When you hear the word legacy, how does it make you feel? What legacy are you leaving behind? It is never to late to change it. Read on.
At Mighty Oaks Foundation, we offer a program called Legacy. It is a peer to peer program designed to bring hope and healing to those men and women who have served our country, whether they are an active duty service member, a veteran, a first responder or a spouse of one. During the program, a blueprint is presented of what it looks like to be the man or the woman God created them to be. From there they will calibrate the life they are living to the life they were created to live.
In the earlier years of Mighty Oaks Foundation’s Mens Legacy Program, I was invited to share a part of my story to prepare them for their return home. It was usually the last day, and I would be the final presenter they would hear. The men all seemed to be very inspired and determined to return home with a new attitude and a willingness to take the tools they learned and put them into action. And then I would give them the news that what they left back at home is what they are returning home to. Most likely they had a wife and children that were afraid of them, maybe even an angry and bitter wife who has zero trust and most likely will think his newfound desire to be the man and husband God created him to be is ungenuine. I would share how important it was for them not to give up and why.
You see, I was that wife who was angry and bitter. The kids and I walked on eggshells to not make Daddy mad. For me to sit back and watch Chad “be all holy” now was not something I accepted well. To make a long story short; it was Chad’s consistency in his actions and words that showed me he was no longer the man he used to be. I rejected his change out of fear that he was only lifting me up to throw me back down. “Besides, he pulled this stunt one too many times.” There were times that I needed to express my fear and anger from the hurt he had caused me. In the past, Chad would shout me down with manipulation and control, which would only leave me feeling terrified of him and hopeless for our marriage. But something was changing in his heart; he cried over the pain I was experiencing from the hurt he had caused me. Chad would wrap his arms around me and prayed for me while I sobbed. Over the next year, “YES, YEAR,” he began to earn my trust again. I finally believed that he was changing into the man and husband that God created him to be and that this change was authentic. Our marriage is whole and truly beautiful. It was hard work and seemed impossible at times, but we did it, and he did it! Chad changed his legacy.
Galatians 6:8-9 (NIV)
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Do you want to leave a lasting legacy that shows the evidence of one who planted good seeds and whose harvest will continue to grow long after you are gone? It is never too late to change your legacy.
Can I encourage you to:
- Start planting seeds that will produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness in your life and those around you. DO NOT GIVE UP!
Keep in mind that you will reap what you sow.
If you are a gossiper, you will lose friendships. If you are selfish, you will cause division and strife in your marriage. If you are trustworthy, you will have healthy relationships. If you are slow to anger and speak kindly, you may find that communication between you and your spouse is something that can be successful without hurting each other.
- If you are unsure where to start, or you feel it’s too late to turn things around, start with tiny baby steps. Identify one seed that produces weeds, attack it with weed killer until it dies!!
Example: Chad wanted to throw in the towel because of my unwillingness to accept his heart change (which was hard work), but he had made a pre-determined decision when he moved back home that he was going to respond with care (his weed killer) instead of anger towards me every time I brought up the past. At first, that was not natural for him, but eventually, it became easier.
- Ask for forgiveness. Admit that you handled the situation wrong and that you would like to make it right. Follow up with actions to support your willingness to make things right.
One thing my adult children can say about their father is that he made some huge mistakes, but what they remember most is how he humbly came to them and asked for their forgiveness. They watched him plant seeds of restoration and integrity, and now they have a very close relationship with him. The bond they share is special. I love it!