Well, hi there! Welcome to my abode here on the interwebs.
You might be wondering about the name. A little background is in order.
I am an Ensign.
Not as in a nice gospel metaphor, but literally.
It’s my maiden name.
Growing up in the Latter-day Saint Church, I always loved my last name. It stood as a constant reminder of who I am, and to stand as a witness of what I believed. I love the pioneer heritage of my name. For example, my great-great-great-great grandfather, Samuel Ensign was a carpenter on both the Nauvoo and Salt Lake temples. He gave his life in service, literally, as he died in a tragic accident during the construction of the latter. Those beautiful wooden doors on the west side of the Salt Lake Temple where countless wedding photos have been taken? They are his handiwork. Over the years I have thought a lot about my name and the legacy I have the privilege and responsibility of carrying forward.
When I was a baby, my paternal grandparents were killed in a small plane accident along with three of my father’s siblings. While I never had the honor of getting to know them in this life, I often feel that they are near. I feel connected to them, and try to live my life in such a way as to make them proud.
Back in the late nineties, I happened to cross paths with Elder Dallin H. Oaks, who was a good friend to my grandparents. We were at the Salt Lake International Airport, and my aunt saw him across the way and pointed him out to us. To this day I am not exactly certain what came over me, but– completely out of character– I approached him and introduced myself. I can still remember the details of that conversation so long ago.
“Excuse me,” I inquired, “but are you Elder Oaks?”
He stopped and looked down at me. “Yes.”
“Well, my name is Tiffany Ensign,” I explained, “and I believe you knew my grandparents, Dave–”
“And Carol!” he exclaimed, finishing my sentence for me.
He graciously spent the next couple of minutes chatting with me, telling me what wonderful people my grandparents were, inquiring after my parents and my current experience as a student at BYU. It has been one of the most pivotal conversations of my life. Believe me, hearing an apostle praise your grandparents’ legacy really drives home the importance of honoring your family name.
I am reminded of the experience of President George Albert Smith, who in his youth was visited in a dream by his grandfather, George A. Smith, who had passed away. He asked young George, “What have you done with my name?” President Smith responded, “I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.”
Now, unfortunately, I cannot say that if my grandparents or other beloved ancestors asked me that same question that I could respond in the same manner that President Smith was able to do. I have deep regrets in my life. I am terribly aware of my imperfections and weaknesses. But I can say that today, here and now, I am doing the best that I can. I continue daily to do as President Gordon B. Hinckley frequently counseled– to try and be a little better. Certainly, some days are better than others. But, as we are often reminded, it is not necessarily where we are on the path that matters so much but rather that we maintain an upward trajectory toward our ultimate destination.
As we press forward in this manner, we honor Him whose name we covenant to take upon us each week when we partake of the sacrament.
I love the words of Elder Mervyn B. Arnold from the October 2010 Conference:
In that glorious day when we stand before our beloved Savior to report what we have done with His name, may we be able to declare: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” “I have honored Thy name.”
That is my wish too.
So, what’s in a name?
A whole lot.
During the April 2011 General Conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland chose to speak on being “an ensign to the nations.” In the closing minutes of his address, he spoke of messengers called from before the foundations of mortality to wave the Gospel to all the world.
As he said these words, Bryson suddenly grabbed my arm and started waving it in the air.
I looked at him in complete and utter bewilderment.
“Ummm, what are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m waving an Ensign,” he grinned back at me.
At that moment I groaned and rolled my eyes, but over time I have thought about those words more than once. Now, I certainly don’t claim to be an “ensign to the nations.” Not in the slightest. But I do strive to become a disciple on whom the Lord can rely. I work each day to do my family’s legacy justice. I study and pray so that I will be a mother who, as Sister Julie B. Beck has described, stands as a “lioness at the gate.”
I am a work in progress.
I am reaching, I am growing.
I am becoming.
And so here I stand, an Ensign. Waving.