The other day my grown daughter commented, “Mom, you are always writing for someone else, why don’t you write for your family?” She proceeded to remind me about some children’s books I had started years ago when she was growing up. Since then, her words keep ringing in my ears. It got me questioning, “Why am I writing?” How about you?
Why do you write? Who do you want to read your words? It’s not an easy answer. It takes some soul searching. I pondered, “Am I seeking recognition from others?” Or to feel good about myself because I made someone else feel good?” The truth is, there are far more people that will forget who I am than those who will remember me. But to my family, I’m pretty important. Especially to my young, impressionable grandchildren! I am blessed! You are important too!
In this busy world, we strive to make a name for ourselves, to make our lives matter. While you may not know it yet, your life already matters. It matters now and for generations that will come after you. Your children’s children, and their children may want to know what you were like. They will seek to glean what they can learn from your life, your struggles, your successes, your values, your faith. They will wonder what qualities or characteristics of yours are similar to theirs. Your life, good or bad, is a great teacher.
My husband has a journal from his great grandmother, Lucy, who lived from 1878 to 1960. It is entitled: “Seventy Years of Living.” It is profoundly interesting reading about what life was like, but not nearly as interesting as the lessons we learned from her life and the characteristics I see present in her great, great grandson! We learned of a young couple who were intent on building a farm and a lifestyle. They were entrepreneur types always expanding at great financial risk. Unfortunately, they borrowed rather than saved to have the things they thought they needed. They were particularly impressed with the latest and greatest inventions of the time—like a flush toilet for example! Dean’s great uncle, the oldest of the children, complained he’d have to run upstairs and refill it with water every time anyone flushed! Funny? Not so very much. They lost the farm. But they endured and that’s the real lesson.
On another occasion, we were cleaning out his grandmother’s attic and discovered a gorgeous family photo album. As we looked through the obviously well-preserved document of history, nameless faces stared back. Not a single photo was named or dated. It was meaningless to us! It might as well have been a book of strangers! We passed it on to another relative who didn’t know them either. Our children will never know who from that side of the family they might resemble. Please, label your pictures! Someone will appreciate it one day.
What legacy are you leaving? What treasures of knowledge are you passing forward? Are you being intentional about making a historical record? If so, don’t leave it as a file in your computer! Who is going to search through that thing to find your treasures after you pass? Print out those stories. Never mind if you don’t have archival paper! My husband’s great grandmother Lucy’s journal was a typewritten carbon copy on cheap paper and it’s still holding up! Print it out and pass it out, that’s the way to back up your documents!
Interestingly, the end of Lucy’s journal reads: “But I will do my very best to accept whatever is to be my future, with all the cheerfulness and fortitude possible. I only ask that I may be able to keep what little mentality I have, and care for myself to the end of my days—but I will try to say—Thy will, not mine.” After living a full life having gained and lost, she concluded that was her most important lesson in life was to trust God.
I’ve determined I want to leave a legacy of faith for the next generation. I want my grandchildren, and future great grandchildren to know they have been born into not just a Christian heritage, but into a family that knows and loves God. I want them to know the faithfulness of God in providing for us, of trusting when you can’t see the reason, and our deep love for them even though we don’t know all of them yet! We want them to know we are praying it forward for them. What will future generations read about your life?