Many LDS singles have access to family home evening (FHE) groups, but many don’t. For them, Monday night can seem like a burdensome reminder of the family they don’t have.
As a single who has spent many years away from home and with no family of my own, I’ve encountered several options for dealing with this issue. But then I came to realize that, while I can't spend Monday night with my family who will come after me, I can spend Monday night with my family who came before me. That's when FHE began to spell Family History Evening.
So much more than names and the temple
When we hear the term family history, we Latter Day Saints tend to think of finding our ancestors and performing temple work in their behalf. This is very important, doctrinally vital work.
Yet family history is so much more.
Family history is ensuring the information we do have is complete and accurate.
Family history is indexing handwritten records to make them more accessible via digital search.
And family history is gathering the stories about our ancestors. Those stories help us to understand who we are and the heritage that those who came before us have left us.
And here’s the best part. You don't need to be married to do any of this.
It's all about the stories
If you take a moment to compare Malachi 4:5-6 with D&C 2:1-3, you see that both talk about turning our hearts (since we’re the children) to our ancestors (aka the fathers). Temple work helps us to do this, but so do gathering the stories about those who came before us.
I don’t feel particularly close to my great grandmother by knowing when she was born. I do feel interested upon knowing that she felt compelled to leave a lantern in the window one night, the same night two “lost” missionaries knocked on her door asking to spend the night in the barn. If you smell a conversion story here, congrats!
More than anything else, it’s the stories that turn the hearts. They help us know who came before us and how they faced their challenges. And knowing that helps us to know who we are and informs the choices that we make in the face of our challenges. It’s the stories that help me to see my ancestors as real people.
Get involved in getting the stories
While I was in college, my parents purchased and moved into a new house. Little did they know that just around the corner lived my great grandfather's brother, who my dad called Uncle Darrel. They soon learned about that when they attended church in their new ward. My father would often visit with Uncle Darrel, and in my visits home I would sometimes accompany him.
My relationship to Uncle Darrel changed when I wanted to know more about my great grandfather. Since my great grandfather was no longer living, I decided to interview Uncle Darrel. Talking about his brother led Uncle Darrel to talk about himself. I soon found that I was collecting the story of his life as well.
But I also found that my feelings for these men began to change. I began to see both of these men as real people. And my heart turned towards them in a way that simply knowing when they were born could never provide.
Uncle Darrel passed away a few years ago. Now my visits to his grave mean something to me.
Make family history a part of you now
By engaging family history while we are single, we prepare ourselves to engage it when (hopefully) we are married and raising families of our own. Education begins at home. That education must include history, and especially family history.
Many singles think that FHE is for people who have families or a singles group. I say you need to own your life. My attitude is to live as much of the restored gospel as I can. That means having FHE even if I am the only one attending.
How well will you prepare the next generation if you fail to pass on the story of where they came from? How else are they to know their legacy and heritage? How can they honor that legacy if they don't know what it is? How will you honor that legacy if you don’t know that story?
If you don't have that story, then seek after it.
Again, you don't need to be married to do any of this. And you don’t need an FHE group to have wonderfully spiritual, family-centered experiences every Monday night. Just use Family History Evening to spell FHE.
(If you don't know where to start, talk to your ward family history consultant, or go online to www.familysearch.org for more information. The online tutorials are especially worthwhile. I also noticed today a family history feature on the homepage for the Church website filled with lots of great info to get you started.)
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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