Do your loved ones ever question your passion for genealogy and family history? Would you like a new perspective to motivate the youth in your ward to give it a try? Maybe you just need a boost in your own family history efforts? Try taking a few minutes to think of the blessings raining down on you because of your family history labors. Recognizing those blessings will help you share your love of family history with anyone.
I recently asked Leah, one of my youth family history consultants, if she’d noticed any blessings since doing family history. Why would I ask this? As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we’ve heard promised blessings of doing family history from our prophets and apostles for many years. In fact, the doctrine of family history has been taught in the LDS church for over a hundred years and we as members are under covenant to perform this work. For more information, see the article “Why do Mormons do family history or genealogy work?”
I was curious to see if Leah bought into the idea of being blessed for our family history efforts. She answered by telling me about a three minute video titled “Shower of Heavenly Blessings” that shows a young woman dancing in the rain, the rain representing blessings from heaven. The video puts animation to portions of a talk given by President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Part of our challenge is, I think, that we imagine that God has all of His blessings locked in a huge cloud up in heaven, refusing to give them to us unless we comply with some strict, paternalistic requirements He has set up. But the commandments aren’t like that at all. In reality, Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon us. It is our fear, doubt, and sin that, like an umbrella, block these blessings from reaching us.
His commandments are the loving instructions and the divine help for us to close the umbrella so we can receive the shower of heavenly blessings. (“Living the Gospel Joyful” by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2014)
Leah likes to think of doing family history as a way that we can toss aside our umbrellas and let the blessings of happiness, peace, and eternal life rain down on us.
What umbrellas do we put up as barriers against receiving blessings from doing family history? Through the years I’ve heard several: “I don’t have enough time,” “It’s too hard,” “the computer and I don’t get along,” “I’ll do that when I’m older.”
As family history enthusiasts, others might wonder why we choose to spend so much of our time in the pursuit of our ancestors. Maybe we need to start telling naysayers that we’re just “dancing in the rain” and invite them to dance with us.
I often start my Sunday classes with the question, “what family history experiences have you had this week?” Then I like to discuss how even the smallest successes can be miracles. I also like to ask, “what tender mercies or blessings have you received this week?”
Could it be that if we start recognizing the miracles and blessings we are receiving we might feel more happiness and peace? Do we really believe that a loving Heavenly Father cares enough for all of his children that he will help us find our ancestors so we can perform saving ordinances for them in temples?
I can only speak for myself, so here are two of the many blessings I’ve experienced.
Blessed in All of our Affairs
“The Lord will bless us as we attend to the sacred ordinance work of the temples. Blessings there will not be limited to our temple service. We will be blessed in all of our affairs. We will be eligible to have the Lord take an interest in our affairs both spiritual and temporal. … Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people” (Elder Boyd K Packer, The Holy Temple , 182, 265).
Because of my faith, I believe that family history and temple work go hand in hand. When I first started researching my family in 2003, I still had five children at home, ages 7 – 18. They attended three different schools, participated in sports, music, and church activities. In short, I could easily have said life was too busy. But I decided I could research for one hour a day. How did that work for me? Amazing! I accomplished more in that hour than I could have imagined, plus I was able to still take care of all of my other responsibilities. Thirteen years later with the children all grown, I can now devote much more time to my family history efforts, and I continue to see the blessings both spiritual and temporal in all the affairs of my life.
Feeling Deep Love for Family
When we research our own lines we become interested in more than just names or the number of names going through the temple. Our interest turns our hearts to our fathers—we seek to find them and to know them and to serve them. In doing so we store up treasures in heaven.” (Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Your Family History: Getting Started,” Ensign, Aug. 2003, 17).
I have developed a deep appreciation and love for my ancestors as I’ve learned about their lives. I literally wept at my computer upon finding the missing children of my great great grandparents Phebe Lloyd and Enoch Brockhouse. Learning that the majority of their children did not live to adulthood filled me with feelings of sadness and compassion. Being able to perform sealings in the temple that united this family gave me great joy. My heart has been turned to my ancestors in a way I could not have imagined. Coming to know and love them through my research has added a great richness to my life.
As I’m teaching others about family history, I talk a lot about the blessings of numerous records online and the tools we have to make research accessible to everyone. Those temporal blessings are easy to see, but it takes greater effort to recognize other blessings that come to us from our family history work. Maybe it’s time to ponder and give thanks for the blessings raining down all of us!
Best of luck in your family history endeavors!