Family history is at times associated with tedious work and flat stories. It requires lots of research and dedication. Is it worth it?
The answer is yes. Studying your family history is worth it for many reasons. There are lessons to learn, heritage to be realized, health associations, and salvation to be earned.
If your family history is hard to find, for reasons such as adoption or lack of documents, you may find it interesting to study the family history of those close to you, or people who strike your interest. Family history can affect all of us, because we are all connected. Here are just a few reasons why family history matters.
Family history teaches.
In school, you are taught history almost every year. You are told the importance of knowing the past, so as to not make the same mistakes in the future. The past teaches you what good can come from hard work. The same is true for your own family history. In fact, your family is a part of history. You may find that your ancestors were part of a great historic event, or that they themselves had a very rich personal history. If you feel that you are not finding anything of interest, look a little harder. Newspaper archives are a great place to search, on top of the generic family history websites. There are plenty of lessons to learn, if only you look hard enough to find them. Your ancestors most likely experienced some turbulent times that taught them lessons. Now you can learn from those lessons too.
Curiosity can be satisfied.
Living as if your ancestors never existed is an interesting way to live. You are here because of them. Are you not curious as to where you came from? Do you not wonder who you great grandmother really was? Life was different back then, so you are prone to find stories of interest, even if the interest only stems from how different their way of life was. Get a little curious and do some digging.
You can learn who you really are. James E. Faust said, “Begin to unlock the knowledge of who you really are by learning more about your forebears.”
You have a heritage to gain.
Family history can reveal your family in deeper ways. You can learn who they were, what they did, and what their names were. If your family has a trend of being loud and rambunctious, you may find out that even your ancestors were loud as well. Your family has a past and a culture that stems back longer than you may imagine. It may be fun to find out what traditions your ancestors passed on to you, or even what character traits you have, that they also held.
Dennis B. Neuenschwander said, “Genealogies, family stories, historical accounts, and traditions … form a bridge between past and future and bind generations together in ways that no other keepsake can.”
There are health benefits.
Studying family history can satisfy curiosity and teach, but it can also provide some important health knowledge. Genetics can carry certain health problems that may be found in each generation. You “can inherit diseases, or a greater likelihood of getting a disease, from either parent.” Knowing your family’s heart history, for example, may teach you that a specific heart condition is common in your family. When you go to the doctor, you can mention this and possibly help to prevent your own heart condition. Studying your personal history and finding diseases could be an important pathway to benefiting your own health.
Salvation and blessings will be brought forth.
When you find new ancestors’ names, you can bring these names to the temple and perform ordinances for them. Eldred G. Smith said, “Get those records into the temples. Many may be waiting on the other side for that work to be done.” In the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith said, “For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.” Obviously, this temple work is important to both us, and ‘our dead’.
It is a tremendous, yet wonderful responsibility, because we have God on our side as we seek out our family history and go to the temple.
As we do this, a promise is given by apostles such as Elder Neil L. Andersen: “You will feel the beautiful link that binds us together as families through the generations. You will feel a happiness for those who accept your sacred offering. Your hearts will truly be turned to your fathers, and you will feel their hearts turned toward you. You will feel purpose and strength that will help you to avoid the temptations that surround you.”
What a blessing. Let’s get started!
Lauren is studying Journalism at Brigham Young University and considers the East Coast home. She has a passion for writing, photography, skiing, hiking, and traveling. She enjoys studying German and is married to her best friend.