Our words matter, yeah? So how can we use them to leave a legacy? Scripture calls us to share what God has done in our lives with the next generation, to tell the stories of God’s mighty acts (Psalm 145:4), so this month we’re going to come together each Wednesday to talk about legacy.
We’ll talk about the lessons learned from our mothers and grandmothers, the important role women play in leaving these legacies, and how we’re choosing to share our God-stories with the next generation — something we’re all called to do. And each week we’ll share a Community Challenge to do together as we work through “The Courage to Leave a Legacy,” so be sure to read all the way to the end and join us in the comments!
I had been waiting for her nine months plus 29 years. She didn’t disappoint, this squishy little bundle. When the professionals swaddled her — tiny body coned in a hospital-issued blanket with a delectable scoop of baby face — I remember thinking: She looks just like an ice cream cone.
I studied her features like I was preparing for final exams. Rosy cheeks. Ruby lips. Eyes wizened and serious, she already knew things I didn’t. I was slain by the depth of this new love, stunned by the miracle of birth.
For the first time, I absorbed the miracle of it all. How had I missed it before?
I wanted to awaken my family and friends and shake every stranger from their slumber to see it too, certain no one properly understand this new-to-me revelation: God constructed a woman’s body to incubate a tiny human, and how we stop seeing the incomprehensible wonder of living inside another person for nine months is downright scandalous!
It was a daughter, my firstborn, who made me a mother. From the moment of conception she began changing me from the inside out, a remarkable process that I’ve learned, once started, never ends.
In those first days after her birth, I found myself missing my own mother in new ways. I thought I had extinguished all avenues of grief from having lost her so young — that demon, cancer, took her when I was just nine — but I discovered a new mourning at Rachel’s birth and in the years to come — longing to know how Mama felt when my siblings and I were born, wanting to understand all the things that informed the way she parented us. I imagined what it would be like to talk to her as an adult, and I wanted Mama to know how well her babies turned out, and then what amazing grandchildren she had.
Last year to audition for Atlanta’s inaugural Listen To Your Mother Show, I began chronicling Mama’s impact in my life. For perhaps the first time, I realized the degree to which she influenced the way I mothered my own children. What I learned wasn’t a result of Mama telling me how to be a mother; she simply led by example.
- The way she dreamed big with me taught me how to affirm my children’s value, talents, and intrinsic beauty, helping them to see possibility and future potential.
- Because her time was limited, she knew there were things we needed to discuss. Rather than leaving those conversations to others — I mean hard things like illness and death and sex — she tackled them head on, assuming the privilege of being the one to first shape our perspective.
- Mama taught me to resist racial prejudice by loving and serving people who were different from us. I don’t recall her ever mentioning there was a difference.
- She taught me courage by fighting for her life, never giving up hope, and praying for miracles.
In her death at only 38, she taught me lessons in aging gracefully and something I believe even if I don’t always feel it:
Age is the price we pay for life and it’s not a privilege everyone has.
It’s natural for me to revisit these thoughts with Mother’s Day just around the corner, but this year is already different.
On Saturday my firstborn will graduate college, and two weeks after that, the youngest of our three will graduate high school. The babies who made me a mother will now make me an empty nester.
Friends and family keep checking on me; I suppose they’re worried I’m curled in the fetal position sucking my thumb in the corner of the closet because of the double whammy. Yes, the season I’ve lived for 22 years will shift into a new one, but I’m raising the half full glass to tell you It…is…good. Maybe I’m in denial or it will hit me harder later, but for now all I can think is this is as it should be. These precious years aren’t meant to last forever! My children have had the benefit of a two-parent family, access to education, physical and mental health; riches not every child has. Parenting with an open hand is evidence I trust the Lord and His plans for them.
This is not loss, it is stepping over a threshold to new adventure; but to do so, I must let go of what was to grab what will be.
Isn’t that the crux of the Gospel? To let go of who we were apart from Jesus and receive who we are as a child of God? Following Christ often requires letting go of good or familiar things to trust God in His promises for better things. His best for us.
That’s not to say I don’t have my moments. They strike without warning, and I can’t predict what will turn on the waterworks — like making a peanut butter sandwich for my baby–REALLY?!
Maybe you’re launching a son or a daughter for the first time, and you’re tempted to sink into regret, or lament the things you never got around to doing. Perhaps you’re assuming responsibility for your children’s imperfect choices which leaves you feeling like a failure. If you’re tempted to focus on motherhood “failures” or that you need more time to “get it right,” consider my sweet Mama and what she accomplished in only nine years.
Trust me, lovies, everything you’re pouring into your children is shaping a beautiful legacy.
Community Challenge: We’d love to hear from you today about a special woman God has placed in your life and how her legacy has impacted your life. Whether you’ve known her your whole life or only had a few short years together, let’s celebrate and honor her together today!Leave a Comment