That Light May Shine Upon Them
As you should all know by now, I'm a Mormon, and as a Mormon, I have been taught to do family history research.* For an embarrassingly long time, I didn't understand the point of such research, but now I do, and I want to share it with you.
Family history research leads us to know more about our ancestors, obviously, but also, it allows us to perform religious ordinances for them. If you're not a Mormon, this part of family history doesn't matter to you, but here's why it matters to me:
- It gives everyone the chance to accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ, even after they have died. As someone who believes in the truthfulness of the gospel from a Latter-day Saint perspective, this is extremely important to me.
- If this way is true -- if people do have to be baptized in order to be exalted -- then I want to be a part of that. Speaking of family history, Joseph F. Smith said this:
"Through our efforts in [our ancestors'] behalf their chains of bondage will fall from them, and the darkness surrounding them will clear away, that light may shine upon them and they shall hear in the spirit world of the work that has been done for them by their [people] here, and will rejoice with you in your performance of these duties." (Welcome to Conference, 2009)
Family history research is a new thing for me. I'm just now getting into it, but already I feel its pull and impact in my life. I didn't understand it before, but I'm learning to understand it now. It's given me an entirely new understanding of what it means to be a temple-going people. That is, Mormons are a temple-going people, and the reason has more to do with our ancestors than it does with us. Yes, we can feel peace in the temple, but more importantly, our ancestors can feel peace because of the ordinances we perform in the temple. Our ancestors will break free from darkness and the chains of darkness, when we attend the temple and do the work which God requires of us.
I have a testimony of temples and the ordinances that are performed in them. I love to visit temples I haven't been to before -- to walk around the grounds, to touch the walls, to go inside. I feel the influence of the Holy Spirit when I'm there, and I feel an increased love for all people -- those who are living and those who have passed away. I feel enriched and enlivened and blessed.
*If you aren't a Mormon, take a look at some of these resources. They will give you a better idea of what Mormons believe about family history and temples.
Thing I am thankful for: Sunday afternoon naps