Love is a big word. To some we say it without much thought. “Bye honey, I love you, have a great day.” It’s almost a habit. But no matter how we say it, it usually sounds the same. How we love is a different story all together.
Lets look at love the verb. People show love in many different ways. My husband shows love with words. My daughter shows love with gifts, always making things for those she wishes to show love. My son likes hugs and physical touch. I love by serving, taking care of my family and providing a home where my family loves to be.
When considering an article for the love month of February, I kept thinking about what it means to create a legacy of love, the kind of love that lasts. God’s love is a legacy that has lasted throughout creation. Creating our own legacy is something we all hope to do; something meaningful to pass down to those we love. Though most don’t like to consider the end of our life, creating a legacy must begin with that question. What do you hope those you love say about you when you reach the end of your time on this earth?
The family in which I was raised was more than dysfunctional. We lived in Columbia, Mississippi, a rural area out on a lonesome highway with a huge yard and rolling hills.
My parents divorced when I was young, which left my mom to raise five children on her own with little education. At times she had to work two jobs to keep food on the table.
My father did little to offer financial support. In addition, he was married nine times, we had constant change and stepfamilies were a dime a dozen. Add to that alcoholism, depression, and a distorted view of how the Bible instructed us to live.
Thankfully, things for my current family are different. My husband and I are happily married, he earns a great living, and our home is consistent in its environment. I am able to work my schedule around my children, affording me the unique opportunity to have both an exciting career while doing the majority of my work while both children are at school.
With the New Year came goals, one of which was to regain control of my house. After Christmas things had gotten out of hand. My children’s responsibilities were ignored. Toys were everywhere and respect was missing-in-action. Sibling rivalry was reduced to all out war and I had had enough.
Family meeting time. “Kids, things are out of hand and today things are changing.” My husband and I laid out the new ground rules for expected behavior and responsibilities. Consequences accompanied each. We were serious and our children knew it.
That turned out to be a tough, but a productive week. Suddenly there was order, respect, and my children once again loved each other. Should I mention it felt really good?
Mind you this sudden goal of order and responsibility was not really sudden at all. I had done this before. But this particular time something was different. There was a new sense of confidence that I didn’t have before. Though not sure why, no longer did guilt linger on my shoulder with the weight of second guessing my newest intentions.
Soon I realized it was my mom’s legacy being passed down to me. During my childhood, we didn’t have much. We had all we needed, but few extras. We had plenty of food because the local grocer sold us all the day old meat at a huge discount. But we had more than love, and at the time I didn’t even know it.
For my mom I can only imagine the sleepless nights wondering how we would make it. My dad had taught us about God, but a God whom we feared, one not readily available to help a family in need. Yet when you have nothing on which to depend, you will eventually call out to God in a feeble attempt to find hope in something.
To a God she did not understand, she cried out for help, laying before Him the needs of her family. Though not an audible voice, in her heart she heard a distinct message that was no doubt from a God of great love and comfort. “You and your children are going to be fine. I am protecting you.” Short message, not much grandeur, but one she new came from a most loving Father. And to that promise she still grips today.
In that moment, she began to quietly Trust God with her family, knowing she had nothing to fear. With that came a new sense of confidence that was spoken in times of need. “Mom, is everything going to be alright? Are we going to be able to pay our bills this month?” We as children had learned that success for us had become food on the table and a roof over our head. “Yes, we are going to make it.” No sudden lottery ticket, no Publishers Clearing House check, but our needs would be met and she did not worry, thus we did not worry.
As her now adult children with children of our own, it’s no different. Though we have all grown to understand God for who He is, mom still holds that promise close to her heart. It’s as real today as it was forty years ago. At a moments notice, when one of her children is faced with something that could cause panic, and the first thing we still do is call to be reminded of her promise. “Mom, they are checking Adam’s white count, they think he might have leukemia,” my sister Lisa said through her uncontrollable tears. “Is my son going to be OK mom, please tell me it will be OK!” Mom’s words were always the same, “I promise it’s going to be fine.” She just knew.
This memory for me has been front and center as I choose to parent out of faith and not fear. Suddenly being able to establish consistency in my home wasn’t just words, it was faith, a faith passed down from her to me. Fearful parents cannot instill discipline, but faithful ones can. Any inconsistencies in raising my children had come straight from guilt and fear, and that is not from God. It was in this understanding that I began to accept my own legacy of love.
Years before when my mom cried out to God, she didn’t stop with thanking God for His promise to her. That birthed the beginning of a life of prayer and intimacy with God. Praying on behalf of her children became her way of life. It was a relentless pursuit of God’s presence in our home and in our life, and she to this day has not stopped. That is what I call love.
Do you want to create a legacy of love? Then love those in your life from your knees. To say I am grateful for my moms legacy is not fitting. But to pass it down to my own family is a legacy that will last a lifetime and into eternity. Seeing the power of her fervent prayers in my own life gives me the faith to trust in the prayers for my own family.
For us there were trials as there are for each today. For some things there are few answers to deep questions as to the why’s of life. A word from God for you may be different than a word from God for me. But when the Bibles says in Matthew 7:7, “Seek and you will find, ask and it will be given,” I know that God’s word is true all because of a prayer said years before. My mom sought God and what a find for our family. We are all Christians today by the Grace of God and because my mom loved us from her knees.
In creating my own legacy, I will pray for my family every day. Into their life I will pray Scripture straight from God’s Word. We will attend church faithfully. When faced with a problem, we will seek what God’s Word has to say and apply it accordingly. From those things done consistently, Faith will emerge and fear will diminish.
What my mom did for us is supernatural. The legacy’s that could have been passed down to us were replaced by the Love of a Father who did an about face in the life of our entire family. From where we came to where we are today can only be described as a miracle.
Sometimes loving those in your life is just not enough, but loving them from your knees brings about God’s presence in the lives of those you love. What my mom did for me, I can do for my family and you can do for your family. Love them from your knees and do it for a lifetime. That creates a legacy of love that will last throughout eternity.