Bad genes. That’s what I must have, I said to myself, after listening to another lesson on families.
The lessons depressed me. They were supposed to inspire us to become excellent parents by telling us how great our children would be if we were faithful. But if that were true, I didn’t have a chance. My family had more than its share of divorce, alcoholism, infidelity, and a number of other unimpressive vices. As a convert, I sometimes felt far behind the lucky souls who had Latter-day Saint parents.
I started to worry. I was surrounded by people whose families had been in the Church for generations, and that seemed very important to some of them. “I’ve got to marry someone from a good, strong family,” a friend confided. “I want my children to have good genes.”
If everyone felt that way, why was I even trying? No matter how hard I worked to strengthen my faith, no matter how much I learned about Christ and tried to be like him, would I always be “second class”? Through no fault of my own, was I less than others whose ancestors had been faithful members of the Church?
My answers came through a blessing and through the scriptures. “Read the book of Ruth,” I was told by an older friend who gave me a blessing at the beginning of the school year. “It has a special message for you.”
I immediately began searching that Old Testament book for the message it had for me. I read, prayed, and read it again. I studied commentaries. I came to know and love Ruth, who turned away from the idols of her people to worship the God of Israel, the God of her husband. I admired her faith, for she didn’t leave her new religion even when her husband died. Instead, she traveled with her mother-in-law Naomi to Naomi’s homeland, leaving friends, family, and everything familiar behind.
“Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1:16), Ruth said to Naomi in one of the Old Testament’s most beautiful and well-known passages. Ruth, with Naomi’s help, adapted well to the ways of her new land and eventually married Boaz, a good man, and bore a son.
The book of Ruth was a wonderful, inspiring account. But what meaning did it have for me? Finally, through the Spirit, I realized that the key was at the very end of the book, specifically the mention of Ruth’s part in the lineage of David, which is the lineage of Christ. Ruth, the Moabitess, the convert from a foreign land, showed such great faith that she became an integral part of the most blessed family of all. This great woman, who came from generations of idol worshipers, was a forebear of the Savior of the world!
That was how I learned that if I am faithful, no blessing will be withheld from me because I wasn’t born to Latter-day Saint parents. It would be naive and narrow-minded for people to hold that fact against me or for me to hold it against myself. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I come from one of the best families, and as long as we remain faithful, my brothers and sisters and I can share equally in all that our Father in Heaven has promised his children.