We talk a lot about family history in the Church. We are told to find our ancestors and do their temple work, and it is surely an important task. But something in me has wanted more than just knowing my ancestors’ names and where they were from.
I guess this is why we are counseled to keep journals. Without our keeping a record of our lives or writing our own life story, what will our future generations know about who we were? Certain stories might be passed down from one generation to another, but it won’t be up to us which ones make the cut.
Medical family history
When I was going through my search for a diagnosis for my health issues (which turned out to be endometriosis), I wished that my family members had kept a medical family history. So many physical and mental health conditions are hereditary; it would make things so much simpler if we knew if our ancestors struggled with similar symptoms or if they had diagnosed conditions. It would narrow down and make diagnoses that much simpler.
“Lest Thou Forget”
In the most recent General Conference, Elder Ronald A. Rasband spoke about writing things down and keeping records. His talk, entitled, “Lest Thou Forget,” exhorted us to remember what has happened to us in the past so that we can move forward in a positive direction in the future.
Of course, Elder Rasband focuses on the spiritual implications of keeping records and remembering past experiences. He said,
“Generations are affected by the choices we make. Share your testimony with your family; encourage them to remember how they felt when they recognized the Spirit in their lives and to record those feelings in journals and personal histories so that their words may, when needed, bring to their remembrance how good the Lord has been to them. You will recall that Nephi and his brothers returned to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates that contained the recorded history of their people, in part so that they would not forget their past.”
Our histories are not filled completely with pleasant and happy times. Even our difficult experiences need to be remembered, and it might be those times that will be of most use to those who come after us. Our struggles with our mental health could one day provide hope and guidance for our own descendants– if we record what we go through. Without recording our past, we will most certainly begin to forget.
Around the time that my contamination OCD became debilitating, I stopped writing in my journal. I didn’t want to record the way I was feeling. I didn’t want to remember what was going through my mind. On the other hand, I wrote excessively in my journal when my OCD first became bad about a decade ago. Though reading those entries is not always pleasant, I am grateful that I have that record to look back upon. I wish now that I had written down my experiences of last December, but it’s too late to remember exactly how I felt.
I hope that we can each have the courage to write and record our own histories so that our descendants will have our family, emotional, medical, and spiritual history. We never know who will be helped by it, so many years in the future.