For years I ignored this fascination that others have had with their ancestry, with their roots. I didn’t see the need or the use for it. At all. That is, until I got cataracts. I know that’s a strange leap, but these tiny little things on my eyes – too small to even remove yet – got me thinking about end of life stuff. You know, that time, when you wonder if you’ve done all you want to do, said all you want to say, blah blah blah.

So in a state of temporary funk (it truly only lasted a week), I jumped on the site, spit my precious DNA into a tube (gagged only once!), and sent it off for analysis.

Being totally transparent here, I so wanted it to be a surprising, exotic result. Maybe Russian. I would then call my husband Boris and I’d be Natasha, and the kids could be squirrel and moose. (Just joking, but Russian was my wannabe heritage.)

Nope. No Russian. In fact, only one teeny tiny surprise. Lots of German and English, a bit of Scottish, and a surprising sliver of Swedish. But even though it was so bland, my curiosity was peaked. So I dug into the amazing archives amassed by this organization over the years. Mind-blowing.

Photos of my ancestors and their actual gravestones. Handwritten national census records (oh, to have handwriting like that!). A photocopy of my great-great-great-and-so-on-grandfather’s certificate of participation in the Union Army during America’s Civil War. Say, what?

I have heard that some people have even found ancestors’ journals and letters written to each other. Oh my, but those items must contain details and connections that give a richness to the flatness of a family tree of boxes.

Tomorrow’s archives may be quite different. With smartphones and iCloud capabilities we have amassed hundreds and thousands of photos. (Not sure what sense our future families will make of selfies…). Perhaps our texts and emails will be part of what our future families will be digging through to find out about us? (Shudder!)

In the Bible, until Moses wrote it all down, the Israelites’ history was captured by story tellers, verbally recounting God’s many rescues in detail with every Passover meal. For centuries. The same stories, handing over guardianship of the nation’s story to generation after generation.

When Moses penned Deuteronomy, he warned the people nearly twenty times ‘not to forget.’

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children. ~Deuteronomy 4:9 {ESV}

I’d like to provide that for generations to come, that connection to God. Because the absolute truth is that God is a part of ALL of our stories even if we don’t believe that, or even believe in Jesus.

In the beginning, God… ~Genesis 1:1 {ESV}

Sure, I still intend to take many more photos of our family life, admittedly all happy-looking ones. But I’d like to weave a thread through our “archives,” reminding every generation forward, that…

God was totally involved in our lives, even when we didn’t believe;

Jesus did what he did for US so His Spirit could infuse our very lives;

and, our story is not one that stands alone but is part of a massive Kingdom story beyond anything captured online.

Anywhere.

Yes, my family’s story is a story of collective memories. Everyday joys, posed and unposed. But I have become keenly aware, as I search the archives of my ancestors, of my desire to ensure that God doesn’t get lost in its telling.

As my cataracts grow, reminding me that our life is but a fleeting moment, my new mantra is to be ever aware of how I am capturing a God’s eye view of our family’s story for generations to come.

Amen and amen.

 

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Diane Karchner
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1 Comment

  1. Sarah Robinson on July 29, 2020 at 9:19 AM

    Your writings are so relatable, Diane. The ancestry thing has really helped me connect my family’s dysfunctional dots: I hired Tree Shakers to help me with the details of snippets of information I had on my mom’s mysterious-maternal grandfather’s side. Writing memoir has spurred me on to know more, not necessarily write about them but to try and understand these people from whence I came. Their spiritual lives are a total mystery, but based on what you’ve written and how strongly I too feel about God’s role in my life, our children will know what and Who has had our hearts. Hope those cataracts don’t give you too much trouble!

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