My seven-year-old (ish) nephew was a having a blast. He was on a field trip to a nearby air force base with one of his best buddies. Not only was that in and of itself pretty wonderful, but Dad was in charge this time. Mom was great and he appreciated her and all, but she just didn’t do things like Dad did. Today was going to be awesome.
After a quick brown bag lunch in the van, my nephew and his little pal raced off through the parking lot, ahead of Dad, toward the museum. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and man! Had my nephew’s legs grown or something? He was moving fast! He was maybe even the fastest kid in his class. Life was good.
Fortunately, the car was not moving fast. And, the driver was paying attention.
Catastrophe avoided. Boy deflated.
As almost every parent does as least once, this little guy’s dad helplessly watched an accident almost happen with his heart in his throat. My young nephew, face red, head hanging and tears forming, made a beeline for his father and reached for the security that could be found in his daddy’s hand. After a few moments, the dad asked his young son, “Well, what did you learn?”
This was the father’s fourth child, so he knew to be patient and not try to push the thoughts that were forming in the boy’s head. After several moments, the anguished boy replied, “Nothing! I didn’t learn anything! I already knew not to do that!”
I love this story, because I think it could have been written about me. How many times have I done something foolish…with the full knowledge that I should have left well enough alone? If experience is the best teacher, shouldn’t I excel at not making lousy decisions?
For the past 29 days, we have been on a Journey of Abundance with the hope that we stop looking at what we don’t have to offer and start focusing on the remarkable resources we do. We have acknowledged that we are all leaving a legacy of some sort and that we might as well be intentional about what kind of legacy we leave. We have a wealth of good gifts that we can give to those around us–some as easy as sharing a smile, making eye contact, writing a thank-you note or holding open a door for someone else.
Some of what we’ve explored is maybe a little bit more difficult for us–learning to bite our tongue, unplugging from our cell phone, praying for someone who rubs us the wrong way, recognizing and breaking patterns of manipulation.
I warned you that some of this wouldn’t be easy.
Have we learned anything? Maybe we have and maybe we haven’t. The more important question is, “Are we ready to make better choices?”
My mom recently loaned me a book about Ben Carson, the gifted neurosurgeon. I haven’t gotten very far into it, but a letter from Carson’s mother caught my eye on the first page. Mrs. Carson shared a poem that she used to read to her boys to help them understand that they were largely responsible for their own quality of life. While Mrs. Carson was primarily talking about worldly success, I think this poem can also apply to leaving a successful legacy to those around us. Here it is…
“Yourself to Blame” by Mayme White Miller
If things go bad for you–
And make you a bit ashamed,
Often you will find out that
You have yourself to blame…
Swiftly we ran to mischief
And then the bad luck came.
Why do we fault others?
We have ourselves to blame…
Whatever happens to us,
Here are the words to say,
“Had it not been for so-and-so
Things wouldn’t have gone that way.”
And if you are short of friends,
I’ll tell you what to do–
Make an examination,
You’ll find that fault’s in you…
You’re the captain of your ship,
So agree with the same–
If you travel downward,
You have yourself to blame.
Challenge: Live abundantly, leaving the legacy you have been called to leave!