Sunday, February 6, 2011
Why I Search for My Ancestors: "Be a blessing to your family."
Early February is the anniversary of when I began an earnest search for my ancestors. It was just over five years ago that, with my daughters both grown and generally independent, I wondered what I should do with my time. Was there something in particular the Lord had in mind? I’d devoted much of my time to being a wife and mother along with small and irregular part-time jobs and some church responsibilities. Should I get a full-time job? Get involved with additional volunteer activities? Make more quilts? What?
After prayer, the answer came: “Be a blessing to your family.” That was a surprise because I always assumed I was (even though I had never carefully considered whether I was). I served my family by caring for and supporting my husband and daughters; kept a home where meals were prepared, laundry was done, the house was clean, etc. (sometimes with their help); and I taught my daughters right and wrong, how to make choices, and how to become responsible adults. But if being a blessing was what I was to do, I decided to be more careful about being a wife and mother. Careful as I was, it seemed like I was missing, or misunderstanding, something. It seemed there was something else or something more I was supposed to be doing. I just wasn’t sure what.
I continued to ponder and pray and consider what I could do to be a blessing to my family and an answer came: “Find your ancestors!” And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
Seeking my ancestors is both a blessing for them and a blessing to me. My perspective and understanding of them, their lives, and the times in which they lived has broadened and deepened. I know I’ll never fully understand the circumstances and times of their lives nor some of their decisions, yet I’ve grown to love them as I learn about them. I’m grateful for the opportunity to search for -- and especially to find -- my foremothers, forefathers, and their families so that the memory of their lives can be preserved through my memories and the memories I share of what I’ve found.
In many ways it seems like I’ve made good progress, especially because I’ve been searching for my direct line ancestors as well as for the siblings of my ancestors. On the other hand, when I consider how many of my ancestors I haven’t found, it seems like my progress is slow and barely successful.
I’ll keep going with what I’ve set out to do until I receive inspiration to change directions.