Living the legacy I want to leave, even in the darkest times. While this is the most grueling and painful way I will live out my legacy, I believe it may be the most important.
My parents have done and Daddy continues to do an amazing job at this. The way they lived/live day to day taught me more than words ever could. Many of those lessons weren’t ones they would have chosen to teach. Like how to grieve.
When we lost my brother I watched them go through all the stages of grief. The loss of their only son put them on a long and excruciating journey that won’t end on this side of eternity. But it’s a journey that eventually brought out their beautiful and tender sides. Broken. Forever changed. But not cynical and bitter. I’m fairly certain I couldn’t do the same. But I watched them. And I remembered their journey when just five years later Mom left this earth quite suddenly and all the light went out of my world for a long time.
The dark times are the hardest times to live my legacy. My natural knee-jerk reaction to pain is to kick and scream and curse and numb myself. And I’ve done those things more than once, but always in the back of my mind I knew I was leaving someone else with my anger, bitterness, harshness and even my addiction. Someone is always watching, whether you’re a parent or not, there is always someone watching. Someone who needs you to first be honest with your pain but eventually to move through it. (I don’t for a moment believe in stuffing your pain and pretending it’s not there. My favorite book when grieving my little brother and my precious mother was A Grief Observed. C.S. Lewis was brutal in his honesty with God and that helped me with my own anger and doubt.)
If we live for very long we’ll experience grief, financial devastation, illness, unanswered prayers, disappointment with God, even a loss of faith. The legacy we leave isn’t in escaping the dark times; it’s how we respond while in those dark times. I have a good friend from the blogosphere, Sara, aka, Gitz (her blog is Gitzen Girl) Gitz has a profound impact on my life and I feel a strong connection to her although I’ve never met her face to face. She lives with Spondylitis. Here is her explanation of the disease…” it is an autoimmune disease that usually starts in your early twenties and begins by attacking your joints. It is progressive and systemic,…” (Read more about Spondylitis here.)
Gitz lives with pain. Every day. She inspires me to look for the beauty and grace in my world. She brings life and joy to the shadowy places in my days. When I found her I was still neck deep in suffocating grief after losing my mom, Watching Gitz live her amazing life was key in lifting me out of a self destructive pit. She’s honest and thoughtful and that young woman is living a beautiful legacy. I’m changed forever because of the life she lives and so honored to know her.
I didn’t want to write this. It’s hard for me as I’ve failed time and time again. But buried deep in my heart is the prayer that if and when my journey leads me into the dark, I will even there, live the legacy I want to leave.