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Working Through the Aftermath

In my previous post (which was directed more at looking back on my life, specifically in reference to my mother's illness with Alzheimer's). This post will be in looking forward. There were several questions left in the book I thought of addressing, but I believe the most important questions left in the book are on legacy.

"What legacy did my loved one leave?"
"What can I do to honor his/her legacy?"
"What do I want to leave as my legacy?"

When I was a young person the thought of a legacy seemed far away, remote, something elderly people leave when they have a will. Yet, as I've grown older and a bit wiser, I've learned that legacy is much more. In my opinion a legacy is how people will remember me, what mark I've left in other people, have I made a difference? Most importantly legacy is how I've lived out my life, specifically my walk with Jesus.

Once upon a time I was a careful if not passive observer of people. I studied people, such as the words they used, or their actions, even if those actions were timid or evasive. I did not though observe other people or myself in light of a legacy.
The definition of legacy in the Oxford Pocket American Dictionary is a bit benign, "a gift left in a will, or something handed down by a predecessor."
In the The Synonym Finder by J. I. Rodale. The synonym words given are: "bequest, inheritance, patrimony, bequeath, will, heritage."
I love two of these words: "heritage and inheritance". 
Heritage means, "anything that is or may be inherited."
Inheritance from the word inherit means to, "receive by legal succession, derive a quality or characteristic."

My mother's legacy to me (heritage and or inheritance) was of love and faithfulness to her family and to Jesus.
She left other important legacies as well: cooking, housecleaning, the love of reading, how to be a wife and a mother and a grandmother and a mother in-law. My mother was lady-like, gracious, sweet-tempered, gentle, and forgiving. Yet, it was her love and faithfulness that out-shone all the other traits in her character.
I could have a mind-set of honoring my mother's legacy, which I feel would be focused on giving her honor and glory. I would rather have my focus on Jesus, because He alone deserves all honor and glory and praise and I know my mother would agree.

Legacy seems like such a daunting task. A responsibility that can become entangled with material things we could leave behind for our loved ones. When we are gone and the money is spent, how will we be remembered?
Recently I read a book entitled Alone and Alive by Janet Boyanton. In her book she addressed her husbands early and sudden death, and how she and her young son lived through the grieving process as well as the difference in how their lives changed. She is an attorney and is familiar with wills and trusts, but when her own life was shocked by this sudden death, she felt the need to help other women that had gone through the same situation. In her book she talks about never missing an opportunity to tell a loved one you love them, because it maybe the last time you'll see them.
  • This is the first legacy I want to live and leave, love. I want to be remembered as a mother and wife and grandmother and sister and friend, who loved extravagantly and unconditionally. I consider myself to be an approachable person, I try to not judge, after all I too will be held accountable for the things I've done and or failed to do. More than being approachable I want to be known as a person who has loved selflessly and faithfully. Faithful is the next legacy I want to live and leave. 
  • To be faithful means I must be a person that is trustful, dependable, responsible. I don't want to be faithful in just big things, but also in the everyday small things. Those small things that in the scheme of life wouldn't stop the train (so to speak), but to my family they are important. Being faithful also means that even when someone else you love has treated you horrible, or even betrayed you, you don't get even, you persevere onwards being faithful. Being faithful means that even when you are called to do something you don't want to do, or you don't have time to do, or it is a task that will change your life, you do it anyway. Being faithful means that you are faithful not just when you want to be or on a good day, but you are faithful in all circumstances.
When I'm at the end of my life I will not look back thinking "gosh I wish I'd traveled more, or finished my college degree". Instead I will be in hopes I was faithful to the responsibilities I'd been given, and did I love with all that I had?

I can't close this without stating the most important factor in leaving a legacy of faithfulness and love. If I do these things because it make me feel puffed up with pride, or to have others brag about me after I'm gone, it would all be for naught. People eventually forget, they move on. God does not.

"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." Hebrews 6:10 NIV.
"You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20 NIV.
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:9-10 NIV.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will. for by the grace given me I say to everyone of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." Romans 12:1-3 NIV

Link @ publisher, with ability to read sample chapter:

Link for previous post of mine Working Through the Aftermath:

Link for my review of Aftermath by Margaret McSweeney:


Becky said…
What a great post!