“It’s not my season for family history.”
I have spent more than a year pondering this statement. It really is a beautiful concept that we live our lives in “seasons”. Ecclesiastes 3:1 reads, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”.
Would it be too bold to say, this statement is also a tool used by the adversary? I think that it can be, especially when used in the context of family history.
Allow me a moment to explain, starting with a story of my own.
Approximately 6 years ago, I found myself in what felt like a never-ending trial. I was suffering from anxiety and overwhelm. I had 3 very young children, ages 4 & under. I had been working from home, trying desperately to care for my children and provide needed income while my husband also worked and attended school. After experiencing an emotional breaking point, I told my husband that I just couldn’t do it anymore, I was absolutely exhausted. He wisely asked if he could offer me a priesthood blessing. I accepted his offer and distinctly remember the feeling of relief that I promptly gave myself BEFORE the blessing had even begun. I told myself that Heavenly Father was going to be merciful to me and that he would tell me that I needed to let go of some things, that I needed to simplify my life. I KNEW that it was the only way I could make it through.
I was given the blessing and I will never forget the shock I felt. I was told that my Heavenly Father was aware and mindful of my struggles and that he was very pleased with my efforts, but that I needed to do MORE. He mentioned many specifics, but the key… I WAS CAPABLE of doing more. My struggle was in fact, my self-defeating attitude and lack of belief in my own abilities. This was a turning point in my life. The idea that Heavenly Father had more faith in me than I had in myself gave me new energy. It gave me the courage to dig a little deeper and do a little more.
I don’t share my story to tell you that you need to do more. I tell you the story because a new perspective can make all the difference. I needed a new perspective to face the trials that I was facing.
The terms “family history” or “genealogy” come with a lot of stereotypes and preconceived ideas. It can literally carry weight. Owning a Family History business and particularly, inside a shopping mall has exposed me to the many diverse feelings toward family history. Feelings range from thrill and excitement, to guilt and frustration, to annoyance, even painfulness and hurt. Sitting at my hidden work desk has allowed me to experience a unique “fly on the wall” observation of real feelings toward family history. I also have the opportunity to talk to hundreds of people about family history every month.
The truth is, family history usually carries some level of guilt for most Latter Day Saints. This is the precise moment that Satan enters the picture. I want to illustrate my point with an example of a typical conversation that I hear…
A young mom might say, “Wow, these trees are amazing!” Then her voice will change to a much less excited tone, “I would love to make one, but I don’t have a clue what I am doing. Every time I login to FamilySearch I just feel like I am going to mess something up. I really should ask my family history person in my ward for help…” Her mother or friend will quickly notice the young mother’s discouraged feelings and guilt. Trying to be kind and lighten the situation, they will quickly chime in, “Oh honey, you have three little ones and way too much on your plate! There is a time and a season for family history. You need to focus on other things.”
The truth. These conversations hurt me to the core, mainly because I’ve been there. I know what it is like to be that young mother, I can FEEL her guilt, the desire to do something good, but you suppress the thought because it’s just too overwhelming. Knowing what I know now, I can clearly see the missed opportunity. The opportunity for blessings this young mother might desperately need, blessings that don’t come from sitting on the sidelines and waiting for the right season.
Satan wants us to believe that Family History is meant for some distant time and season, but the truth is, you most likely ARE doing some family history already! The best place to start with your family history journey is to give yourself credit for what you are doing! In order to do a little more, you just may need a new perspective.
Let me analyze this phrase just a little more, “It’s not my season for family history.”
Is it your season for attending the temple? Is it your season for reading family stories? Is it your season for taking photographs? Is it your season for keeping a journal? Is it your season for added blessings and protection for your family?
Do you get where I am going with this? Family History is NOT just searching for birth certificates and census records. Family history is not just grave hunting and indexing. While those parts of Family History are of vital importance to the work, family history goes much deeper than that, it is eternal. I cannot think of a soul on this earth that couldn’t use a little help from the other side of the veil and the blessings that are promised from participating in family history work.
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the quorum of the twelve apostles said, “As Church members, we do have a divinely appointed responsibility to seek out our ancestors and compile family histories. This is far more than an encouraged hobby, because the ordinances of salvation are necessary for all of God’s children……as we participate in family history and temple work today, we also lay claim to “healing” blessings promised by prophets and apostles. These blessings are also breathtakingly amazing because of their scope, specificity, and consequence in mortality. This long list includes these blessings:
- Increased understanding of the Savior and His atoning sacrifice;
- Increased influence of the Holy Ghost to feel strength and direction for our own lives;
- Increased faith, so that conversion to the Savior becomes deep and abiding;
- Increased ability and motivation to learn and repent because of an understanding of who we are, where we come from, and a clearer vision of where we are going;
- Increased refining, sanctifying, and moderating influences in our hearts;
- Increased joy through an increased ability to feel the love of the Lord;
- Increased family blessings, no matter our current, past, or future family situation or how imperfect our family tree may be;
- Increased love and appreciation for ancestors and living relatives, so we no longer feel alone;
- Increased power to discern that which needs healing and thus, with the Lord’s help, serve others;
- Increased protection from temptations and the intensifying influence of the adversary; and
- Increased assistance to mend troubled, broken, or anxious hearts and make the wounded whole.
If you have prayed for any of these blessings, participate in family history and temple work. As you do so, your prayers will be answered.”
Here at Season for Family, our goal is not to tear you down, overwhelm you, or tell you that you aren’t doing enough. Our goal is to inspire and uplift. We are Women, Mothers, Wives, Bosses, Employees, Friends, just trying to get through this crazy life, we understand the overwhelm! Let’s shed the guilt, let’s give ourselves credit for what we already do and encourage each other to do just a little more in practical and realistic ways. Rather than saying “it’s not my season for family history”, let’s says “it’s my season for journaling”, or “it’s my season for getting to know my ancestors”. It is NOT going to be your season for every part of family history, but YOU are needed in this work and the blessings that come are worth every effort.
We can be inspired all day long about temple and family history experiences others have had. But we must do something to actually experience the joy ourselves.President Russell M. Nelson