Today is July 13, 2012. Forty-three years ago today, I entered into this world as a wrinkly six pound bundle of energy with a healthy set of lungs. With my purpose yet to be discovered, I had begun the journey of life! Today, add 130 pounds and take away some of the energy, I am a 43 year old mother of an eight year old boy with Aspergers, Tourettes Syndrome and ADHD. Recently married to a wonderful man whom I grew up with and faithfully choosing to try to imitate Christ in my life, I sit here and reflect on my past challenges and successes and question exactly what legacy I want to leave for my son, Alexander.
With today’s blog, I had full intention of taking a trip down technology lane to compare the huge advancements in electronics from the time I was a child to today’s digital world. I had planned on cleverly and humorously comparing my old Atari Pong game to today’s video games. I was going to refer to my experience of the first huge “brick” cell phone, watching beta videos, listening to 8-track tapes, using a big ugly brown box television converter to watch only cable TV, having to dial a 1-800 number on a rotary phone, and having to use a heavy typewriter in which the typing arms, each possessing its own letter, number or character, would continually get jammed together. Although the comparison is fun, most of today’s children and youth would have no understanding of just how lucky they are and just how far we have come as a society in general.
Most children today, including my son, have this sense of entitlement that has not been earned, and have no concept of true appreciation and thankfulness for how much they have, that they didn’t have to work for. It is this selfish mentality that will have very little impact on creating a better world and positively affecting the generations that follow.
As a parent who is primarily responsible for laying that solid foundation and setting a positive example for my son, I began thinking about exactly what my son will value and cherish after I’m gone. Will the things he considers important be due to their intrinsic value or will he treasure them because of the memory and experience attached to it? When God takes me home, will the things I leave behind for my son to sort through as evidence of a life I once lived have meaningful value for my son? That tattered little lamb that first greeted him on the day he was born? The scratched “night night” CD that we always listened to together? The big queen size bed on which there were too many tickle fights to count? His laminated art work from grade 3? The endless number of photos of us experiencing life together and sharing our love and laughter? The time we bought Chinese food for a homeless woman? The endless hours spent on the phone trying to comfort a distraught friend? Will my life have been a good example for him?
As parents, we don’t often realize how the legacy of our values – both positive and negative – endure in our children. We are becoming more and more conditioned to put emphasis on outward possessions and accomplishments rather than the condition of our hearts. I do not want my son to determine the quality of his life based on what he has rather than what he’s invested of himself in the people around him. We are all guilty of being selfish and self-absorbed. We are all familiar with justifying why we are entitled to get what we want and say what we feel. However, this self-focused mentality will only continue to breed another selfish generation. You will leave an impression in the lives of your children, guaranteed. It’s up to us as parents to decide just what we want that impression to be.
So, with that being said, I challenged myself. I challenged myself to take a good hard look at the condition of my heart. I realized just how often I think about myself. Just how many times I focus on what I need to do to get ahead in life and add more to what I already have. I remember the times I would look at neighbours and friends with envy because of things they have that I don’t. If I truly want to have a positive affect on my son and this world, it is time that I start thinking and acting in ways that serve others, rather than being so focused on my own needs and desires that I fail to impact even my closest friend.
I extend this challenge to you as well. Think about people you deal with or see on a weekly basis. Do you know any acquaintances or neighbours that are sick? Do you know of an individual that struggles to make it from day to day? Are any of your co-workers going through hardships? Are there any individuals around you that could use assistance? Most likely there are, but we have been so focused on ourselves and our own agendas that our ability to notice these people has been limited, let alone recognize the opportunity to reach out to them.
It is time I changed my thinking and, with the Lord’s help, my selfish heart. I want to leave behind a legacy of love and caring for others that impacts not only my son’s generation but every generation that follows. I encourage you to do the same because, whether you like it or not, you will be leaving something behind. You choose what that will be!!!
Image Source: Documentingreality