What is the right way to write one’s life?
What is the proper way to remember another person’s life?
With what filters do we present our lives and those of whom we’ve shared; to our descendants?
Is it proper to filter out the times when children of God entertained demons of pride, vanity, ambition, depression, doubt & fear; resulting in addictions and abuse?
Is it proper to “white wash” a personal history?
Does it negate or minimize the triumphs of the abused and oppressed??
How do we maintain an Eternal Perspective when writing our personal and family histories?
I began pondering these questions and more in regards to writing family histories a while ago. When Family Search implemented their “stories & Life Sketch” portion of Family Tree; it was a topic that rarely left my conscious thinking.
As I have alluded to in previous blog posts, I am a survivor of early childhood abuse. I contemplate if there is a purpose, now that I am working on forgiving my abusers, to remember the abuse I sustained at their hands.
When started the process of forgiveness, I began remembering the happy times. Christ says that when He forgives us, He will not remember our sins. Then He states that we are commanded to forgive our brother.
Is continuing the legacy of abuse, through documentation and stories, true forgiveness?
Then there are those stories that made it into documentation anyway. The newspaper articles that pieced the horrors of PTSD together after my hero-grandfather’s WWII service brought up painful emotional scars for my aunt, but yet helped me to understand the method and timing of his death.
Either way, I don’t believe you can write a history about someone without trying to emulate the forgiveness of Christ. To attempt to understand that your ancestor or whomever you are writing about, is a Child of God, first and foremost, with challenges like all of us.
I was reading a blog yesterday, and I remembered my own fairly recent decisions to document my own happier times through journaling. The failed attempts at journaling from my youth and young adulthood had been filled with lamenting and usually anger at my now ex-husband. All that they seem to hold were negative entries. Including times when I struggled with the deepest of depressions.
That was something I realized I did not want to leave to my descendants. I tried to begin looking at my life from the perspective of my grandchildren. I used this when I needed to find the grace to handle ex-drama right before my Baptism.
This change in perspective came with a change in habits as well. Over the past few years I began taking paper (usually a composition book) and a pen with me wherever I go.
During the first years of my conversion, in these past few years before I came to The Church, there was God. My Savior, Jesus Christ and The Holy Ghost whom I called upon in my prayers frequently. Through my journaling, I learned to talk to Him, through Them.
I learned to become quiet. I learned to listen and ponder. Then, I would write my observations.
When I found the Gospel and began taking lessons from the
Missionaries; I reveled in my alone time. Time to ponder, study The Scriptures, pray and write.
I continued to write. I wrote during Sacrament Meeting and in Relief Society. I wrote at the dog park and at stop lights. More than once, I pulled over the car to write down something that caused a smile to cross my face.
I often look back at those journals. Journals I keep, finding it necessary to eventually label and organize them. Easily referred back to by date and circumstance (pre-baptism/post).
Many of them have post-it flags still denoting poetry and prose yet to transcribe, expound upon and share.
Heavenly Father, through the The Holy Ghost, has a way of guiding me to revisit my own journal entries at times. More often than not, it is to remind me of a scripture verse or General Conference talk that impressed something upon me and it has come time for me to read that advice.
As I look towards the task of writing life sketches for those of my ancestors, I also acknowledge the challenge of writing my own. To condense many lives into a quick and appropriate “Life Sketch.” What do I want my grandchildren’s grandchildren to know about me?
This is the question I ask myself constantly.
I know the obstacles I have overcome, I know the lessons I’ve learned; I seek my Lord’s guidance in filtering what generations to come do not need to know, or repeat.