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.