By Lauren Madsen
Nothing seems to connect us as human beings quite like stories. When someone chooses to open up and share a personal experience, often something sacred happens. I love Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s description of the potential power of our own stories: “Sometimes your stories make people laugh. Sometimes they bring them to tears. Sometimes they will help people to continue in patience, resilience, and courage to face another hour, another day and come a little closer to God.”
I know people who feel their experiences are not worth recording. They believe they are not interesting enough, exciting enough, or inspiring enough. Some may feel the pull to record, but feel they don’t have the time for keeping a journal. President Wilford Woodruff once wrote: "Some may say [journal keeping] is a great deal of trouble. But we should not call anything trouble which brings to pass good. I consider that portion of my life which has been spent in keeping journals and writing history to have been very profitably spent. If there was no other motive in view [except] to have the privilege of reading over our journals and for our children to read, it would pay for the time spent in writing it."
Of all the worthy pursuits I can think of, record keeping is right up at the top. It is a shame when our learning experiences are kept to ourselves, as they may encourage our descendants in ways we cannot imagine. If our recording of sacred experiences can inspire members of our family along the covenant path, then record keeping becomes about a lot more than just sharing nice stories. It turns into a significant way for us to feel bound to each other for eternity. In 2 Nephi 25:23, Nephi explains his motive in record keeping, “to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God.”
The story of my great great grandma Lydia listening to a prompting which saved her children from injuries inspires me to live close to the Spirit so I can protect my own children. The story of my great great great grandma Rebecca falling from a wagon on her way to the Salt Lake valley and living with the pain from that the rest of her life inspires me to endure my own pains, however long they might last. The story of my grandmother Diane sending off her new husband on a two and half year mission inspires me to sacrifice in the ways I am asked to. I draw strength from the stories of these covenant keepers who I am bound to through the ordinances of the temple.
We have an important stewardship over our stories. No one else will write our stories for us. It is up to us. When evaluating how we spend our time, we would do well to consider our record keeping efforts. Spencer W. Kimball posed a great question in his article The Angels May Quote From It: “What could you do better for your children and your children’s children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved?” If an ancestor’s story has ever inspired you and drawn you closer to them and to God, let that motivate you. Your recorded stories can have that same ripple effect that will shape generations.