Just a Thought…

I had an interesting thought this morning. My husband is actively involved in family research and genealogy, and has made some rather interesting discoveries regarding some of our ancestors. I was thinking about some of these people, and about the choices they made. We are now able to see a certain snapshot view of these moments in their lives. Snippets gathered from a newspaper article or a letter or a family Bible.

As I look at my own life, I try to imagine what a future generation would think of me, of the person that I am, if all they had to go on was a newspaper article or a letter that I had written to someone. How accurate would the picture of Jennifer be?

Some of the snapshots that have survived these family members are not exactly the most flattering moments in their lives. One woman went to trial in New York City on morals charges. She had an affair with her very married family doctor. Another man was found dead in his garage clutching a bottle of homemade “hooch”.  These images tend to shape our view of who these two people are.

I wonder, however, how accurate these images of our ancestors are.  I mean, yes, these moments are fact.  They happened.  And whatever conclusions we draw on these events are probably deserved in that these people did make some bad choices that led to some scandalous or deadly outcomes.

Don’t we all make bad choices sometimes?  Our choices may not have led to our death, or to a scandal that rocked a family and a city….but I am sure they led to consequences that we probably would not want to be the standard by which others define our character.

This brings me to my question….If our ancestors had known that these moments would be preserved and passed down for future generations to find and form a “snapshot” of who they were, would they have made the same choices?  Would knowledge that these choices will produce consequences that will reach far into the future change those choices?

I don’t mean to ignore all the good moments that we found, as well, about our ancestors.  There are pastors and journalists and businessmen and farmers who have all made valuable contributions to their family and community.  Some of these deeds have survived them as well.

What about in my life.  What choices am I making now, and how do I want future generations to look back and see me?  What moments in my life will survive and speak of me long after I am gone?  Will it be the good choices that I am making?  Or my mistakes?  What choices would I make if I knew that a future generation will be looking at that particular moment in my life and forming an opinion of who I am?

Just a thought…

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