It’s simple. We want life to count. We don’t want our time on this earth to be wasted; we want it to mean something. We want to leave an impact. Without realizing it we ARE impacting those around us every day. Our children, our co-workers, our friends, our extended family…everyone we come in contact with we impact.
We’ve all heard the saying “caught not taught.” Our kids are watching us. Emulating us. They can’t help it. There have been studies showing how kids imitate adults. They are subconsciously watching us. Have you ever noticed how family members dress alike, look alike, have the same mannerisms, humor, like the same music or movies? We are weird creatures like that.
Our kids will grow up following our lead even if they don’t show it as teens. It will happen in the simple things for instance, the way you cook or clean your house, the way you handle friendships and treat other people, your love for certain music and entertainment. Your behavior will be handed down to the next generation naturally. This can also be negative so if there’s a habit that needs to be nipped in the bud do it now. A friend of mine recently shared how it’s been fun to watch her grown children take on the family traditions with her own family without even thinking about it. How we choose to live will be emulated. Choose how you want to live.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Sometimes our training is intentional; other times it’s not, it’s caught. Let’s look at some things we can do intentionally to leave a legacy for our kids. It may not be as difficult as we think.
Love God. Two simple words with so much power and depth; love God. When we live our lives loving God we are setting an example for our kids. I need to be honest here. This article was very hard for me to write. The topic of leaving a legacy was on my heart but every time I sat down to write it nothing would come out. I finally realized I was struggling with guilt. As a single Mom I carry loads of guilt, thinking I’m not doing enough for them; after all, look at what they’ve been through. How can I write an article on leaving a legacy?
C’mon, I know I’m not the only one stuck here. Somehow, we think we are less because we are single parents. Or we need to work twice as hard because we are playing the role of both parents. Or we carry the burden of someone else’s sin. The enemy was glaring his religious eyes at me burning with lies about how can a single Mom leave a legacy for her broken family. Lies, lies, and more lies. Let me tell you how you can leave a legacy for your kids single mommas…..by loving God, that’s how! I’m loving God in the midst of brokenness. He’s my anchor, my salvation, my hope. I’m clinging to my savior and exchanging those lies for truth.
The truth is my kids are really not mine, they belong to God. He can speak to them and guide them so much better than me. He has plans for them far beyond what I have dreamed and can orchestrate their lives as only their Maker can. He can use me and equip me on their behalf, but ultimately they are His babies.
Let your kids SEE you loving on Jesus. Loving on Jesus doesn’t magically make us perfect people. Loving on Jesus looks different for everybody. For me it looks like a real person doing the best they can while leaning on Jesus for strength and wisdom. It’s ok to let them see us fail. It’s going to happen. They may even see us having to pay some natural consequences for decisions made by us. Just push delete and keep on loving Jesus. Let them watch as our character grows.
Romans 5:3-5 - Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Live with purpose. Everything we do has eternal value. I recently heard David Green, Founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, speak at my church. He said every accomplishment he would bring to his mother she would ask if it had eternal value. We don’t always think about the fact that everything we do here has eternal value. Earth is not our home we’re just passing through. I really appreciate the simple question “does what you’re doing hold eternal value?” It can. It’s all in our perspective. This can be applied to any part of our lives.
Something I started for each of my kids before they before they were born is a journal. They each have a personal journal that I’ve intentionally kept for them. Through the years I’ve written prayers, cute stories of things they have done, thoughts I’ve had about them, even some of the hard times and how I see God working on their behalf. It’s intentional, not perfect, not consistent, but nevertheless a legacy of my prayers for them. It’s never too late to start this one.
Give back. Serving and giving extravagantly. Giving with a grateful heart and do so unto the Lord, not trying to earn favor or approval is a sign of health. We may not feel like we have what it takes but I guarantee it does something uplifting when we give back. Want to break out of victim mentality? Start serving somewhere. Out of our weakness He is made strong.
Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Let your actions be caught and not taught. Character matters in life. Remember they’re watching how we live and will naturally imitate us. What we do and how we respond to situations all reveal the degree of character in our hearts.
2 Peter 1:5-7 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
Colossians 3:12-15 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Every single day brings with it plenty of opportunities to make right decisions and building character. Make a mental note this week while doing life. How are you talking to or about your ex-spouse in ear shot of your kids? How do we respond when we get cut off in traffic? (Gets me every time!) What was the tone of your voice when you asked the kids to clean up the kitchen? Your list will look different from mine.
How do we do it Mammas? The dirty diapers, endless hours up at night, nursing, tantrums, and fixing owies…… the list goes on and on. The older women in my life, the ones who had been there and done that, would tell me, “this too will pass”. Guess what? They were right. In the blink of an eye those cute little babies are full grown adults living their own lives. The reality of raising children is at the end of the day I just want them to be decent people and good citizens. That will be my legacy. What's yours?
Cheryl is a single mother of 7 young adult and teenage children. Originally from MN, Cheryl has lived and worked all over the Midwest in broadcasting. Missions brought her family to Kansas City in 2007. She sspent 17 years homeschooling and raising 7 children. Find her busy creating something from nothing. Currently resides in Lee’s Summit.