Last Sunday, I was asked to prepare a talk on family history. It basically turned into 100% me losing it and crying my eyes out in front of everyone. However, I thought it would be fun to share a piece of myself with everyone.
(audio recording available here, if you’d rather listen than read)
Oftentimes, we each have moments of loneliness. We think we are completely and utterly alone in our trials, and we feel we have hit a dead end. I testify that we are NOT alone, nor will we ever be. Though we may not physically have the guidance and help we need, not only do we have the gift of the Holy Ghost and the Atonement, we are constantly surrounded by angels- those who are completely on our side, and fighting for us. It is a common feeling that family history is something that we do for our ancestors. Let me share my personal experience.
At the age of twelve, my already piqued interest in family history became my life line. I had always begged for stories of ancestors, and cherished the idea that I came from something and that I was going somewhere. My personal family life was far from perfect, and I fantasized day in and day out of the perfect family that would love me. I did not want to ask my family about our history, so I found myself using indexing as an escape from my pain. I figured that if I could not save my own family, I could help others save theirs. My love of indexing grew so much, and it helped me get through some really tough spots. The more that I dedicated my time to indexing, the stronger I felt. My relationship with Heavenly Father became more perfected than ever before.
After a few years, I decided it was time to save my family. It was a bit difficult, because my mother’s side was overwhelmingly completed, and my father’s side was completely empty. I felt so underqualified to even attempt this. I was emotionally distraught, and nervous about getting in contact with my father, whom I had never before met. I also had never spoken to anyone on that side of my family. Where was I supposed to begin?
Prayer played a huge part in this process. I knew I had been called and prepared to do this, and I knew that even though my own life was more than I could bear, I couldn’t let them down. If I couldn’t win this fight for me, I had to for them.
On February 11th of 2015, I left home at 17 to fight for my ancestors. Once I was freed from the trials I had been facing, I slept, ate and dreamed family history. I woke up before school and worked on it. I brought my laptop to school and worked on it. I fell asleep with my laptop on my bed, working on it. I felt so desperate to complete as much as I could, as fast as I could. I had the freedom I had been seeking my whole life, the peace and direction I knew was possible. And I was ready to have a family of my own. The more names I completed, amateurly as I did, not knowing the proper process and just doing what I could, the more I felt I needed to do. In the summer of that year, I was able to perform the ordinances of many of my ancestors on my own. It was by far one of the most precious moments of my life. My army was growing bigger and stronger. I felt like I was part of the kingdom. I felt like I truly belonged in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and that the temple was for me, but it wasn’t just for me. It was for my family, it was for the generations who had passed before me, and the generations who would pass after me. It was for all of those who had ever felt the loneliness, or hopelessness, and the sadness that I had endured. It was to bring comfort to the comfortless, and hope to the hopeless.
Brothers and sisters, it is my testimony to you that family is a saving ordinance. It wasn’t designed to just save the dead. It was designed to save both the dead and the living. I know that sometimes it can feel insurmountably impossible; such an inconvenience and a waste of time that we simply don’t have. I testify that that view is not of God, and it is wrong. I testify that if we will do the work for our ancestors, they will be our armies. They will fight for us from the other side. They will provide us with the strength we need. We are not designed to go through this life on our own. I know that our ancestors are our companions. I know that they love us. And I know that they have prepared the way specifically for us. The gospel is one eternal round. You cannot have one without the other. May our hearts be truly turned to the fathers. May we have the spirit of our Heavenly Father guiding us in our quest. I am grateful that I have been able to have this opportunity. I am grateful that my testimony has been so strengthened. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.