There is something deep inside human beings that wants to leave something of importance behind after we are gone.
This innate desire has inspired architects and musicians, artists and scientists to create, invent and discover. Museums and history books are filled with artistic, political, military and scientific legacies that still impact the world today.
My husband is an architectural technician who worked in the town of Windsor for the first years of his career. I like to walk past the buildings that I know he did the drawings for and sometimes I feel a tinge of jealousy. It is a wonderful accomplishment to have created something that stands for others to see and admire, something that will keep standing probably long after you are not.
But whether you are a world-famous artist whose creations are appreciated by millions or a stay-at-home mom whose accomplishments are less tangible, we all produce legacies.
We tend to think of legacy as what is left behind after death like keepsakes, photos, heirlooms or trust funds. But even during our life, we leave things behind all the time. We just aren’t always aware of it.
Every time I open my mouth, I leave a kind of legacy. The words I speak are sometimes remembered long after they have been spoken. Words have the power to build up or tear down. They can restore hope or dash it. With just a sentence I can encourage a friend to believe again for a miracle or lift the spirits of a tired leader. Words can reassure someone who is feeling left out and make them feel like they belong. Or words can cut someone’s legs right out from under them.
And either way, I am leaving a legacy.
I can be known as a woman who thinks the best of people or one who likes to assassinate characters over coffee. I can build a reputation as someone who welcomes and includes newcomers or as someone who always plays it safe and sticks with my usual gang.
I can give this world one more professional griper, always critiquing others as part of my Sunday lunch, or I can extend gratefulness, grace and understanding of which there is a great shortage.
When I was a little girl I used to visit my grandparents on the East Coast every summer. I can still remember watching my grandmother get ready to go out for dinner, choosing clothes and jewellery and scent. She was a quirky lady and loved men’s cologne and the woody, musky scent would linger long after she left the room.
You and I have an essence, a fragrance, and we bring it with us wherever we go, whether we are aware of it or not. It is who we are and it lingers after we leave a room.
It is how people are left feeling after they have spent time with us.
And it is totally within our power to choose what this fragrance is. We choose what we are known for. We choose our legacy by how we spend our time and energy and how we treat the people in our lives.
We decide each and every day whether we are loyal or flaky, kind or brittle, empathetic or cold, forgiving or offended. We will be known by our character and our character is being formed by each and every decision and reaction we have.
Let’s decide today that we will choose a legacy that is worthy of the King we follow.
And let’s determine that every time we leave a room, we will leave behind the essence of Jesus and nothing less.
‘The memory of the man or woman who is righteous is a legacy to the world. The name of the wicked just decays.’ Proverbs 10.7