Frankly, I can say with delight that I adore Moses’ scriptural account in Moses chapter 1 verse 39, where we are told that God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Read the verse again slowly and think about what he is saying. There is a lot of power in those eighteen words. I think of the wonderful people I know, the successful, famous, articulate, beautiful individuals. Yes. He is referring to them and every other person you know or can think of and even those you can’t—all of us.
And if helping his children become the people they have the potential to become is his purpose, I suspect that my purpose should focus on achieving that same goal as far as I am able.
I was recently reminded of an experience that occurred many years ago as I was getting ready for the day and preparing my daughter for a Morningside that our stake was holding. A struggle ensued. The evening previous was a late night, early morning, forgotten until 30-minutes prior—do I have to go? You know what I am saying. It all came about so quickly.
After everything had simmered down, I sat in my office chair and reminisced about when I was relatively young father. I reflected on an incident that was like many which happen every day at that time in your life when you have a houseful of young children, a drawer full of bills, and much more to do than you have time.
As I remember the occasion now, my young daughter had left for school on a field trip that was planned with an activity to go watch a volleyball game. She was excited to say the least. But in her haste to get to school, she failed to complete her chores. There were consequences established by the family for this kind of thing to which everyone had agreed. So sometime during the day, I was driving with my small son in our Caravan at the time. I don’t remember the conversation exactly, but I must have been talking about the events of the morning and commented that there would be a price to pay.
I really don’t remember my words now, but I expect I must have said that my daughter’s punishment rhetorically speaking would compensate for my wrath. I don’t remember being all that upset, but my son thought otherwise. Soon he was tentatively standing at my side patting my shoulder with his hand to ensure I was paying him attention. Best as I remember, he said the following in the language of an 8-year-old:
“Dad, when Sally gets home tonight she is going to be so excited for the fun she had today. She will be eager to tell you all about it and happy to share her experience with the rest of us. If you come down hard on her, instead she is going to feel regret for this day, disappointment and possibly harbor anger—and the fun day she experienced will be forgotten. Instead of reveling in her joy, there will be remorse and unhappiness and tears. Is that what you want?
You won’t even remember later that this happened <whatever it was>. Don’t you think it would be better to share in her joy? I think so. I love you dad.”
When I remembered that incident this morning, I decided that I have many more options at my disposal to make this a win for all involved. The anger, regret, tears, and hard feelings aren’t worth the cost. I can react differently to inspire, lift, and build. That will help my family, my daughter, and my home. I am thinking of a pertinent scripture Psalms 8:2 and a quote from people far more intelligent than me. I would do well to follow their counsel and examples.
Not very many people get the chance to leave home and with family exit their station in life to embark on a journey in the wilderness, like Lehi and Sariah did with their family. But because they were faithful, we are able to see and learn from the record they left. Though it is out of the ordinary in our day to say the least, I believe we have a lot more in common with Nephi and his situation than first expected. Tents and wilderness may not be in your repertoire of activities, but I am certain you have experienced a time when you were uncomfortable in your situation, felt out-of-place or perhaps over-your-head. Following their example when they were thrust into a situation where they felt similar emotions could prove valuable and timely.
Such is true for personal histories written to our family and posterities. Seemingly simple things that are inconsequential now will have tremendous value to loved ones that follow, because they are sure to experience similar situations in their lives. That’s reason enough to write a personal history, but from my experience, that is not the only way to receive satisfaction from your efforts of documenting a personal history. Certainly among the most exhilarating feelings is to see the gospel come to life in lives of your children.
We all have time when we wonder if family home evenings that end up in a battle are worth the cost or mornings when family prayer seems definitely more like a duty than a blessing. And when challenges express themselves in rebellious children, financial difficulties, or other hardships, we can tend to feel discouraged or hopeless or at least ineffective. But times like these are the perfect occasions to defer to our Father in Heaven. He has established numerous resources for our edification.
One of those resources is a family history. Each of us benefits from all of those who have gone before. Learning their stories helps us really understand who we are and where we came from. It enables us to see what our potential could possibly be and helps us through challenging times.
Elder Bednar said “I don’t know of a greater blessing than ultimately realizing that God trusts us and depends on us to do his work. It’s a remarkable spiritual experience when you do the work for you own ancestors and you take your names to the temple to perform the ordinance work.
“It’s not just indexing and researching names. These are real people. This is the work of salvation…that’s who we are.”
Elder Bednar continues “With the technology capability that you young people have, you were prepared for this day.”
So what are the youth saying about participating in family history work? Here are a few comments:
“It’s just the greatest gift to be with you family forever.”
“My first thought of it was ‘I am going to work for my ancestors as they did for me?'”
“It teaches you who you are and what your potential is.”
“With a young man like you I will rarely ever ask are you preparing to go on a mission.” Elder Bednar encourages “I will ask the question “Are you worthy to be in the temple and will you be next year and will you be the year after that? Are you doing the research in your own family and helping other people with their research?
“That for a young person in the wickedness of the world in which we live in today is one of the greatest safeguards against the temptations of the adversary…the time is now.”
We can all benefit and learn from the examples of our ancestors.
Future posts will focus on a few of the life stories of people significant in my personal history and family life today.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.