Would you like to read your great-great grandmother’s journal about her immigration to America? What about your father’s love letters to your mother from the trenches of the battlefield? Would you cherish the private diaries that your grandmother kept next to her bed, where she wrote down the intimate details of her life?
I would! But often the people that we love the most do not know the stories that matter most to us.
Recording history. If I don’t write down my family stories, my grandchildren may never know why we moved our family from Texas in 1980 in response to our faith. Nor would they know why I continue to encourage others to write the stories that matter most.
I would love to know more of my family’s history, but very few of them left any written records. I have no way of identifying the people and places in some of our family photos, because both of my parents and extended family are gone. I only know what I’ve read on my ancestors’ gravestones—their names, birth and death dates, and a few interesting epitaphs.
Considering epitaphs. As I read this epitaph as a teenager, I also noticed the ceramic photo of the deceased on his headstone: “Beware kind friend as you pass by, where you are now, so once was I. Where I am now, you soon shall be. Prepare for death and follow me.”
I referred to this inscription several times in the past few years. I quoted it when teaching composition at UALR, as my students began their academic journeys. Later, I shared it with some new writing teachers. And I hope it encourages you to record your faith and family stories.
My mother composed her own epitaph, but she didn’t know it at the time. We engraved a quote from one of her poems on her headstone. She wrote, “Happiness, joy, God’s promise I find. My search has now ended, salvation is mine” (Nelle Baize, 2001).
Building legacies. My mother left us her collection of poems as part of her legacy. When Mother read her words to me for the first time during a long-distance phone call, a new voice emerged from her poetry—a voice of hope, love, and faith.
After Mother died, I realized that no one else in my family knew about her poetry. My brother and two sisters knew many of our family stories. But Mother never told her most powerful faith stories—like the account of her spiritual transformation after her heart stopped during a medical procedure. And now, she could not shared her miraculous testimony of deliverance and healing that had touched my heart and transformed my concept of heaven and hell.
Psalm 1[02:18] also encourages us, “Write down for the coming generation what the LORD has done, so that people not yet born will praise him” (GNT).
Remember, when we begin to tell the stories that matter most, lives change and hearts heal—that’s StoryPower!
Have you recorded your faith story?