What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of the dark? Are you afraid of failure? Are you afraid of big dogs? Are you afraid of heights?
We ALL have something we are afraid of…
…every single one of us…
What we fear most is not what we openly admit to people in every day conversation. It is not something that most of us can see in someone else. Our biggest fear is much more difficult to find, but it is there. Admitting it to our closest of friends and family may even feel like torture beyond anything we have ever felt before. It makes us raw and very uncomfortable.
Want to know what “it” is?
That’s something only you can decide for sure, but I will give you some hints about where to start looking…the rest us up to you. Chances are, what you are most afraid of lies somewhere here. I know it does for me.
Some of us pass through the years afraid of being liked or having friends. Sometimes, it is not about having a lot of friends — it is about having the right kind of friends. Maybe we are afraid that we not the best parents we should be, so we second guess every decision and then regret changing our minds later. How many of us have been afraid of making mistakes — especially in front of others? Are you afraid of making a choice, because your self-confidence is so low that you believe that any choice you make will lead to disaster?
Guess what? We have all been afraid of any or all of those things listed above happening to us, but that is not the biggie. The one that probably no one ever thinks about. Why don’t they think about it? They don’t want to. It defines everything they have ever believed about themselves and lasts for years, and some of it cannot be changed, regardless of how hard they try. But it can be different.
Are you still wondering what “it” is?
One significant experience has left a permanent mark on me but it was not a good one, but a very sad one. Almost 10 years ago, a young man who was in my small group at confirmation took his life. He was 14 and had just began his freshman year and although I will never understand his reasons why (no one will), I will always remember the amount of people who came to celebrate his life and the big impacts he left…in his mere 14 years. Those impacts are still felt today and will never be forgotten. You see, our church will seat about 600 people but there were so many people there to support this young man and his grieving family, that the youth needed to sit on the altar, just to make room for the adults. I would bet there were at least 100 kids there, if not more. And as I silently wept for the life lost so young and the potential he never got to see, I began to feel a little selfish. Yeah, I will admit it. In fact, in some ways it inspires me. Most of us would be lucky to impact enough lives to fill half a church, but this young man not only filled his church, it was overflowing with love and comfort. At 14 years old, he touched more lives than he probably ever thought he did. He just never saw it. And now we will never know just how big his legacy could have been,
But isn’t what we really want most…is to be remembered?
To create such a legacy that the ripple effect lasts longer than we ever thought it would? Several years ago, I began to ask myself a similar question, but in a different way. It created curiosity that I had never really had before, so it was new, and yet I still wondered if what I did or said mattered. I wondered if my time here meant anything, and if it did, was it enough time to be significant? To be remembered? To have left something of myself behind that would live on? Something that would change someone? I remember wondering to myself (and even once or twice out loud) if I would be remembered. Not just the casual, tip of the tongue, “what-was-that-girl’s-name, oh, I know her from somewhere — where do I know here from” words that come from our mouths too many times to admit? We have all done that! As you rack your brain trying to figure out why someone looks familiar, it will come to you, but that is not the kind of thing I am talking about. I am talking about lasting feelings that you never shake and if you needed to recall the exact date, you could. You remembered what it felt like and the memories created from that point on and how your life was forever changed. Sometimes, our purposes are just that — to leave such a mark that no amount of erasing or cleaning will ever make it disappear. It has stained our hearts, left footprints that can never wash away, and made us different.
We want to be remembered not just for the next few minutes or into next week. We want our lives to have meant something to someone and to have shared a little bit of ourselves with those around us and blesses everyone that will ever come in touch with your soul. We are afraid of being so quickly forgotten that even the possibility of someone saying your name out loud, let alone thinking of you, never seems to occur. Enriching others’ lives, where our reactions almost surprise us because we never anticipated the effects left by others. It can leave is speechless and in shock to admit that someone changed us.
So, how do we live such a life that creates lifelong memories in others?
This is easier than you think. It is not about money. People that give money to their local charity via a local golf tournament doesn’t impact lives directly. Although that is all well and good, if you really want to make a lasting impression, get in the trenches and get involved with people. It is best place to begin true legacies. People will not remember how much money you gave from one year to the next and although things cannot happen without money, you do not feel connected to the lives you are helping — you are distant and protected from feeling compassion, love and understanding that can only be experienced.
How do you start building a legacy?
- You find out where there is a need and you reach out
- You gather information and use your resources
- You ask questions and then ask more questions
- You never quit
- You connect with people
- You share and listen
- You allow yourself to be a part of something bigger than you
You must see it with your own eyes…you must touch it with your own hand…you must feel it with your own heart.
Because you see, once your heart has been touched, the feeling never goes away…it is never forgotten…and it is one of the most treasured things imaginable. It becomes how you define your life, constantly striving to up the ante so that you no longer need be afraid, for your legacy has been written by your generosity, love of humanity, and undying want to leave the world better it is now. Don’t run for the moments that can change everything we know about how we want to live and how we live — there is a big difference. When it all comes down to it…you will always wish that you had chances to do all the things you always wanted to do. You get to define it, build it, and create it from your soul…and it starts TODAY.
There is only one question that remains to be answered and only you can answer it…
…when does YOUR legacy begin?
Michelle A. Homme 2014 ©