I found myself mumbling out loud as I walked through my office this week. I didn’t realize I was talking out loud until another co-worker asked me to repeat what I had just said. At first, I was not really sure what I was mumbling about but then it flooded back into my memory. I was mumbling something about needing to “go on vacation and disappear for a while”. Ever have those feelings? Seems lately I have had them a lot. Nothing serious and nothing that more than a day off couldn’t cure.
However, there have been times in my life that things were so bad that I just wanted to disappear from life altogether. Not in the sense that I wanted “end it all”, but rather, I just wanted to get in my car and drive as far away as I could. Wherever the car ran out gas, I would start a new life and get a fresh start. Now these were just fleeting thoughts and at no time was I serious about wanting to really do that. They were just thoughts going through my head. I have lived long enough to know that you cannot run away from the problems in your life. They will always find you. What I have learned from these thoughts is that for whatever reason, whether it be due to bad choices we have made in our lives, disappointment, hurt, anger, regret, pain or loss we all want to remove ourselves from the things and people who caused us such problems. It is a common feeling. The idea of getting a second chance and starting over is a strong force to be reckoned with. But ultimately, no matter how hard we try, we cannot change the events and the trouble from our past.
I am reminded of the powerful influence that my family and friends had on me while I was growing up. I am a “momma’s boy” and I have always acknowledged that. Apart from my relationship with Jesus Christ, my mother’s influence on me has been the single most important factor in making me into the person I would become. She left an imprint on my life. A “footprint” if you will. This “footprint” that she gave has been evident all my life. I can honestly say that if there is any thing “good” in me I have no doubt that it came from my mother.
As I head into my 50’s, I realize that there have been other “footprints” that have influenced me and left their “mark” on me as I look back on my life. They would leave a legacy of influence. This “legacy” that was passed on to me would lay a foundation on the person I would become. My grandfather left a footprint that has made me want to be a better man. My dad left a footprint of a good work ethic. My brother, a footprint of being true to your core beliefs of fairness and equality. My sister, that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind and heart into it. These are the positive footprints that I choose to focus on and take away from their influence on my life. However, there are “footprints” that have been left in my life that have not been good. A legacy of anger, failure, disappointment, hurt and loss have all been part of my life. These footprints have be given not only by family but by my friends as well. I am finding out that there has always been an influence from those that make up my past. As much as I would like to, I cannot simply erase the bad influences by simply wanting to run away from them. They will stay with me until the day I die. The goal is to focus on the good influences and put away the bad.
What frightens me the most, is the cold-hard realization that I have passed on my own “legacy”. My actions and my influence have planted “footprints” in my family. My footprints have left behind a legacy that my children will have to deal with their whole life. I know and understand that each of my children have to forge their own path. Just as I cannot blame those that influenced me as an excuse for not doing right, they cannot use me as an excuse to not live for Jesus Christ. However, I cannot help but think of the times that I failed them as a father. It is overwhelming to me when I think about that. I think back and wonder, what could have been had I not been this, or had done that. My footprints will indeed leave a legacy in their lives. Will this legacy leave a mark that will be positive and point them to Christ or will it leave a scar that they will carry for the rest of their lives? Only time will tell.
This past January, I wrote a post called, “Scars Earned Along The Path Of Forgiveness” (Click the link to read). It is one of the most popular blog posts that I have ever written. I still get “hits” every single day to read this post. Why? Well… I know it is not because the writing is so good that people keep on reading it over and over again. I believe that the real reason this post is still popular is the fact that each of us know that in some way we are scarred. Scarred by the failures of a parent, failures of a husband or wife, failures by those closest to us. The evidence of a life lived is witnessed by the scars we carry. These scars can be emotional, physical and more importantly spiritual. We are scarred from events that have caused us pain or hurt in our lives. We could be scarred by the way we were raised or by disappointments that have come our way in life. Scars are reminders of the result of the choices we have made and some by the choices of others. The deepest and most painful scars are those that others cannot see. Many of them are “earned” and self-inflicted, some are not. The bottom line is that scars are a part of life. It is what you do with them that is important. You can choose to use them as motivation to do better or you can use them as an excuse to do nothing. I am constantly reminded that the scars that are evident in my life are there to point me to Christ. They are reminders of what can happen again if I take my eyes off the Lord.
In closing, from time-to-time I get asked about the name of my website, “The Legacy Builder”. I chose the name as a reminder to me that I leave a legacy wherever I go. I leave a “footprint” and an influence on those I come in contact with. My prayer is that for the rest of my life that I will leave a legacy of faithfulness and love for Christ in the footprints I leave behind.
The question is, what will be the legacy of the footprints you leave behind?