I grew up in a family where story was important. My South African, Jewish and Irish ancestors were all about honouring the courage of the previous generations. These were men and women who didn’t just survive but made hard choices and because of them helped their country, themselves or their families towards brighter futures. These accounts were always told with awe, great detail and self-depreciating humour. There were stories of escape, war time bravery, name changing to avoid persecution, self-sacrifice and long journeys across oceans. Each character inspired me …..and as I look at the fabric of my life can see their stories deeply intertwined with who I am today.
So when Lisa-Jo Baker in her blog asked: “How do we moms want our kids to remember us?” it got me thinking about what I remember most about my Mom and what legacy I am leaving my own children?
The greatest bequest my Mom left me was the understanding that relationships were more important than being right, that living a life of forgiving others and loving (in spite of hurts) allows one more freedom. Then there was her courage to try new things, and fail, which was also so evident in the way she did life. These characteristics, coupled with a wonderful ability to tell stories and laugh at herself made her a special friend and a fun person to be around. I long for more of these qualities in myself and hope that somewhere a glimmer of her outlook is passed down beyond me to the next generation.
My kids are old enough for me to ask them what they think the lasting impact my life (so far) will have had on theirs…. and so I sound them out slightly and there are no huge surprises… …They know I am terrible with money, a demented back-seat driver, cannot read instructions, get my left muddled with my right and can drive them crazy with some of my more controlling behaviours. These are the things they laugh about when they are with one another. On a positive note, they say I have taught them to value people and their stories. I have stood up to injustice and moved in a direction not necessarily embraced my family and peers. This they admire as they struggle with their own issues of identity and fitting in. They have found it uncomfortable at times but through my example (and messes) have come to understand that having authentic relationships is worth the journey of open, honest communication and pain. Each one of their lives has, both positively and negatively, been impacted by my journey of church and faith. We don’t talk about this today but I hope that my transparency in wrestling with my faith will be the greatest legacy I leave behind: where our kids understand they have the freedom to question and struggle with the complexities of believing and still have a deep, intimate and personal relationship their heavenly Dad.