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Leaving a Meaningful Legacy How To Leave a Meaningful Legacy

We all have more influence than we realize.

When I was a kid, I loved Six Flags over Texas in Arlington. Twice a year we made the trek to this Mecca of fun and excitement. I could hardly sleep the night before.

When we arrived, I made a beeline for a familiar landmark. Just inside the entrance was a large, upright wooden map. It was colorful and kid-friendly, with pictorial displays of all the rides and attractions. I rapidly checked for any new adventures constructed in the last year. Next, I looked for the big red dot.

You know the one – the YOU-ARE-HERE dot.

Once I knew where I was in relation to where I wanted to go, look out. “Six Flags Flash” became my nickname.

Six Flags had these maps in every area of the park. They were always surrounded by throngs of people trying to get their bearings. Everyone was asking some form of "Where do I want to go?" and "Where am I now?"

Where do we want to go?

"Where do we want to go?" When we apply this question to life, it tends to be less about location and more about purpose.

Why are we here? What were we placed on the planet to be and do? When we depart this place, what do we want to leave behind?

Most of us want to make a positive difference. I believe this is a natural desire lodged deep in our hearts. We were designed for meaning and impact.

As we age, however, we tend to lose sight of this. Perhaps we associate meaning with stellar health, sharp abilities, and high productivity. In some minds, “older and slower” becomes synonymous with “less important and less meaningful.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, with age often comes experience and perspective that can fine-tune our purpose and make us more effective than ever.

But that depends on what our purpose is. What are we shooting for? What legacy do we want to leave?

What legacy do we want to leave?

Whatever legacy we want to leave behind us, chances are it has to do with some or all of the following:
• Showing love for those we care about
• Making the world around us better
• Preserving something of great value that enhances lives and relationships
• Passing on wisdom and positive character qualities
Most of us want to be remembered, but our influence lingers far longer than the memory of our physical presence. Good people are often forgotten, but their influence - the trickle-down results of decades of their thoughts, words, and actions - can be found everywhere.

We're in this together. What can we leave future generations that will help? What can we think, say, and do now - and in the days to come - that can impact posterity for good?

Yes, I like to think big. I don't believe we can afford to think small. Each of us is of incredible, priceless value. The significance of each person is more than any of us can fully grasp. We must have a purpose to match.

Meaningful legacies don't simply happen. They are the result of thoughtful, intentional living. Which way we lean has impact on which way we go. Drifting hardly ever amounts to much. Floating along with the current is easy, but often takes us where we don't want to be.

Our abilities may shrink with time, but our purpose doesn't have to. In fact, those coming behind us desperately need us to stay the course, maintain our focus, and resolutely live out our convictions and beliefs.

Ultimately, you are your legacy, and I am mine. The best we have to give is ourselves. And that's far more important and impactful than any of us realize.

What legacy would you like to leave? What impact would you like to have?

Go ahead, dream a little. Try reaching beyond what you've settled into. Growth never happens by staying the same. Comfort zones exist to be stretched and challenged.

Comfort zones don't actually provide comfort anyway. Instead, they slowly anesthetize our hearts.

YOU ARE HERE

Once you know more where you want to go (what legacy you want to leave), it's time to look at the map for the big red YOU-ARE-HERE dot.

Take stock of where you are now. Look around you and see what (and who) you have to work with. Now look ahead to that purposeful legacy you want to leave.

Ask yourself these questions:
• How are you going to get from the big red dot to that legacy you’re dreaming about?
• What needs to happen? What needs to change? What needs to stay the same?
• What is the next immediate step?
• Who do you know has the wisdom and skill set you need to assist you on this quest?
Our most fundamental legacies aren’t about money, property, or possessions (although it might include some of these). Our most powerful hand-me-downs come in the form of beliefs, convictions, and character qualities.

In other words, lasting legacies come from the heart.

Here's some good news. If your legacy so far isn’t what you want it to be, you can change it. Alter your course. Dare to think, speak, and act differently. Bring your life in line with a greater, larger purpose, and set your sights on leaving a lasting influence for good.

It's never too late to change direction. As long as we're drawing breath, relational healing and positive legacies are possible.

Memorial Day is approaching

Memorial Day is approaching. The men and women we celebrate have left us a profound and powerful legacy. They made a choice to serve. Their service led to the giving of their lives for our sake. We live in and enjoy the freedom they paid for. From them we learned the valuable lesson that freedom is never free. It must be defended, protected, and fought for.

We honor them. They are heroes - our heroes. How can we possibly express proper gratitude for such great commitment and sacrifice?

We can honor their legacy by living it. Service. Commitment. Courage. Honor. Sacrifice for the greater good.

We have a war to fight today - against hopelessness, discouragement, bitterness, and evil. We must battle with courage and diligence, first in our own hearts, and then in the world around us.

Love will win out. I want to be a part of that, don't you?

Here's to leaving an even better legacy.

Gary Roe is an author, speaker, and chaplain with Hospice Brazos Valley. His latest book, Please Be Patient, I'm Grieving (a #1 Amazon bestseller), is available on Amazon and at Hospice Brazos Valley. Visit Gary at www.garyroe.com or contact him at 979-821-2266 or groe@hospicebrazosvalley.org