I saw this question posted on the Family Search Facebook page a couple days ago…and it’s still got me thinking. Were they really asking us to reply to it? Or were they hoping to just get us thinking? Well…it did both for me. I almost immediately replied to their question….“Its given me a sense of self. A way to find out a deeper meaning of who I really am.”. But the more I think about it….it goes so much deeper than that.
I used to think I knew who I was. But I think I’m still finding that out. I am not just me anymore, but a combination of two people who’s DNA and family history were merged together to create me. I am my parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and on and on. Every new person I find occupies another part of my life and my history. I have become a stronger person realizing what struggles my ancestors have overcome.
My family and friends would tell you I’m still the sarcastic, quick on my feet, one-liner dropping person. And that part of me is still there. But, I look at life a lot differently since I started digging into my family. I used to think I was a woman of strength and courage…but that, too, has been put into perspective for me.
My ancestors have lived thru the Great Depression, death of children during epidemics, horrific deaths by accidents, raising children without fathers due to war and death, and leaving their homes to sail across an ocean for better lives, only to live in poverty and hardship to find that prosperity. What have I done that showed such strength and courage??? Nothing compared to them!
We live in a society that seems to focus more on the wants of a family rather than focusing on the needs. And I’m just as guilty of this as everyone else. Times were simpler for my ancestors, as I’m sure it was for yours, too. They worked hard and provided the necessities of life for their families…and one by one or in small groups they brought them to the United States from all over the world. Once here they all worked together to provide more and more for their families while continuing to bring extended family members here…acting as sponsors and giving them shelter once they immigrated here. Their kids were educated in our schools, learned English, and integrated their culture and traditions with those of their new friends and neighbors to help create what has become our new way of life.
So, to go back to that thought provoking question….How has family history changed you? I guess I’ve become more aware of the struggles, the stories, and most of all the successes of my family and myself. I no longer look at what I don’t have compared to my peers, but what I have been able to overcome and succeed at in an ever changing, modern world. A world where my ancestors gave up so much and made, what had to be the most heartbreaking and courageous, decisions of their lives. Decisions that not only impacted their generations but all generations that followed them.