Maybe it’s because I am getting older, but I’ve been thinking a lot these days about legacy. It takes a life time to build and - by one simple choice - can come crashing down. I want to leave something behind that is good; something that my kids will say “That’s who Mom was…”
I have been reminded of late how foolish we can be with our words and actions, and the profound damage they can do. People can be cruel. Rather than empathy or apology, it’s expected that we will just “suck it up and deal with it.”
Unfortunately, especially when it comes to the heart, it doesn’t work that way.
One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from Maya Angelou who said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The wisdom in these beautiful words rival King Solomon’s to the point that I think they should be added to Proverbs. Seriously.
The problem is, I sometimes remember them too late. The thought comes after I devolve into a snarky retort, firing off at someone that I love when they aren’t responding as I would like, or when they have disappointed me somehow. I get stuck, ruminating on how they are making me feel and then triggering so that I nip them right back.
Not exactly turning the other cheek.
The truth is, it’s hard. We live in an age when texting and Siri can communicate for us. Add a little emoji and it’s like a cherry on top. Everyone should be happy, right?
What Moses could have done with this technology! He could have gone up the mountain and, just as a formality, God could have said to him, “Hey Moses, check your inbox. I just downloaded the Ten Commandments.”
He didn’t though. He did things the old fashioned way. God wanted to make sure we got it down, even if it took Moses forty days and forty nights. He wanted us to know that there are simple rules to guide us, and they are put there for our good.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to doing the right thing. When we want to convey that we care about someone, it takes time and the building of trust. True connection does not happen over wifi. It happens when we demonstrate that our walk and our talk are congruent. It happens when we are willing to make someone feel loved and appreciated at the risk of not having it given in return.
God cared enough to teach us that the best things in life come from the heart. We’re supposed to let it lead us. Through our words and actions, people are supposed to see Him. We’re supposed to give to others the same grace and mercy that He gives to us.
If only everyone would take the time to read the memo.
I’ve had to remind myself of late, that there is never a reason good enough to break another’s heart, to cause someone to feel unworthy of respect, to devalue another in order to gain a perceived benefit.
Still, it happens to us all and, sadly, we can mess up and do the same to others.
Solomon and Maya could both preach a thing or two on how shortsighted - how unwise - this can be.
God would want us to know that when we disregard another, we disregard Him. We are all God’s children. We are all worthy of love, kindness, empathy and respect. Sometimes the most broken among us are the ones who, by their treatment of us, signal something greater than our capacity to understand.
We have a choice to make. What do we want our legacy to be?
I want to be mindful that my words and actions are not another person's fault. They belong to me. I am accountable. And when someone hurts me, even though it doesn’t make me feel good, I have to give it to God and know that He already has that person in His sight. He’s already got a plan to bring them back to Himself somehow.
None of this is easy. It requires a daily, constant reminder - especially when we are hurting - that God loves us and despite what things look like, because we’re His, we can rise above our feelings and keep walking in His ways.
If we keep this one, single thought before us, we will gain, not only grace, but wisdom. We will feel His love even when it seems at times that others have little to give.
That’s the legacy I want.