We’re three weeks into January, which is about the time that New Year’s resolutions everywhere start losing their luster. The third week of January is far enough into the year that the “fresh start” feeling has begun wearing off and the “Oh crap, you mean life still happens?” realizations start effecting our decisions.
Maybe not. Maybe for you, you’re killing this “brand new year, brand new me” thing and telling me inwardly to speak for myself..
OR MAYBE you’re the one that gave up three days into the year, and you’re so thankful that others are willing to admit they’ve joined the club.
Regardless of where you are, January has me thinking about legacy.
A little while ago, the rug was pulled out from under my feet. You know those times? The blindsided ones where something happens that you would have never predicted, let alone prepared for. The ones that squish every single egg in that basket of yours and leave you wondering if you’ll ever be brave enough to invest again.
I felt locked in a room with more pain and disappointment than I thought I could hold. It seemed like I was being forced to brave a storm, nearly against my will, that I didn’t sign up for, and I would have gladly taken one of those “get out of doing hard things” free cards.
During that time, the Lord started talking to me about legacy. In the midst of pain and confusion, I heard him say “Describe the person you want to be. Think of all the things you’ll want to teach your children. Dream of the paths you want to forge for the generations after you. Think of where you want to pour your hard work so that things that were hard for you will be easy for them. Make the list now, because there will be moments ahead that you will be tempted to live lower. Make the list now, so that instead of reacting to your circumstances, you can hold them to standards you have already set.”
My legacy looked something like this:
I will love when it hurts.
I will forgive when it’s hard.
I will have integrity when it matters, and when the fire of life comes, I will step up and not shrink back.
I will generously give love and acceptance to everyone, whether they act like they need it or not, because everyone needs it.
I will treat each person equally regardless of the title they hold or the reputation that have.
I will have hard conversations quickly instead of burying conflict, hoping that it goes away.
I will take the extra time to communicate well and tend to the hearts I am connected to.
I will assume the best about people whether or not it is convenient.
I will live a life of thankfulness.
I will proclaim the goodness and the good intentions of God.
I will make decisions based upon the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Lionhearted and gracious is how I will live.
Making a list doesn’t seal the deal. We fail because we’re human (especially me, with the whole ‘conflict’ thing).
…but I think so often that God is about the little things. So often, it’s more about putting the shopping cart back or picking up the trash. So often, it’s about the attitude of our hearts and not the outward response everyone sees. Our stories are made up of a million little moments where we choose to do the right thing, often when no one is looking.
“Then Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” Gen 15:6
“It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God, for she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” Heb 11:30
The invitation in legacy is this: You are not simply doing the hard thing to be deemed ‘right’ or ‘acceptable’ or even to remain holy. Your moment-by-moment is not just about you; it is honor and worship to God. In addition, you are preparing the way for generations after you. Build that ceiling as high as you can, because it will surely be their floor. They will eat of the harvest you’ve been planting, just as we have been benefiting from all of the hard work generations before us have done.
If I forgive well in the moments where I am tempted to harbor bitterness, it will create a grudge free culture in my life. My grudge free culture will one day be second nature in the lives of my children, where restoration and letting go are easily embraced because they have been practiced over and over.
What does your legacy look like? What are the standards you want to live by, even in the moments you don’t feel like it? At the end of your life, what do you want others to say about you and your family?
(PS I REALLY WANNA KNOW so send me your legacies! email@example.com)