieces of art, years holding shovels and spades, pushing lawnmowers, climbing rocks, pitching tents, wielding paintbrushes, maneuvering pliers and wrenches. They are hands that have moved through the pages of scripture more times than I can count. That have been raised to sustain church leaders and accept assignments. They have delivered punishment and correction. They have comforted me. They are the hands that held me when I was only days old while he gave me a name and pled with the Lord to bless me with all the good things I came into mortality to find.
I don’t cry often, but I could not stop myself as it struck me how my father’s hands have been shaped by his work to shape me into the person I have become, a woman who can stand on her own, bear her own testimony, do her own work, and go forward on her own way with a solid foundation behind her.
In General Conference two Sundays ago, Elder Christofferson bore witness that we believe in fathers. I have to bear my own witness that I too believe in fathers. I was blessed with a father who gave his entire life to that responsibility. We often talk about the role of mothers in shaping their children—and my mother deserves her own recognition for all the sacrifices she has made for us—but we don’t as often give due to our fathers, especially when it comes to how they shape their daughters. I believe in my father, and it is in large part because of him that I also believe in and trust my Heavenly Father. I know not everyone was raised by my father, but I also know that my Heavenly Father loves every one of His children as much as my Dad loves me, even more.