Have you ever spent much time considering the legacy that you're leaving your children (and their children and their children)? If you have younger children, you probably haven't. It wasn't something that was "front of mind" for me until I lost my own Mom very suddenly. In the year that has followed, I've spent much time reflecting upon who my mom was, what she taught me, and most powerfully: the legacy that she left us of hard work, perseverance, humility, humor, and a sacred regard for life.
As I've reflected upon every good gift that my Mom gave my sister and I, it has cemented the value of the "now" in my mind. We don't like to ponder our own end, but losing a parent pushes it to the forefront of your consciousness. In the end, we cannot control the fact that "we are but a vapor," but we do have the good gift of choosing WHO we want to be for our children and the gracious ability to intentionally cultivate an inheritance that has generational benefit for our great-great-grandchildren.
And no- I don't mean financial benefit. I mean things that moths and rust cannot destroy. We have choices in how we speak, how we relate, how we give, how we listen, how we serve, and how we lead that will be reflected upon the hearts of generations of our children. Within our own human limitations, we get to CHOOSE our legacy.
Life get's busy. Things happen. Unforeseen can take over in a moment. But we have ONE opportunity- a collection of days- to plant the seeds of what truly matters into the hearts of our children. Throughout their lives, they too will pass these along to their own children.
There are few neutral words or actions. We either speak to the benefit of their hearts--- or we don't. We put people first--- or we don't. We reflect grace--- or we don't. We repent--- or we don't.
To this end, I created an intentional list of what I prayerfully hope my children would say of me, as they reflect upon my life, after I'm gone. It's a bit idealistic (and mildly morbid!), but I keep it tucked into my Bible and reflect on it daily. It's both encouraging and convicting, and it stays close to my heart.
What I want my kids to say about me and their childhood when they're grown:
She always listened with an open heart, giving us her full attention.
She was a reflection of swift grace.
She lived a repentant life, showing us what it looked like to need a Savior.
She loved our Daddy well and always showed him respect.
We had fun! She surprised us with special events and dates just to show she cared.
She took special time for each of us.
She cooked us delicious meals and was diligent about our health.
She loved to write, paint and make things beautiful, and she did that often.
She made holidays memorable and filled with traditions that I'm now doing with my family.
She taught me how to love: kindly, patiently, mercifully.
She loved Jesus.
She was diligent about our schoolwork, and we had so many memorable projects and field trips. Learning came alive and our days were filled with great books and interesting experiences.
She didn't let us get away with things or drop the ball. She held us to a high standard, but always with love.
We loved learning new things as a family.
I could talk to her about ANYTHING.
She was fun to be around.
I want to be like her in many ways.
I heard her praying over us all of the time.
Of course, after that lofty list, I also have a few things in mind that I want to avoid having them believe or perceive:
The person on the receiving end of a message was more important than me.
She was always on her phone.
She didn't truly listen to me- she was always rushed.
A clean house was more important than time with me or my feelings.
She would hold past mistakes against me.
She was distracted and rushed.
I think one of the most powerful actions we can take in our journey in this flesh is to reflect upon the fact that we won't be here forever- and that when we are gone from this world, our words and actions will hang forever in the hearts of our children. They will say things we said, do things we did, believe things we believed- and these are the gifts (or burdens) that they too will pass along to their children.