From One of the Best Families


Would I always feel like a “second-class citizen” in the Church because my parents weren’t LDS?

From One of the Best Families

“Bad blood. 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 superlative parenthood by telling us how great our kids would be if we were faithful. If that were true, though, I didn’t have a chance. My family had more than its share of divorce, alcoholism, infidelity, and a number of other unimpressive vices. I was a convert and sometimes felt eons behind the lucky souls who had LDS parents.

It started to bother me. 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 LDS family,” a friend confided in me. “I want my children to have good genes and the best grandparents.”

If everyone felt that way, why was I even trying? No matter how hard I worked on strengthening my faith, no matter how much service I rendered, 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 those “born in the covenant”?

My answers came through a blessing and through the scriptures. “Read the book of Ruth,” I was told by an older friend in a blessing at the beginning of the school year. “It has a special message for you.”

I immediately began poring through that book in the Old Testament. I read, prayed, and reread. I studied commentaries and concordances. 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 her 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), said Ruth to Naomi, originating one of the Old Testament’s most beautiful and well-known passages. Ruth, with Naomi’s help, adapted well to the ways of the new land and eventually married a good man and bore a son. It was a wonderful, inspiring account. But what was the meaning for me?

Finally, through the Spirit, it came to me. The key was at the very end of the book, where it mentions Ruth’s part in the lineage of David, hence 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 bloodline of all. This great woman, who came from generations of idol worshipers, would be a forebear of the Savior of the world.

That was how the Lord told me that if I were faithful, no blessing would be withheld from me because I wasn’t born to LDS parents. It would be naive and narrow-minded for people to hold that against me, or for me to hold it against myself. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I did indeed come from one of the best families, and my brothers and sisters and I have the potential to share an equal inheritance, as long as we remain faithful. I’ll always be grateful for that insight.

[photos] Photography by Phil Shurtleff

[illustration] The Spirit led me to an answer in the Old Testament story of Ruth and Naomi. “Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” (Illustration by Robert Barrett.)