Isn’t it amazing how popular those DNA tests are?!?
They definitely have a place and use, but what about the ‘real’ people in your background?
What are their stories?
How do their experiences and choices affect you?
How can you learn about them?
Consider your parents, your grandparents, even your great-grandparents for a moment.
Do you think their trials they endured, the hardships they went through, the joys that touched and sustained them; the life they lived, could possibly influence your behavior?
This ripple affect of ones choices and actions hadn’t occurred to me until I was in my late teenage years.
I then began to clearly see how absolutely critical it is that we look to the future as we make our significant and important decisions that will affect not only ourselves, but our immediate family, our future family and even our posterity.
It really does matter what choices we make and what goals we strive for.
Later when my kids were a bit older and in school, I made a family history book that included pictures and each persons story in their own writing when possible.
As I researched and went further back on the generations, again with pictures or drawings and stories drawn from writings or letters, my Uncle Bud (Joseph) was indispensable in working with me to go back into the 1600’s in this style of a book.
I learned so much about my immediate family!
Details I never knew.
Such as suffering, troubles and burdens that were overcome. I lean on this often when I face my own ordeals, remembering that others I am related to, have walked difficult paths. I have learned much from their successes and failures, but look to their example and remember we are family.
You might not have the time for a family book such as that, but you can learn a lot about your self by getting to know something about your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents?
WHAT do I need to find out?
- As you learn the names of these family members, you might find that one goes by a different name than their given name.
- You find out the dates of birth years and death years if applicable.
- You will learn the exact locations of where each came from—-meaning where you are really from.
HOW will it change me?
It’s the CULTURE you will discover that really helps you discover WHO you are.
I have a wonderful journal that you can download to print and practice learning more about yourself and those you are related to.
As you take the time to fill this simple journal out, you will be amazed at the person you will become.
HOW will it change you?
- You will discover so much about yourself as you learn about your family!
- It will help you immeasurably as you decide what paths to follow and traits take on and practice.
- And as you learn more about your immediate and extended family, it will guide you as you become the best person you want to emulate.
WHY is it worth my time?
A wonderful article Why We Need Family History Now More Than Ever helps explain What Learning Your Family History Teaches YOU About Yourself says it “can be a powerful antidote against adverse life experiences that we face today” and addresses:
- Knowing our cultural background and Core Identity helps in understanding who we are as a person.
- The importance of Connecting with those in our present, our past and our future; as it fulfills an innate need we all have, as well as forming powerful relationships.
- As we learn about our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents and the trials and struggles they faced, we become more Compassionate towards all people; which is a tremendous talent.
- We can learn to be more Resilient when we learn about the hardships and disappointments they overcame, or succumbed to. Important life lessons can be learned from their successes and failures.
- Our Self Worth becomes more clear as we see God’s hand in our life and that of our family through the recent generations as we learn their stories and understand more how valuable each and every person is in His sight.
THREADS IN A TAPESTRY:
May I suggest that we are linked to our family members, those living, and those who are deceased, much as a thread. As we search through our family generations, we can see how they bring their own unique talents, skills, abilities and knowledge for us to learn from, adding in their threads. Combining threads to make our tapestry exquisite and more valuable as it grows.
As one person, one beautiful thread, we are weak and can easily be unraveled. However when woven together, with our relatives showing their colorful, distinctive and exceptional threads in their own right, our tapestry gains strength and cannot be unraveled. We, our own thread, are now secure, have a place, and continue on as we learn and understand our own special family and their history.
To explain how family history can give a loose thread, a person a place to belong and an understanding of life, my friend, whom I will call ‘L’ is allowing me to share her story:
Why I do family history by ‘L’
I came from a battered and broken family.
My father raised me in a very remote area away from most of civilization. My life was shattered when he died when I was only eleven years old. I never really felt like I fit in after that. I struggled socially and emotionally. I lived with a sister, and later friends, but something was always missing in my life.
One day when I was about fifteen I came across some records my father had kept.
It listed my aunts and uncles and grandparents. They were all deceased, my father had been the youngest, but that tiny bit of information started me looking for my family.
It took years but with each bit of information I became more comfortable with myself and my family as I came to know them.
When life was rough I could immerse myself in my family history.
Through this I came to ‘know’ my grandmother and grandfather. I felt their suffering as I learned about the places they had lived, the work they had done and the deaths that struck the family. The big successes and tragedies were occasionally recorded in newspapers; most of the story is found in the small amount of information recorded on such things as marriage licenses, birth and death certificates, censuses and land deeds. Little things like who lived in the house, was the home rented or owned, what work they did, and where they lived. I put all the little pieces together and a story began to emerge. One that brought me understanding and peace.
Through the years I have grown to love a family I never met and I feel sure that they love me too.
I now know who I am and feel confident about my place in this world.
‘L’ concludes with this profound statement and warning to us all about what we leave, and why we need to search out our living and deceased relatives:
When a person dies a library of knowledge vanishes.
Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2017, 2019
Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.