Legacy isn’t really a thing I’ve lived most of my life concerned with. I spent the majority of my days content to simply dwell on daily pleasures. And there is definitely merit in learning to enjoy the moment. I just found myself too often caught up in it, unable to look ahead. But the steps in my daily walk have ripples beyond what I can immediately see. I am now more aware of that. But it’s tough to tell what kind of impact your actions will have without the benefit of hindsight. I think it’s often right after loss we come the closest to fully realizing the personal legacy others leave behind. It’s sad that it can take a broken relationship, a friend moving away, or the death of a loved one before you can come closer to framing what they mean to you. It’s not like we’re not aware of loving the person, but that shock of the loss has us thinking about all the small and large ways in which they actually changed our lives. I’ve had several opportunities to experience that and I bet you probably have too.
Recently I attended the visitation for one of our church elders. Ron Wagoner had been ill for a while but it was still a surprise to hear of his passing. I drove alone and sat out in my car for a moment before entering the building. My grandmother’s passing was the last time I’d been to something like this. And it was a very emotionally tough time. Immediately I noticed a different feel than other visitations and funerals I’ve been to. It wasn’t a party but did not feel like a somber event. I filed in the line that snaked around and out from the main room and into the entryway with a few friends from church. There were pictures posted by the door, celebrating the life of a good man. The line bent and curved near itself over and over, so I was always close to several others I didn’t know. People who had been impacted by Ron.
What I overheard aligned with what I knew of him. He and his wife Brenda would always take time to invest in my life. They made to sure that I was okay, wanted to know how my sister was. Ron was a man who was always ready to help. A man who carried a great faith. A man who cared. I was in line with people who I shared a connection with because of his and his wife’s love. It took well over an hour to get to the front of that line to hug Brenda. There are never any good words to impart to someone dealing with that kind of loss. And I didn’t have to try and come up with something. Brenda made sure to pour into me and comfort me that day. She told me how good life was because she’d married a man who loved God. She told me to make sure I’d find someone who does the same. I noticed that the people after me got the same treatment. They’d arrive, looking to comfort her, instead they were lifted up by her words. It was pretty powerful.
That night has weighed on my mind since then. The idea of living and leaving life with a legacy of love. That possibly living in a way that stores up treasures in heaven still leaves a big impact here on earth. I want to live in a way that builds others up. Even after I’m gone.