A couple of weeks ago, Mary Geisen shared some thoughts about legacy in relation to a post about creating I wrote. Her words have begun to ruminate in me. This offering is my initial attempt to really consider what it means to leave a legacy.
Have you ever thought about different aspects of legacy?
My father, whom I am beyond blessed to call Dad, was left a legacy of brokenness. His father was an alcoholic who abandoned his family when my father was three. His mother worked hard and traveled for nursing jobs to keep my father and his sister fed and clothed. But she loved him well and instilled in him a character that nurtured a loyal, hardworking man, even into his eighties. I wonder, though, if there are still scars that never completely healed because of his father’s choices.
My mother grew up in a two-parent family, knowing she was loved. The legacy her parents left her is different from my father’s.
What makes a legacy?
One way Webster’s defines Legacy is as: “Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past”
The legacy my parents have left my sisters and me is one of love. Authenticity.
In fact, there was striving and struggling, as they raised us three girls. But even through the messy, the sometimes painful, the grappling we did as a family, we knew we were loved.
As Hubs and I raise our boy-men—watching as each day steps them closer to adulthood—I’ve contemplated the legacy we’re imprinting on their lives. These years are definitely filled with mistakes, words I wish I could take back. At times, I wish I was better at putting myself in each of their places to better understand the struggles they face.
But, we’ve also been intentional about listening when they wanted to talk . . . even when the words spewing from their mouths are harsh. We’ve sought to love them in ways they accept. To laugh with them, and on occasion, to cry with them.
We hope when they look back, it’ll be with a sense that we’ve loved them well.
God’s legacy to each of his children is one of love.
He loves us when we sin,
when we mess up,
Even when we walk away for awhile.
There’s nothing we can do that will make our Father stop loving us.
He wants us to share His legacy with those who people our worlds, to love them as He loves us.
Tall order? Indeed.
People aren’t perfect. Let’s face it. We’re going to mess up sometimes in our interactions with others. We may try to love well and do it all wrong.
We’re going to yell at our children, or our spouse. We’ll sometimes say the wrong thing to someone and hurt their feelings. At times, we’ll reflect selfishness rather than kindness.
But, when we’re humble,
when we admit our wrong,
when we ask for forgiveness,
when we choose to work on living out love again . . .
Imagine the impact God can have in others’ lives through us.
God’s gifted His children with the privilege of sharing about Him and encouraging people to draw near to Him.
As we live our lives in a way that reflects Jesus’ presence, how will that impact those around us?
We don’t get to spend a lifetime with everyone whose paths we cross. When people look back on the season when my life intersected with theirs, what will they remember? What will they think—feel—when they recall my name?
I hope they think, “Her life, words, and actions pointed me toward Jesus. She loved well.”
It seems like, in part, leaving a meaningful legacy comes down to how we treat others and how they receive our efforts. It doesn’t take much for people to look beyond a few words or something done for them to understand the true intentions of our heart.
When we consistently love through our words and actions, people will remember that. When we pray for them and encourage them to seek the Lord, who knows the work God will do?
My dad’s legacy was broken, but he shattered that pattern in his life. He’s an amazing father. He was there for my swim meets, my choir concerts, the plays I performed in. He was lavish with his time and his hugs in my growing up years. He continues to be the model I look to when it comes to loyalty and loving.
My mom’s the one who nudges me to think outside my box. She encourages me and serves my family in ways that enable me to pursue my writing dream. She’s the thread that keeps our family close-knit.
I hope I can leave the same kind of legacy of love with our sons—and others—as my parents have with me.
What about you? How would you define “Legacy?” What are you doing to leave a legacy in the lives closest to you?
I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup and #TellHisStory