To Leave a Legacy…
Wow, what a day it’s been!
Over the last couple days, we’ve been digging through and rearranging boxes and stuff in our bulging garage. We’ve also gotten rid of a bunch, and we’re not done yet–not by a long shot. Some of the items came with the house when we bought it as an estate about a year and a half ago. We have found several treasures amongst the “trash”, however, making the digging seem like a treasure hunt. Some of our own boxes have been packed so long, we’re opening them to find cool items we’ve forgotten we had.
Two days ago, my son and a couple of his buddies were outside watching the large neighborhood duck pond which backs our yard. They discovered, sadly, an orphaned duckling swimming around. They were quite concerned for the baby’s well-being, and decided to name it “Alfonso”–a great name, I told them, but it’s likely a female. They kept the name anyway. Since then, our family has kept an eye on Alfonso, and I’m happy to report that she seems to be making it on her own just fine. Not all of her feathered neighbors are pleased when she comes around, but she seems to be fairly confident in her abilities, and she’s eating well. We have no way of knowing what happened to Mama, but Alfonso is carrying on to the best of her ability.
Returning to the boxes–I spent the last hour or so pouring over yearbooks from my Junior High, High School and College years, and flipped through notebooks half-full of poetry, notes and prayers that I wrote during those years. Then I moved to photo albums in the same box which held memories of my wedding, as well as a friend’s wedding I was a part of, a touristy vacation in the London area, and a summer spent working at a children’s home in Mexico. Then I came across photos of my siblings and I, taken several years before one brother died. Precious memories. The find that left me in tears, though, were photos of a dear friend, accompanied by his eulogy, written by another friend. Everett was a dear soul, a brother to me. His scarred life vividly bore the healing power of Jesus, and he tirelessly shared that healing with any and all who crossed paths with him. You couldn’t help but be touched by God’s hand in Everett’s presence. Even on his death bed.
All of these seemly random accounts have gotten me thinking over the last couple days–what sort of legacy am I leaving behind? When I’m dead and gone, and people are digging through my “treasures”, what will they find? Will what I leave behind tell a story, or just be stuff for someone to dig through and toss away? Will it have meaning to anyone but me?
What am I instilling in my son, so that when I am gone he has what it takes to carry on with confidence and hope, whatever those around him may say or do?
Am I leaving behind a legacy of God’s hand on my life that will leave His unmistakeable print on those whose lives cross paths with mine? Am I making a difference in the lives of those around me?
On this step of our journey, I challenge you to take a good hard look at what your legacy will be for those you leave behind. I know there are a few things I need to take care of….
I often think of Everett, his generosity and loving spirit, the passionate love he had for his daughter, his wonderful art work, his struggles with his past, and the way he and Steve would argue about the stupidest things, get all upset with each other, then end up hugging and praying together. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It feels like another lifetime ago.
So many dreams and ambitions have gone by the wayside now, there is no legacy left in my life but that of the children I’ve taught over the past twenty years. My own children are at that stage where they are rejecting everything their parents tried to teach them in order to pursue the meaning of their own lives on their own terms, just as I did so many years ago. I cling to the scripture which teaches us that those things we instilled in them during their youth will not depart from them — but the anxiety and frustration is still there, taunting me with my sense of failure. Yet I find hope in the faces of the little children in my class on Sunday morning as they come to know God through the stories and songs and scriptures. Their smiles and laughter and unbounded joy revive my spirit and help me to keep going.
Our days with Everett were, definitely, a lifetime ago.
It is a lot to consider–what impact we’ve had on the lives around us. Often, we touch hearts and minds and are completely unaware of the effect we’ve had. I guess the goal is to live life honestly, and to the best of our ability, sharing what we’ve learned along the way. Love deeply, live generously, be grateful, and honor God in so doing. Certainly our relationships with our children and spouses are the natural place to focus. I know I have a long way to go there. I think of how often I quote phrases my mother spoke to me when she had no idea the impact those few words would have in my brain. She wasn’t trying to give me a quote to live by necessarily. It was just something she said that fit the moment and it stuck with me. This makes me more mindful of the phrases I speak to my son–what will stick with him? Anything? What has impacted him the most from his time with me, or even just observing me.
I think if I’m not careful I can really stress myself out about it, which ends up being counter-productive. But if my focus is on just being the best mom I can be for him, and continuing to cultivate our relationship, then maybe I have a greater impact on his life.
You mentioned the little ones in your Sunday School class. Sometimes I wonder if that’s not God showing us our future–a faint image of the “smiles and laughter and unbounded joy” which will be ours one day. Beautiful innocence. We do have hope–for ourselves and for those we love.
Thank you for entering into the conversation with me, Rob.