Teaching Family History…

Teaching Family History is one way to get you to “feel” the “Spirit of Elijah.” All these years, I have been related (very closely) to a man that has felt the what we have been taught about the promises of Elijah and how important it is from a Gospel standpoint. I wish that I could say that I embraced it like my father. I did not. The Spirit of Elijah just never touched me the same way that it touched my father. He is the essence of it. He embraced it in every sense of the word (and meaning).

For me, however, it has always been a “nagging.” It has always been the battle between the ever invisible “shoulder angels” and which one will win today, so to speak. It was of course, never the Elijah influencing angel that one. Alas, that angel would sulk off into its corner of the ring and nag about how things should get done, about how I had so much more to do. I was constantly reminded by that quite nagging voice, forever on my shoulder, that I had so much more potential and I should do something. “I only needed to something, a little something.”

I will confess that those nags were easier to ignore some days than others, especially these more recent years. The realization came that family members that I loved and adored were getting up in years. I was faced as an adult to face my bitter reality that we are mortal and my childhood perception of my grandparents somehow never getting older was very quickly getting crushed as I, myself, got older and was watching my children age before my very eyes.

The fact is that we are not immortal “Peter Pans.” We all do age and we all do face a mortal end to this life. The cycle we agreed to in our pre-mortal life will come whether our childhood perception has caught up to reality or not. In the end it does not matter how we come to this “reality check,” it just matters that we eventually got there.

My reality was that I was getting older. My children were getting older. My parents were getting older. My grandparents were certainly getting older. Reality was time had not stopped. Time was moving at the same rate and my mental capacity to accept that had finally caught up to the realization that it was not going to slow down or stop from that point moving forward.

I was going to have to do something.

I would like to say that this made me jump into over-drive and get onto the Family History bandwagon, but still Elijah was not pulling me like he influenced other people. His spirit just did not have that influence on me. It did not touch me or move me. It was just there. Another nagging task that had to be done. Sure I liked researching. Sure I liked knowing about family members. I did not like the methodologies. I did not like the repetitiveness. I did not like so much about it. I did not want to do those things in those ways. It was so boring in my mind.

If you give me a puzzle, I can put it together. If you give me a problem to research, I will research it to death. If you give me something that involves to the two in some way – a research problem that is a puzzle of sorts, I am a happy person. That was what started to entice me. I wanted to “know” the people. I did not care about the names, dates, and places. That was boring. Lists of names, dates, and places bore me to death. I can look at them all day long and not find anything interesting about them. If you start to tell me just a couple of facts about each name, I might start to get a little more interested. Things start to stand out then. These little tid-bits of information become the puzzle pieces you have to put back together. The overall puzzle is the story. We are ultimately piecing back together the stories of our ancestor’s lives.

Still this was not enough to get me started. I was overwhelmed. It was too much. I cannot start when I have too much to process. It is overwhelming and I shut down because it is easier to just not do it. I would think about it sure, and occasionally I would even take a look at a record here and there. Still it was too much to handle at once. I even had strong promptings that I needed to do certain things related to family history to help document certain things. It was just easier to push them off. It is work to do these things. Lots of work.

Then there was the shake up in the callings at church. Special assignment…

Ben and I were both called to be Family History Consultants.

I am not entirely sure what they were thinking when they called us to this calling to be honest with you. We are not expert genealogists. We are not even the examples of how to get things done. Neither one of us are even examples of how to do it at all. Influences of the Spirit of Elijah are not strong at our house. In the almost 16 years of marriage, I have looked at Ben’s family history more than Ben has. There, I said it. He has not felt the urge, the need, or the desire. At least I felt the nagging to do something. It is not to say that I did anything at all, just looked at things. Did a little searching. Maybe played around with some things. I would not call it major breakthroughs or accomplishments.

It was made clear that I am lead Family History Consultant in the ward and Ben is to follow my lead on this. We are teaching a Family History class during 2nd hour at church (Sunday School). I was so scared to even get started. Talk about complete feelings of inadequacy.

I have learned over the past 3 months, however, as with all other things overwhelming – you just have to start. When something overwhelms you, just do it. There is nothing that will make it easier if you never take that first step and get started.

That is what we did…we started. They wanted to do the class in 5 weeks. We started and ultimately we have ended up pushing the class out to 7 weeks instead. It is about right for us and our needs. For the particular class it was right. For the next class, we might be able to go a little faster now that we have some experience under our belt. I have never taught anything like this before. I was going into this almost completely blind – uncharted territory for me.

In the beginning I dreaded each week. Today I was actually looking forward to teaching the class. In the beginning I was afraid to get in front of the class without Ben in the room to back me up. I am not sure what he was going to back me up on, but at least he was going to be there when I completely lost my mind and freaked out. I do have this speaking in public problem after all. Actually, I am grateful that I have spent the past year working on overcoming that as I have had no problems getting in front of the class. There have been a couple of times when I thought the ground was a little closer to me than I thought it should have been, but focusing on the topic and the presentation calmed it all down fairly quickly.

I am grateful that the Lord has spent time preparing me for this. I know he has had his hand in getting me ready for this. I know that when they asked me to speak in church right after I was asked to do this, I knew I would not have been able to do this without some divine intervention. I am normally a major mess when it comes to speaking in church and that day I was fine – no nerves so bad I was about to throw up and tears streaming down my face as soon as I sat back down as a form of instant stress relief. Public speaking for me has always been hard even if I can deliver without problems once I get up, it is the getting up and once it is over that all the stress shows. I am grateful that I have had opportunities the past year and half to grow and expand to work on this. I know this has been preparing me for situations like this.

They say that the Lord qualifies those He calls. I truly believe that. I know that it was Him encouraging me to step outside my comfort zones the past 18 months or so to get into situations that would help me grow into what He needed me to be for this. I know that He was putting situations in front of me that would allow me to seek things that would prepare me to do things that would better prepare me for the things that He needed me to do. He has his own way of putting things on our paths of life to prepare us for those better things. Sometimes we do not always know what those things will be until we get to them, but we often recognize the blessings once we are see them.

The Lord has blessed us hands down for accepting the “special assignment” to serve as family history consultants at church in spite of our lack of being prepared to do so. We might not be the genealogy guru that my father is or the ultimate family history nut that my friend, Devon Lee is (she’s written books on it) but we were the right people for that class right now. We are doing our part to help the people in our little Memorial Springs Ward (congregation) come to enjoy family history in a way that is not nagging or overwhelming. We are helping one class at a time, a few people at a time, a few weeks at a time. The feedback on the class has been positive and it is helpful to know that it is helping others embrace it. That is how I know it is right. In return, I have found a little desire of my own to spend a little time (a few minutes here or there) looking at records. It is not a lot, but it is something. Ben has even spent time indexing records.

One more class this round (next week) and then we start over the week after. I am excited to start over again. It has been a great experience over all.

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