13 May 2014

Choose Your Legacy

This weekend my mom, sister and I had taken a road trip for the first time ever. It was a grand experience and everything I had hoped it would be (other than too short). Due to the number of hours on the road, we found ourselves talking in great length about various topics.We began talking about how a girl growing up amongst all brothers tends to be a little more aggressive or defensive in relating to others. I wouldn't say we began to write a thesis paper but we drew from some relational experiences.

My mom grew up with two younger brothers and didn't seem to come off this way in all my years growing up. It could be because she was always distant from them and more introverted. I only had a sister; however, I did find myself always surrounded by boys in the neighborhood(s) where I grew up, school, the Army and everywhere else I turned. I always had more guy friends than girl friends. I could understand this summation being a possibility. Boys were rough, in-your-face, blunt, rude, and all things that require massive amounts of grunting Toolman
Taylor's famous grunt from the '90s sitcom Home Improvement>!
One lovely lady had admitted this very thing about herself to me awhile ago when I confronted her. She never came off rude to me...but to her sister-in-law she did. I thought, "How could this be? Is she channeling a Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde personality?" Her SIL would complain about the issue she had, often times to me, but I never picked up on it when I would see her. I thought there must be a miscommunication, misunderstanding or something. I don't like to gossip. It serves no useful purpose. I like to help people find a solution. I knew if I was hearing both sides of this from them individually then it was up to me to resolve the issue. I listened to each of their complaints individually. I took the knowledge I had from each to speak to the other on how to relate. I challenged them to have a cup of coffee or something similar where they could open up. It was great to see that this helped them crack the ice and move past their upbringing and insecurities from the past.


It wasn't until the road trip that I realized (out loud) the aunt that I had always been bitter towards may have been tough and difficult to get along with because she was sandwiched as the middle child between 4 brothers! My mom looked at me the way all mothers do when they see you have realized something that they had noticed long ago. She informed me of how they were raised to fend for themselves because food was not plentiful.


While insight into someone's past is great for learning how to communicate with someone and have compassion, we can't allow that to be the excuse for our present and most certainly not for our future! We can't continue to allow the pain and hurt someone has caused us to control our destiny, dreams and desires. We can't allow that to be the excuse for treating others how we were once treated. We need to buck up against phrases such as "well that's the way it was" or "this is how we've always done it". We need to work diligently and steadfastly to recognize the pain and find a way to use love to drive our future.

I'll be the first to admit this isn't something you can conquer once and for all. It is a daily choice. I spent last year working very hard on myself. (I'll save that story for another day.) I can't use the excuse of my past to dictate how I should treat my spouse, my children, my friends or the Average Joe. I must work purposefully to be kind and compassionate...to be loving. If we all begin to own up to our past, look it in the eyeballs and say to it, "You can't control me anymore". We will begin to leave a better legacy.

When we say we want our children to have a better life than we did, we need it to be about the legacy we leave and not the amount of trendy toys that fill their closets. It doesn't matter where you came from, YOU get to choose the legacy you leave for your children & beyond. What can you do today to change your legacy?