I stood before a classroom full of female students who were dressed in orange stripes Most of them were tattooed and many had teeth missing. They were rough, and world-wise, humbled by their situation, and I loved them.
For three years I served in the Relief Society at the Davis County Jail. We taught Sundays and Wednesdays, our lessons simple and directed by the Spirit. I loved that time I spent in the jail!
One Wednesday evening I was teaching the concept of eternal families. It’s a tough thing to teach to a group like this because many of our sisters had lost custody of their children because of their bad choices. And of course, none of them were able to be with their kids at that time anyway, and they missed them.
It’s a beautiful thing to be able to share physical, emotional and spiritual space with someone who is clean and sober for the first time in a long time, and who is humbled and seeking God for direction. I began my lesson by talking about family honor, about the value of a name. We discussed famous names and the people behind them. Some of the sisters talked about the love and respect they had for their own parents or grandparents. I talked about my own family…the family from which I came…and how I loved and admired them; especially my mother who was devoted to her children and her Lord and proved herself to be strong in a difficult situation. She was a Parrish, daughter of George Parrish and Elizabeth Mae Wood. Both names carried respect in their communities. Then I talked a bit about my dad, whose addiction to alcohol and other habits led him to abandon his wife and children. I told the sisters that in spite of the poor decisions of our father, all four of his children were faithful, educated, devoted, endowed people who worked to do good in the world. “Whether or not he deserved it, or was even aware of it, my father’s children bring honor to his name.”
Tonight as I was driving home with my husband I was talking about my father, I cannot even recall the context of the discussion, and I mentioned that I wonder what my dad will be like in 1,000 years. I might, by then, want to get to know him.
The important thing to me is that I recognized that I carry a name that represents a cluster of people, and I want to bring honor to that name.
As a Christian I carry the name of Christ in a similar way, and it is part of my stewardship to bring honor to that name as well. We all know plenty of professed Christians who dishonor the Holy name they represent. I pray for strength to be a good representative.
Another thing about honor is something I’ve been pondering
lately. I remember once thinking about
my mother, whom I respect and adore. I
remember thinking that I wanted to be like her in every way. But as a woman who is now the age she was
when I was thinking this, I know mom would tell me to imitate that which is
worth imitating, and dismiss the rest.
Mom would probably say something like this:
Do not dishonor those we admire by emulating their
None of us…not a single human you have ever met…is fully
worthy of imitation. Only one human who
ever lived is worthy of that. For those who know and love me, be picky about what you want
to follow. And spit the rest out. Please, don’t carry my weaknesses to the next
generation. Nip them in the bud. It does not show any disrespect of lack of
love. It shows wisdom.
My HOPE is that we take whatever name we have been given, good or bad, and bring honor to it.