As I sit at my computer, I face a wall of photos of friends and relatives, some gone before us and some still here.
I am not one for keeping photo albums, so this wall includes my favorite photos – those worth looking at daily.
My husband and I do not have children, so it is very unlikely after we are gone that our photo will be on someone’s wall of memories. That leaves us to ask how do we leave our mark on life. What have we done that will show we were ever on earth, and does that really matter?
My husband is a woodworker. He acquired this love mid-life and went to a school held by a master craftsman to learn techniques. Since he has retired, he spends every available hour in his woodshop creating, fixing and restoring. His list of accomplishments is long, including making our kitchen's cabinetry to exacting specifications created out of thin air by me.
We visited kitchen centers for ideas, and I determined what I wanted and where I wanted it for our small galley kitchen, including pull-out drawers for pans and tricky hidden shelving for our spices. He was able to create it all.
Now that he is finished with most of the large jobs around our house, he is restoring chairs, tables, and creating fun items for friends. If it is made of wood, he can do anything that's needed.
I asked him to buy a branding iron with his name and “created by” on it, so that years into the future, our friends and their children can remember that Neil created that item for them, a beautiful legacy of love shown to our friends and something that is substantial, something someone can touch and hold.
I don’t have the gift of creating permanent items, so what might my legacy be? I pray God has used me to touch others' hearts for His good. I cannot note anything solid and say that is it, but I strive to be obedient to serving others in God’s name.
Because we don't have children, we often befriended those that find themselves alone in life or couples with grown children. Many of our friends at church have gone before us, leaving behind a legacy of their smiles and friendships. That is the legacy I pray I will leave behind. A memory of me loving and laughing with the memory holder.
We have hosted endless meals at our home over the years. Our tiny house will generally seat six people for dinner, but for Christmas dinner, with our friends that also have no family nearby, we have pressed it to nine or 10. Our in-house woodworker created a large piece of plywood that custom fits over our table to add space for a few more bodies.
What joyful memories I have sharing our table with friends. Listening to stories and learning about those we normally pass by each day is such a gift to me. I have received the legacy of so many lives lived beyond my horizons. Can this really be a legacy, a legacy of lives lived well?
Merriam-Webster defines legacy as, “Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.” Stories from our lives shared with others then seem to me to fit the term. I am starting to feel better already since I am sharing these stories with you.
Living my life to the Glory of God then will be my legacy. I don’t have anything with my stamp on it, but hopefully, I am giving others joy through giving myself, which also gives me joy. Few people have been in my life where I have not received some iota of good, even from the worst of them. Sometimes, just an enjoyable laugh after dealing with a quirky family member makes me feel better. I am learning patience by practicing being patient.
I was so excited to be approached in a restaurant by a teen I taught in a youth group. Now in her 20s, she had one darling child in her arms and another shy little one behind her.
This beautiful lady did not attend our church but attended youth group regularly each week. I had not seen her for at least 10 years, and I could not believe she even remembered my name. She came over to introduce her little family. I could see from her face that those years I gave to the teens were worth it to God and her.
She’s not the only one.
Some of those still attend our church as adults, so I have the opportunity to see them raise children. This way of life is a legacy from their family and their church family, which flows down to their children, hopefully for generations to come.
What about those young lives touched by youth group but wandered away?
Deep in their memories are the stories of God and His glory, but their children are not hearing those stories unless their grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings or friends tell them. Maybe, that is also to be our legacy – to go and tell the story.
I love the song "Go Tell It on the Mountain." It reminds me that our job is to tell the story of Jesus’ saving grace and God’s love for His people. We should be bringing the good news to those that have not yet heard it, repeating His story to the next generation.
To answer my earlier question, I believe our legacies on God’s behalf matter to Him and others.
ED. NOTE: Amy Patsch writes from Ocean City.