I would like to be remembered as someone who accomplished useful deeds, and who was a kind and loving person. I would like to leave the memory of a human being with a correct attitude and who did her best to help others. – Grace Kelly
Birthdays. Most people seem opposed to them, I’ve noticed. They try to downplay them, ignore them or hope others don’t find out about said birthday. Almost like it’s something to be ashamed of or to be treated as insignificant because they don’t think they, themselves, are that special to be recognized or celebrated.
Personally, I love my birthday. I think it should be a national holiday, thank you very much. Cake, balloons and flowers for everyone! Go ahead, enjoy! You’re welcome. Why shouldn’t I enjoy the day I came into this world? It was by Divine Design. That particular day, that particular time – everything – was by Divine Design. I was by Divine Design. My life was and is by Divine Design, so why shouldn’t I divinely appreciate and celebrate my day? Why shouldn’t you, too, divinely appreciate and celebrate yourself for that matter? You’re just as special.
Now, just for clarification, I’m not a glory hound. I don’t go around jumping out at people exclaiming “It’s my birthday! Celebrate me!!” But I don’t shy away from my birthday, either; I don’t resent my birthday or the fact that I become one year older. I do, however, have a birthday resolution that I adhere to each year. To act my shoe size and not my age. Words to live by.
There’s another aspect of my birthday that I have come to realize, one that has become more poignant for me over the years. Legacy…my legacy, in fact. I have come to see my birthday as a yearly reminder about my legacy, like a Divine nudging so to speak, in my soul that’s telling me to pay attention to what impression I’m leaving and will leave. That while my time on this earth is limited, my legacy should be timeless.
Now, I realize that the general definition of legacy refers to bequeathing one’s property or money as an inheritance to family, friends, etc., but that’s not the kind of legacy I’m talking about. No, legacy, for me, is about bequeathing something of myself, something I stood for, something I believed in, something I lived for, to those in my life.
The first time I recognized this Divine nudging, I admit I felt some serious anxiety. I felt like I had missed my window of opportunity, that I hadn’t been living up to my potential. That may seem silly, but I had a sudden sense of urgency to make sure my legacy was up to snuff. I mean, let’s face it, we will all leave a legacy – good, bad or indifferent. It’s just a matter of what we want ours to be.
But then two questions popped into my head: what exactly did I want my legacy to be and how do I make sure I’m doing it? Certainly not things that can be answered within a few minutes of intrapersonal Q&A. No, these were going to require some serious soul-searching.
For starters, I had to recognize where I was at in my life and how far I had come. I felt like I was standing at the crossroads of my life, looking back across the distance of where I had been and then looking forward at where I was going. It was very surreal.
I also considered people who have made an impression on me. What caused them to stand out from the crowd? What were their virtues, their values, their passions, their pursuits? What did they do that made a difference in the lives of others? How did their legacies become timeless?
Instantly I thought of my grandmother. She had a huge impact on me growing up. She would tell me stories about her life and her family; she impressed the value of family on me. She would also spend time with me. She always reminded me how important and loved I was. She showed me I had value. While I miss her very much, I treasure the memories I have of her and of the things she imparted to me. That’s legacy. That’s timeless.
I realized that the legacies I find worthwhile, that are timeless, are of people who love the most, care the most and share the most. They are selfless; they concern themselves with the betterment of others. They are upright in character; they are virtuous. They stand for something rather than fall for anything. They are steadfast and true.
So if these virtues, like my grandmother’s, are my examples, what then, have I done to emulate them? How have I invested in someone? How have I encouraged them? How have I spoken into their life? How have I shown them they have intrinsic value?
Children. Children are instant, “just-add-water”, legacies. They are instant the moment they come into this world and are what remains after we are gone but that’s not enough. In the moment; in the ever-present now, we…I must invest in mine. I must encourage them. I must speak into their lives. I must treasure them. I must show them they have intrinsic value. I must deeply love them. And then, prayerfully trust that those virtues will be passed down through the generations to come. That’s legacy. That’s timeless.
Looking back over my life, I realized I had been doing the legacy thing with my children after all! Whew! And now going forward, I not only get to continue that same loving relationship with them as adults but I also to get to have the same opportunity with my grandchildren. It’s all in how I cherish them. Legacy!
There’s no greater sense of satisfaction than to know that the life you lead has Divine purpose; that you have made a difference to those you love the most. Legacy comes down to character. Legacy is about the essence of the person and how they give of themselves.
What is your legacy? For what will you be remembered? If you aren’t sure, then start now. Start loving, start treasuring, start investing, start valuing, start encouraging, and become timeless.
For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. – 1 Timothy 4:8
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers. – Proverbs 17:6
The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him! – Proverbs 20:7
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. – 3 John 1:4
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8