What does the word legacy mean to you? Does it mean material possessions? Monetary inheritance? Following your father’s footsteps?
To me – it brings to mind many things. My grandparents, my relatives, seeing my biological lineage as I trace the family tree over the years. It also conjures images in my mind of a “life well lived,” defining how that phrase impacts your everyday decisions . To some, perhaps, it simply means what you leave behind. Looking up “legacy” in the dictionary finds, “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor. “ No matter what your definition, we all deeply desire to leave something behind, something that resonates for generations: I was here.
To some, it’s leaving stuff, objects, or things, material possessions to be distributed as your will states; but leaving a true legacy is more than that. More than material things or financial holdings. It is much greater than any and all the “stuff” you may have accumulated.
Your legacy is the parts of you – your sweet kindness, your special life, your unique views, your unwavering faith, your contagious passion, your distinct example, your irreplaceable words, your life well lived – that continues to live on when your physical body departs.
A legacy left is a precious gift.
A gift that continues to give for generations.
A standard set, a role model to follow, a life to exemplify.
This is legacy.
To build a marriage for thirty five years is a legacy. A legacy of love, life, joy, struggles, victories, and defeats. Today, my parents celebrate this milestone. Thirty-five years. Truly a legacy not to be regarded lightly, but to be celebrated, rejoiced in, and for which to aspire.
I thought I grasped the depth of this momentous occasion in the years prior to this with every great anniversary milestone – ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty — but this thirty-five seems unique, special, precious. Perhaps because it comes just over a year into my own marriage. Perhaps because as I reflect on the years past, the years to come, and what a life well lived looks like to me, I realize the depth of commitment that thirty-five years signifies, what it demonstrates, what it imparts.
This is legacy.
My parents have built theirs for thirty-five years, and I pray they will continue for at least another thirty-five. While they have built this legacy of marriage, of life – my parents have created a lineage of children who esteem not only the covenant and holiness of marriage, but also other traits they have taught us and personified like faith, love, kindness, communication, commitment, caring, hospitality, determination, drive, and the ability to be truly thankful.
They would be the first to admit they are two imperfect humans doing the best they can, that life and marriage are messy sometimes like rainbow crayons scribbled on a white wall, and in other times, its teeth-gritting, muscle straining toil. But the valleys don’t last forever, and the mountaintop breezes bring joy, renewal, and sweet memories to be made as do the magical, mundane days of everyday life with a partner, a companion, a shelter in the midst of life’s storms.
This is legacy.
In the fire and in the sunshine, in the lightning and the springtimes – they built.
When tragedy struck, skies turned dark — they built.
When others said you’ll never make it, and conflict threatened to drown them — they built.
When their children caused tears to run down their faces or joy to burst from their hearts — they built.
When the road stretched out forever before them, only to curve in the most unexpected places — they built.
When disappointment and darkness reigned — they built.
When the light finally came — joyfully, gratefully — they built.
And they continue to build.
Through the sorrow, the smiles, the everyday and the extraordinary —
They create legacy.
Their legacy is one I will strive to emulate and contribute to every day of my life, not only in my marriage, but in my commitment to my faith, my hospitality toward others, in my caring and compassion at work, in my drive to achieve and grow, in finding my joy in Christ. All of this I have watched my parents build and strive for, fall short of and get back up again, admitting mistakes, standing tall, rising with grace, trying again.
This is their legacy.
And I hope to always honor it by making it mine.
Dedicated to My Parents – Happy 35th Anniversary. From Jesus and from both of you, I receive the greatest gifts of grace and love…unconditionally. Thank you for building not only a legacy in marriage, but also a legacy of two lives well lived, which will inspire your children and grandchildren for generations. I love you.
P.S. Please go somewhere nice today to celebrate…fast food doesn’t count 😉