A life that is not documented is a life that within a generation or two will largely be lost to memory. What a tragedy this can be in the history of a family. Knowledge of our ancestors shapes us and instills within us values that give direction and meaning to our lives. Some years ago, I met the director of a Russian Orthodox monastery. He showed me volumes of his own extensive family research. He told me that one of the values, perhaps even the main value, of genealogy is the establishment of family tradition and the passing of these traditions on to younger generations. “Knowledge of these traditions and family history,” he said, “welds generations together.” Further, he told me: “If one knows he comes from honest ancestors, he is duty and honor bound to be honest. One cannot be dishonest without letting each member of his family down.”1
The Strength to Endure
BY ELDER RICHARD J. MAYNES
Great examples of spiritual stamina come from our own family histories. Among the many stories from our ancestors, we will be able to find examples that demonstrate the positive characteristics of endurance.
A story from my own family history illustrates this principle. My great-grandfather Joseph Watson Maynes was born in 1856 in Hull, Yorkshire, England. His family joined the Church in England and then made their way to Salt Lake City. He married Emily Keep in 1883, and they became the parents of eight children. Joseph was called to serve a full-time mission in June of 1910, when he was 53 years old. With the support of his wife and eight children, he returned to his native England to serve his mission.
After serving faithfully for approximately two years, he was riding his bicycle along with his companion to Sunday School services in Gloucester, England, when his tire burst. He got off his bicycle to assess the damage. When he saw that it was serious and would take a while to fix, he told his companion to go ahead and begin the Sunday service and he would be there shortly. Just as he finished saying this, he collapsed to the ground. He had died suddenly of a heart attack.
Joseph Watson Maynes never saw his wife and eight children again in this life. They were able to transport his body back to Salt Lake City and have his funeral service at the old Waterloo Assembly Hall. A statement made at his funeral service by Elder Anthony W. Ivins of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles teaches us an important lesson about life, death, and endurance: “This is what the gospel gives us—not immunity from death, but victory over it through the hope we have in a glorious resurrection. … It applies to [Joseph Maynes]. … It is a pleasure, and it is a satisfaction and joy to know that men lay down their lives in righteousness, in the faith, true to the faith.”4
This family story inspires me to try my very best to follow the example of endurance and spiritual stamina illustrated by my great-grandfather. I am equally inspired by the faith of his wife, Emily, whose life after Joseph’s death was certainly a heavy burden to bear. Her testimony was strong and her conversion complete as she spent the rest of her life true to the faith while supporting her eight children on her own.
Want Emotionally Healthy Children? Tell Family Stories
By David Edwards,
May 30, 2013
Have you ever told your children about where their grandparents grew up or what schools you went to?
If so, then your children may be better equipped to face life’s challenges, according to research conducted by psychologists Robyn Fivush, Jennifer G. Bohanek, and Marshall Duke of Emory University.
The researchers found a strong relationship between children’s knowledge of family history and various measures of emotional well-being. Children who knew more of their family history had more functional family lives, more self-control, greater feelings of self-worth, and fewer signs of depression or anxiety.
“The [children] who knew more about their families proved to be more resilient, meaning they could moderate the effects of stress,” Dr. Duke told the New York Times.
According to the study, cross-generational family storiesplay an important role in children’s self-definition. When children see themselves as part of a larger family narrative, they feel more secure and more confident. They have a stronger sense of self. As a result, they have a greater ability to overcome challenges, as well as greater emotional resilience in the face of life’s ups and downs.
The researchers are quick to point out, however, that simply knowing family stories is not really the most important factor in this area of children’s development. What gives these stories their power is the means by which they are conveyed—frequent, meaningful parent-child interaction or, in short, family time. And the dinner table still seems to loom large as a place for passing along family lore.
“But charity is the pure loveof Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God.” (Moro. 7:47–48.)
Our Heavenly Father wants us to fill ourselves with this love—this love which is without condition. Filled with this love, we are prepared to receive the admonition to take upon ourselves the cross of our daily lives and in humility learn to follow in his footsteps, according to the Savior’s words found in Matthew, chapter 10:
“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matt. 10:38–39.)
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt lovethy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matt. 5:43–44.)
This love that Christ is teaching us is not the same as the world’s love. It does not mean just to love the one who is nice, who behaves well and is respected, powerful, and influential. Our Heavenly Father, through his prophets in these latter days, calls us to develop the love of God as a power from above that cannot be threatened through outward circumstances. This love of God, according to the prophet Nephi of theBook of Mormon, has to be achieved and is “the most desirable above all things.” (1 Ne. 11:22.)