September 19, 2010

What's in a name?

Among all the fun we had while we were at Bear Lake last month,
the most memorable experience of the week 
would have to have been our Family Evening.
All 107 of us Christensens gathered together for some fun activities, a little break-dance number performed by my awesome nephew, Ethan, and a spiritual thought prepared by uncle Marvin.
Uncle Marvin began to paint the life sketch of Grandpa Wally, Garrett's grandfather who passed away last year...... 
Wally served in the military during WWII.  He fought bravely during terrifying battles in the Pacific and witnessed pain and death that he avoided talking about for the rest of his life.  After serving his country, he spent the rest of his life serving his family as he raised seven children alongside his wife, Phyllis, on their farm in Salem, Utah.  Today, their posterity numbers 121 with more on the way, all wonderful people who are carrying on the Christensen name well with lives of service and love.  
After recounting all that Wally had accomplished in his life--his service and family being his most important accomplishments--Marvin held up a dog tag and explained its importance to the men and women of the military. 
Dog tags carry the name and identity of the individual who wears them.  Not only are they important in identifying a soldier if he or she is killed in battle, but soldiers take pride in carrying their name--their family name--and bringing honor to it with their actions and service.
Wally left a legacy of service and love to the Christensen name because of the way he lived his entire life....
Marvin then brought out a box of dog tags, each carrying the first name of an individual Christensen, the date they were either born or married into the family, and followed by the inscription "W.S. Christensen" at the bottom, because that is the family name we carry from Grandpa Wally.  Every Christensen now has his or her own dog tag to remind us of the name we come from and our duty to bring further honor to that name.  

Marvin also had an extra set of 121 dog tags (one for every Christensen) made for Grandma to keep with her as a reminder of her incredibly large family. :)

I was so touched by Marvin's words that caused me to reflect on how I am carrying the Christensen name that I married into.
But little does Marvin know that his object lesson has caused me to reflect on another name that I carry and hope to bring honor to.
The name of Christ. 

When I was baptized at 8 years old, I made the decision to be a follower of Christ and to live a life of service and love for others.  
Every Sunday at church, I take the sacrament and am reminded of that promise that I made to uphold His name as I go through my everyday life.  
How am I doing on that promise?  
When people meet me, see me, talk to me, do they feel their Savior's love, or do they feel judgment and self-righteousness? 
When I come upon someone in need, does that person feel concern from someone genuine, or do they feel indifference and unauthenticity?
I sure hope it's the former, but I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I don't know.  And that probably means that there is definitely room for a lot of improvement. 

I know with every fiber of my being that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.  I want nothing more than to live a life more like He lived, to see and love others (including myself) as He sees and loves them, and to return to live with Him someday. 
I also know that I am not perfect....
....I hope that I am not tarnishing His name.
 I'm becoming very aware of people I may have unintentionally offended or hurt by the things I have said or done (or things that I have failed to say or do).
To those people, I would like to say that I am so sorry, and I will be better.
Even if it takes me my whole life to get it right, I will be better. :)
I hope that I can work harder to carry on Christ's legacy of service and love.  
I may not have a dog tag engraved with the word "Christ" hanging around my neck,
but I hope to spend the rest of my life living in a way that no one would ever need to see His name physically written on me to know that I carry it. 


Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful post, Holly. I love your insights and the ways in which you relate your lessons of life to things eternal.

I was beginning to worry about you- had not seen you blogging for a few days. I missed you! Are you OK?

In reference to your post tonight, it reminded me of a similar experience I have with someone. She was my former doctor.

Dr. Noemi came from Belgium. Her father was a world renown philosopher. He and Dr. Noemi's mother both played vital roles during the Nazi Occupation of Europe- their work included derailing and blowing up Nazi trains as they came into Belgium and smuggling innocent Jewish women and children out of Europe, away from Hitler's maniacal ragings and murders.

Being Jewish herself, Dr. Noemi, a child of three at the time, was placed into hiding by her parents for more than five years with sympathetic Belgians who wanted to help save her life.

After the war, and many years later, Dr. Noemi's father was made a Baron by Belgian Royalty. Dr. Noemi was very proud of her father's accomplishments, very proud at being a Baron's daughter. She enjoyed her "royal" calling.

The reason I am telling so much about Dr. Noemi and her background is this- she considered herself very important because of being her father's child and his national status. But, she has another Father, a Heavenly Father, whom she neither considers nor regards. Her belief in a God is non-existent.

While I do not judge her for her beliefs or lack thereof, I thought as I sat in church how lucky I the New Testament, in Acts 17:28-29, it tells me that I am the offspring of God. Yes, I am a literal child of God. Dr. Noemi's heritage with her earthly father is impressive. Yet, I am grateful to believe in my Heavenly Heritage, knowing and fully believing that I come from a God of grace, power, compassion, kindness and love, One who is all-knowing, all-caring and non-excluding. His Royalty means a great deal to me.

Sorry this got so long- please feel free to delete it off. :) C

Meg said...

Well put, Holly. I hope that I, too, can show my faith through my daily actions. It's so good to know that I have a Heavenly Father who is aware of everything I do, and who is cheering for me to succeed in all my endeavors.

Nicole said...

Holly I love you! Your documentation of the wonderful moments at Bear Lake, what family means in many different lights and even deeper spiritual insights! I love your blog! :)

Lila said...

what a beautiful post. You are a wonderful writer!

Claire Christensen said...

I too was very touched at our Bear Lake FamilyHome Evening. I always wanted to make my parents proud of me and that kept me from ever wanting to tarnish their name. I feel the same as you when it comes to honoring the name of Christ. I know I am far from perfect but I hope people feel my love for them. I am not good at many things but if I can only be good at loving than I think my Father in Heaven will be happy about that and that is just one of your many attributes, you know how to love!

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