Will You Leave A Legacy?
Will you leave a legacy?
According to Merriam-Webster the definition of legacy is: 1. A gift by will especially of money or other personal property 2. Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.
However, these dictionary definitions don’t quite match what I think of in my head as legacy.
My very good friend Danielle who, for many years, was also my right arm at work (and sometimes my left, to be honest), shook me out of a self-pitying wallow one day when I was frustrated about not achieving whatever goal of the week or month I had in my sights. I can’t for the life of me remember exactly what the circumstance was, but she said “Pam, you’re forgetting that these 4 kids of yours are also your legacy. Your achievement will not end with you. THEY will have an impact on the world as well”.
WOW. Wow, wow, wow. That hit me right across the face. In a very good way.
That’s the legacy I’m talking about. “The need or the desire to be remembered for what you have contributed to the world. In some cases, that contribution can be so special that the universe is unalterably changed”.
Here I was trying to accomplish more, achieve more, make more, do more, more, more, more. This is a theme of my life...one I am working very hard to recover from now, actually. But that’s fodder for another blog. I was investing so much time and energy into my profession and my work that I wasn’t spending nearly enough time and energy on the true and most important work of my life. Our kids. Did I spend a lot of time with them? Yes. Did I fill them with values and skills? Yes. And as a parent, I suffer from what I suspect most parents do...it never feels like it’s enough. You work yourself to near exhaustion, and still feel you could have, should have done more.
But the way Danielle said it had a profound impact on the way I viewed the importance of my parenting. It instantly made me calmer, more focused, more intentional. Hey, who knows what these kids might do with their lives!! They might cure cancer, or write a new musical composition, or have kids that have kids that have a kid who becomes President of the United States. Anything is possible. Or, they could live a simple life in a rural community and work at a food pantry. That would be impactful too.
Am I saying that I instantly and automatically became the best parent ever? No way...I’m human after all, and I lose my cool, make bad decisions, I have to apologize and backtrack. But it truly gave me a better perspective so that more often than not I do it the RIGHT way...with patience and love. Just imagine the possibilities.
And then, recently, I heard a song by Casting Crowns that gave me another perspective too. Here are few of the song’s lines:
Make it count, leave a mark, build a name for yourself
Dream your dreams, chase your heart, above all else
Make a name the world remembers...
All the kingdoms built, all the trophies won
Will crumble into dust when it’s said and done
'Cause all that really mattered
Did I live the truth to the ones I love?
Was my life the proof that there is only One
Whose name will last forever?
AND THEN THIS CAUSES ME PAUSE...IS MY PURSUIT GENUINE OR EGO?
And I, I don’t want to leave a legacy
I don’t care if they remember me
And I, I’ve only got one life to live
I’ll let every second point to Him
What is all this striving to do something BIG for? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t live our lives in pursuit of purpose...but can we do it without making ourselves nuts? Without sacrificing the relationships with those we love by being too stressed and overwhelmed and disconnected? If becoming the fastest man to run a 100 yard dash makes you happy, or creating a billion dollar company and donating large sums of money to build wells in underserved communities makes your heart hum...great! Go for it. But if you’re going Mach 10 to get a bigger house, a better car, more stuff...don’t forget...you can’t take any of it with you when you die. I say, only pursue, pursue, pursue for the joy it brings to live a full life or how it enables you to do for others. When it becomes stressful, back off. And remember to always, always, always focus on relationships more than the stuff. Because seriously...when you’re near the end...are you going to be wishing you spent one more day shopping? Or one more day connecting with your loved ones?