Your family history starts NOW.
If you’re me, and you typed (or read) something like that and then thought, “No, history is forever ago. It’s already happened,” well. You’re not wrong. When we think of family history, we generally think of our grandmothers, or great grandmothers, or great-great-great grandmothers who crossed the plains and churned their own butter and sewed their own dresses. But I think we can look at family history from a different point of view. Instead of thinking broadly, I propose we think of the people living around us. What is their history? What is your history? When you study the scriptures, what thoughts do you have? How will those thoughts change or help you in a year? Family history starts now.
When I was growing up, my mother was a very big part of the 90s scrapbook revolution. She knew every trend, taught all the classes, was in loads of magazines, and took SO many pictures. I didn’t even realize that “not being in a picture” was an option. She made page after page, commemorating trips, accomplishments, and just every day moments. She wasn’t documenting history, she was just documenting now.
Flash forward 10 (cough, twenty, cough) years, and now? Those pages are our history. My sisters and I can still spend an hour or two looking over those books that we’ve looked at a thousand times, laugh at jokes we’ve made before, and remember things that didn’t seem significant at the time, but are. Suddenly we’re grateful for all the times mom made us stop and take a picture. Those moments we spend looking at those books are special and sacred to us.
Elder John H. Groberg said, “In a very real sense, our properly written histories are a very important part of our family scripture and become a great source of spiritual strength to us and to our posterity.”
Family scripture. Have you ever thought of your journals or notes that you make about your history as scripture? We know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are simple records of people and families doing their best to follow the commandments and succeeding and failing and learning. Doesn’t that sound like our lives? The definition of scripture is “sacred writing,” and when we are moved by the Holy Ghost to write a thought, isn’t that sacred?
Recording our histories can feel like a chore or even unnecessary, especially when nothing “important” has happened that day. When we study the scriptures, we might not have any visions or astounding impressions. But what doesn’t seem astounding or important today will prove to be significant and a blessing tomorrow. You will see how the Lord has shaped your thoughts to prepare you for what was to come. You are writing the record of your people, as you go through trials, make mistakes, and see so many blessings come from your diligence, just like Nephi and Mormon.
My friend and I are the owners of Line Upon Line, creators of the wide-margin, Journaling Edition of the Book of Mormon, and one of the things I am most excited for is reading my own notes in my Book of Mormon a year from now, or two years. I’m excited to let my daughters read my notes and thoughts as I studied Lehi’s family or read over the wars in Alma or learned from Christ’s visit to the Americas. I know that even if what I write isn’t the most profound thing, it will be a blessing to them when they’re older. My thoughts on scripture can help my children get to know me and help me get to know myself. Knowing they’ll read it helps me write for them in their day, just like the prophets in the Book of Mormon wrote for us in ours. Heavenly Father speaks to us through revelation, for yourself and your family, and the more we write down and act upon that revelation, the more He will send.
My company has also created a Primary Edition of the Book of Mormon, the text of the Book of Mormon, designed with kids in mind. It has coloring pages, testimony pages, wider margins—so much space for your little one to write down and color their thoughts on the gospel while you’re reading together. If that isn’t sacred, something you’ll keep forever and turn to over and over, I don’t know what is.
Our hope for the Primary Edition of the Book of Mormon is to teach our children to interact with their scriptures and take ownership of their own spiritual grown, and we’ve seen that. As we’ve watched our own children study the scriptures, we’ve seen them learn to write down what they’re thinking, and in doing so, examine their thoughts on the stories and lessons in its pages. They are building lifelong habits that will hopefully give them a bank of family history and scripture to learn from and use to teach their own children.
We hope we are teaching our children that family history starts now and they don’t need to wait to begin recording their own spiritual journey. What they write or draw today can help them grow tomorrow. And similarly, what we write today can become what we need to hear tomorrow. Heaven is waiting to pour out words of comfort, of knowledge, understanding, peace, and by writing them down, we are showing we are diligent and willing to do the work it takes to record and build that family history.
Family history starts now. It might not be officially history when you started writing it, but it will be in a year or ten or twenty. We all know this, but regret is the worst. Almost every adult was given piano lessons when they were seven, and almost every adult wishes they didn’t quit when they were eight. Don’t quit on recording your family history. Don’t quit on reading your scriptures and recording your impressions. Learn to write your history now and you we be so grateful to yourself a year from now.
I know that family history is important and that if we pray for even the desire to begin to record our histories, we will be blessed, and our prayers will be answered!