What will your legacy be? (Part 2)

October 21, 2007 at 11:26 pm | Posted in Legacy | 2 Comments
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happy-boys_000004399705small.jpgThe struggles in our lives can be viewed as obstacles that prevent us from being all we’re created to be . . . or they can be seen as a springboard for our discovery of new meaning and fulfillment. Perhaps, you’re already in the second camp. If not, you may want to consider changing your perception, as I did.

The desire to change generally takes hold in a serious way when you become sick and tired enough of some repetitive event or feeling, i.e., continually getting your heart broken . . . feeling as though you’re a miserable failure because you’re not “perfect” . . . never having a moment to yourself . . . being desperately afraid that your kids will end up with the same issues you have.

That last one — fear that my legacy for my son and daughter would be primarily sorrow — was the motivation I needed 15 years ago to seek a new approach to life.

My transformational process was lengthy and complex, as it is for most people, and involved supportive friends and professionals, experiential learning, journaling, and some important reading. In fact, my change process actually began when I read “Kids Who Carry Our Pain: Breaking the Cycle of Codependency for the Next Generation” by Robert Hemfelt and Paul Warren. This book helped me realize how vital it was to address my lifelong relational hang-ups so I could minimize damage to my children.

This is when I recognized, with the encouragement of others I trusted, that I could let the brokenness of my past inspire me to embrace wholeness and hope instead. It wasn’t an easy growth process, and because I’m human I sure don’t feel whole or hopeful 100% of the time. But I’m committed to ongoing development of a legacy of relational health for my kids and the others in my circle of influence. This approach makes all the difference in my life, my marriage, my parenting, and the work I’m called to do.

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What will your legacy be? (Part 1)

October 10, 2007 at 2:31 pm | Posted in Legacy | 3 Comments
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My mom recently celebrated her 80th birthday with a backyard get-together for about 50 of her closest friends and family. It was a lot of fun for me, my mom, and step-dad (and, I think, for everyone else) to visit with people from the different seasons of my mother’s life, including her church groups, community volunteer activities, and career in college administration.

Clearly, one of the elements that anchors my mother’s life is relational connection; she still has active friendships with people she’s known for nearly 70 years. Her high value for sustained relationship is a legacy my mom has passed on to me, and it’s had a significant impact on my life choices.

What, then, is the legacy I will pass on to those in my influence? It’s definitely a mixed bag, which I’ll explore further in Part 2 of this legacy series.

I heard two stories today that illustrate very different types of legacies. The first came from a friend whose son is currently stationed in Iraq. This father told me his son is now in the habit of gathering his squad in a circle and asking everyone to hold hands so they can pray together before they leave on patrol. I happen to know this is the kind of courageous faith and leadership that’s been modeled by this young man’s father.

The second story came from another friend whose mother was frighteningly abusive. When my friend was a little girl her mother would sometimes rage uncontrollably at her simply because she disturbed her mother’s concentration. One of the legacies left to my friend was that for many years she felt like a non-person. She’s worked for a long time to develop her sense of wholeness and self-worth, to un-do the power of her mother’s legacy.

We have such a precious opportunity to leave a legacy of emotional health and hope for those we influence. While we can seldom select the legacy we inherit, we can choose a great deal of the legacy we leave to others. What will yours be?

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