At the end of “Hamilton“, we get the song “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”. The lyrics contain these lines “And when you’re gone, who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame? Who tells your story?” (full lyrics). It goes on to explain that Hamilton’s wife Eliza took it upon herself to write his story so that generations later we would have an understanding of Alexander himself.
Sister Camille N. Johnson talks about writing our stories in “Invite Christ to Author Your Story.” In Revelation 20:12 we read “and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” We see that in the end we will be judged based on the “books” written about our lives and our actions that are recorded in those books.
What Are Said Books?
What are the books we will be judged out of? On earth, I believe there are a few books that we will be judged out of. There are our personal journals, other people’s journals, and history books (for those that make them). There are probably others as well. We cannot control what others record about us, but we can control our actions and intents so that what’s written is accurate.
Our own journals are going to be key in our judgment if we are honest in them. We should keep an accurate account of our lives. Now, I don’t mean we need to record every little thing that happens every day. But we should record events that are important, have influenced us in some way, or have affected us.
In literature, we see a lot of examples of authors working together to produce a piece of literature that is published. In like manner, we should be co-authors in our story. Our Co-Author should be Jesus Christ as Sister Johnson explains. But how does this co-authoring work? How can we include the Savior in the writing of our story?
I believe we allow Christ to co-author our story in several ways. Patriarchal blessings, the covenants we make, the revelations and inspirations we receive are all examples or different kinds of stories that allow Christ to be our Co-Author.
Patriarchal blessings are a sort of roadmap for our lives. It contains the things of the Lord that are relevant specifically to us. It describes attributes we have been gifted with. Directions for certain areas of our lives are also revealed. For example, in my Patriarchal blessing, I’m admonished to “seek wisdom in good books.” This has served me well and has helped me gain knowledge in various areas not only spiritual ones.
The covenants we make contain promises we can achieve in this life that will keep us on the path leading back to God. We should each take time to review the wording of the covenants we make to fully understand the blessings available to us.
The revelations and inspiration we receive are part of our story and come directly from God through the Holy Ghost. We should take the time to write these things down and record these experiences. Those experiences can then help us in moments of doubt or in times of trial.
A Personal Narrative
I have a mentor who is in a word awesome. I’ve learned a lot from him that has helped me overcome the negativity in life. One of the things that he has taught me is to write a personal narrative. This narrative is forward-looking. It contains eight areas of life to help me become the person I desire to be.
The eight areas are Personal, Financial, Relationships, Physical Strength/Health, Success/Travel, Spiritual, House/Location, and Mission. For each area, I have written a few sentences describing who I want to be, what I want to do, or what I want. I review this narrative almost every night to remind myself of who I am becoming.
In order to write this narrative, I spent time thinking about each area and what I would put in it. I also took time to pray and find out what items the Lord would want me to add. It was a great exercise in looking forward to what I can become and do in my life.
The personal narrative has also helped me to set goals and strive for them. This way, I haven’t just written a wish list, but I have started to move towards making the narrative a reality.
One last area where we can have help in writing our story is through family history. I will admit, my wife is much better at this than I am. She has found stories about our ancestors and encouraged us to record stories from our lives that will be passed down to our children.
Family history isn’t just a story of the past. It is also a story of the present. As we record the histories of our family members we allow their stories to be told and shared. These memories are then passed on from generation to generation.
For example, in our research we have come across a relative who is affectionately called “Railroad Jack”. This relative got his name because he would travel on the railroads in a sling of his own making underneath the train cars. He was well educated and was known to setup a table where he would pay anyone a dollar if they could ask him a question he couldn’t answer. He also was known in some of the colleges during his travels. Professors who knew him would allow him to guest lecture when he was present in a class.
That is just one story in our history that has entertained and delighted our children. There are lots of stories out there, not just from our relatives, but also in our lives that we should be sharing with family.
As the song in “Hamilton” asks, “Who lives, who dies, who tells our story?” is important for each of us. We should keep the stories of our families alive so that when we meet them in the next life we can already feel kinship with them. As Latter-day Saints we should allow Christ to co-author our story so that we can stay on the covenant path and return to live with Heavenly Father and Him. Having a personal narrative can help us to have a story that will allow us to receive eternal life and have joy in the judgment day.