July 24th is Pioneer Day, when members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) celebrate the arrival of the pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley. It used to be that most members of the Church had pioneer ancestors, but the Church has grown significantly.
My dad used to tell us to learn from the mistakes of others. He warned us that we would make enough mistakes on our own without repeating the mistakes of others. I think I can take that one step further. What if we learned good character traits of others so that we can model our own good behavior after those of others? Over the last couple of days, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned from my heritage—not just my own family, but the generations of the past.
For a number of years my extended family kept in touch via family e-mail. Often someone would say something like, “Do you remember …?” Or someone would tell a story from our childhood and everyone else would jump on with comments. It didn’t take me long to figure out that we were missing out on a great family history opportunity. I told my family that I was going to save some of these e-mails for family history, and they all agreed.
I never talked baby talk to my children. From the moment they were born, I talked to them as if I was speaking to an adult. I didn’t want to get in the habit of treating them as if they couldn’t understand. My experience had been that some adults didn’t give children enough credit for what they were capable of accomplishing. I didn’t want to underestimate my children. I believe that children are capable of so much more than we realize.
I don’t think many people get married while thinking, “If it doesn’t work out, I can get a divorce,” but divorce does happen for many reasons. Similarly, not many people are baptized while thinking, “If it doesn’t work out, I can always leave the Church.” Yet, most of us know people who have walked away from sacred covenants. Both marriage and discipleship require us to be “all in.” Being “all in” is the highest commitment possible.
When I was a little girl, I used to admire hand blown glass figurines in a department store display case. The intricate designs of glass merry-go-rounds, animals, fish, butterflies, and flowers fascinated me. As I grew a bit older and learned how they were made, my curiosity and wonder increased. Through my adult years, I’ve remained a great admirer of glass blowers and their precision work.