When your life has come to an end, what do you want your legacy to be?
I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately. My opening course in seminary focuses on understanding what it means to be “called” to vocations or situations in life, and the emphasis is on understanding the deepest desires of our hearts.
I don’t think this is an exhaustive source for determining our “callings,” but it’s surely an important one.
It puts life in perspective. If I’m lucky, I have 70 – 80 years or so at this shindig before I call it quits. So, what do I want my mark to be?
There’s room for a lot of psychological damage to poke its head out when asking yourself this question. For me, the temptation is to want to make some significant contribution to civilization, in part for the unhealthy reason that I seek validation for my existence from the judgment of history (which is often wrong due to bias!).
Getting beyond egomaniacl delusions, though, what do you want your legacy to be for those who knew you; for the family you leave behind?
It shines our everyday decisions and actions in a different light, doesn’t it?
Do I want to be remembered as a guy who lived life for himself or for pleasure? Who kept to himself and held others at arms length? As someone who gave of himself to the point of a burnout or breakdown?
I’ve been all these things. I still am these things sometimes.
I think letting the weight of these thoughts press you down in despair is a temptation but also a mistake. We won’t control how we’re remembered when we’re gone. And all we can do is the best we can with the hand we’ve been dealt. Don’t be burdened.
And I guess that’s basically what I want my legacy to be – David did the best he could to serve God and others. He made mistakes and he didn’t do things perfectly, but he did his best to rely on God and not himself. It surely wasn’t always “good enough,” whatever that may be, for those impacted by him the most. But he tried.
He tried to rest in grace; he tried to let go.
He asked for help. He didn’t try to be a superman.
And I hope my daughter will know I loved her deeply and looked out for her best interest as shown by my time, my words, my actions, and my attention.
I hope it will be said my ultimate focus was to try to do what God wanted me to, as much as I often missed the mark; that I contributed something positive to the Kingdom, something that covered over the damage I did.
Whether my life lasts another 100 years, 50, 40, five, or ends unexpectedly next week, these are my hopes.
Not in fame, not in fortune, not in pleasure, not in living for the moment…all these things pass. There is no hope to be found there.
My hope is in the non-tangible. Legacy; love; ultimately God.
I hope He is real, as I think He is. I hope He really does love me; really does forgive me; really does have my life in His hands and care.
I choose to trust as best I can and carry on. I hope that is enough.