Writing Our Own Legacy

In our younger years we are inspired and challenged by our “olders” – the adults around us who have years of life-experience and perspective we do not yet possess.  We yield to their judgment; we give ourselves a pass due to our youthful inexperience; we are content to let others bear the burdens we feel yet incapable of shouldering.

We may not think of ourselves as examples, someone others are looking to for guidance, for we are still learning.  Life seems complex, mysterious and elusive.  What direction is my career taking?  How do I raise my children to love God and goodness and truth?  What is really important, and how do I ignore the static and weed out the clutter?  Life is out there ahead of us and we’re trying to figure it out, which takes a lot of energy.

But somewhere along the way a subtle transition begins.  It may be a word spoken here, an event there, a milestone or a rite of passage.  Gradually we begin to reflect on what we have accomplished, what influence for good we have accrued, what impact we have made upon others.  And even deeper questions arise:  Is my reputation for good deserved?  Or have I merely crafted an image via smoke and mirrors?  Am I really ready to occupy the seat of “elder” (the generic kind, the one that applies to both men and women in an informal sense)?  Have I given godly momentum to my children, helped them to understand the spiritual struggle and make wise, moral, godly choices?  Have I set a consistent example for others, showing that my faith is genuine and dependable? 

Make no mistake:  the questions of life get more sobering and unsettling with age.  We realize that we have, by and large, already answered many of them, and they are gradually emerging in what we call “legacy.”  If we keep deferring to our “olders” and repeatedly excusing ourselves on the grounds of youth, life has a way of sneaking by unnoticed.  When the doctor uses the word “arthritis,” when AARP sends you a subscription form, and when your 40-year high school reunion is history – assessing your legacy is unavoidable.  And hastily making up lost ground is difficult when legacy-building is the product of a lifetime.  You are writing your story now, every day, every decision, every failure, every triumph.  Make it a book that will inspire those who read it.