What legacy will you leave behind? Are you appreciating what is right in front of you? Will your legacy be one of heart, hope, and health?
In March, my family celebrates 3 birthdays within one week. This year, my precious nephew was welcomed into the world. Days later my daughter turned 10. Being double-digits is a big deal in the kid world, in case you didn’t know. Right after my daughter’s birthday, we celebrated my grandma (who has been double-digits for a few years now). These special moments left me pondering just how precious life is.
For my nephew, at this time last year, he was just a desire in his parents’ hearts. March of 2021, he wasn’t created yet. No heartbeat. No flutters of baby kicks in her stomach. And yet, here he is, a treasured and loved member of our family. On the other end of the spectrum is my grandma who has shown me so much love in my life. I remember her tucking me in when I would sleepover at her house. She always scratched my back during church when I was little. She made me my favorite birthday meal each year, and nobody cooks as well as my grandma. As she celebrated turning 88, my family was thankful for the times we have with her. Each visit is a reminder that time is precious and not to be taken for granted. I realize it is a privilege not everyone gets that their children get to know their great grandparents.
What You Do Counts.
Life occurs on a spectrum but has a distinct beginning and a finite ending. It’s what we do between those two points that counts. How are you living your life? What impact are you making on those around you or the world around you? I think it is easy to buy into the idea that we always have more time to do something later on. However, a pandemic, natural disasters, and military operations overseas are stark reminders that we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.
When I think about the legacy I want to leave, it has nothing to do with money or things. More than anything, I want to be remembered as someone who loves Jesus and loves others. I have a sign in my office with the quote from Mother Teresa, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” What do you want to be remembered for? Once you answer that question, start taking steps right now to have that be your way of life.
I hear so many people discouraged about situations in our country and world. It can be overwhelming when it seems that each day brings another heart-breaking news story. Then I remember what Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” When things get difficult, you and I can be the helpers. There are many ways to get involved in making a positive impact.
Serve in your local church.
In many church bodies there are a handful of people who are doing a lot of the work. There are many ways to serve, so you don’t have to just serve out of obligation. Passionate about music? Be a part of the worship team. Enjoy being around children? Sign up for nursery. Like cooking? Bring meals to shut-ins. Think it is fun to meet new people? Join the greeting team. If nothing comes to mind, just ask your pastor if there is anything you can do to help out. I highly doubt that church staff are in the habit of turning down volunteers.
Focus on your family.
Jesus knew that family was important. He talked of honoring parents and caring for children. Your family may be huge and live close to one another. That would seem to make it easier to have an impact on one another. However, there are ways to stay connected across the miles these days.
My kids video chat with my grandparents, and one time my daughter put filters on the video chat. She and my grandma laughed so hard together. One of my favorite memories will always be of my grandpa laying on the floor with my son, looking at his coin collection and explaining the stories of how he got them and the significance of each coin. Regardless of your age or the miles between you, you can still be an encouragement to your family.
Look around your neighborhood.
It’s easy to rush in and out of the house and not get to know the people we live close to. Simple acts can show those around us that we care. Lending a tool. Scooping a driveway. There are so many ways to help one another and leave a legacy of service.
I used to live near an elderly widow. When I would make a crockpot soup or meal, I would take some to her. They were often meals that she enjoyed but would never make because it would be way too much food for one person. In turn, I knew that she always watched out the window as my son got off the bus and would be home if an emergency came up in the 45 minutes between when he got home from school and I returned from work. Just her presence nearby made me feel better when I knew that my son was home by himself, but that was because she had made an effort to get to know us. She introduced herself when we moved in. She smiled and waved when we walked by. We would chat on her porch on summer evenings occasionally. My neighbor probably had no idea how meaningful her simple, kind actions meant to me.
Volunteer in a community organization.
Wherever you live, there are many nonprofits doing remarkable work to serve the community. With a quick google search, you could find an organization that you could bless with your time and talents. Shameless plug: If you happen to live in the Cedar Rapids area, I happen to work at a phenomenal organization that relies heavily on volunteers.
We always welcome individuals with a medical background to volunteer. However, we have non-medical volunteers who do administrative work, pray with patients, or complete special one-time projects. If you have a desire to get involved in your community, and you feel that our clinic is the place to do so, we will find a meaningful way for you to volunteer. And, if our clinic isn’t the right place for you, there are so many organizations serving worthwhile causes in our area. It can be a great inter-generational activity as well. Then you could combine family time with community impact.
What legacy will you leave?
We each get one life. It is up to us to decide how we are going to spend our time here on earth. What will be your legacy? Our world can use more people showing kindness and love and going out of their way to make a positive impact on the lives of those around them. So hug your loved ones tight. Celebrate those milestones, be it the 10th or the 88th birthday. Get involved in one way or another to help those around you. Your life and legacy will be fuller and richer for doing so.