When I was growing up I loved to listen to the stories my grandparents would tell. My grandfather, Pampaw, lived in Point Barrow, Alaska, working for the United States Geological Survey mapping out the Alaskan territory. He and his new wife, my grandmother, also worked with the native Americans bringing education to remote areas in Alaska. We loved listening to their stories. Like when Pampaw helped lead the search and rescue team after the fatal crash of Will Rogers’ and Wiley Post’s plane. After many years, they moved to the lower 48 and continued working with the native Americans in Arizona.
I learned from their stories what was important in my family’s heritage. It was clear that helping others, being resilient, becoming educated, sacrificing for the good of the community, and facing challenges with courage were each a part of my family story. The stories and the values they communicated helped to define who I am today. I strive to pass these values on to my children; I hope that they have learned the lessons from our history.
Many forces work to shape who we are. In my case it was the life-story of fearless grandparents who faced difficulty with dignity, persevering in spite of many obstacles. Other forces shape our values: religion, ethnicity, political affiliation, economic conditions, and more.
What has helped to shape your life? How have these forces been at work in your life and in your family?
Is it a unique or inspiring family story that helped to shape you? How are you defined by your religious beliefs? Do you celebrate your ethnicity and culture? What priority do politics play in your family? Is your current financial status defining who you are? Are you mission-minded or service-oriented?
So here is my challenge to you: After making time to define your family values (considering questions like those above), take time to pass them on both in story and in action.
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