Og Mandino is credited with saying, “The greatest legacy we can leave our children is happy memories.” As a Christian parent, I believe the greatest legacy is introducing them to a vibrant walk with Christ. But, I understand the sentiment that Mandino is trying to impart.
Traveling back to the times of Julius Caesar, one of the statesman / philosophers of that day, Cicero, taught that “Memories are the treasury and guardian of all things.” Jesus understood the power of creating memories when He took bread and a cup and commanded that early church to “Do this in remembrance of Me.”
If you are just catching up with what’s going on in my life currently, I’m on sabbatical and enjoying Life in the Slow Lane. After 26 years in one ministry, we are currently in the middle of a transition. With that background, it’s safe to assume that I’ve had some time to reflect, rest, and recalibrate as we prepare for our next adventure.
One of the thoughts going around my mind is the importance of memories. I’m “type-A” and “goal-oriented” in my make-up. Some would say that I can be driven. My dad taught me the importance of a good name and a strong work ethic as a kid – it’s served me well! But I know myself – I can get caught up in the fast lane that I miss out on opportunities to create memories.
My last few years at West Coast Baptist College, I was starting to understand the weakness associated with a strength (strength: High performer / weakness: live life fast). I begin to intentionally create moments to celebrate victories with the teams I was tasked to lead. I looked for ways to step back and create memories. If I was trying to “accomplish great things for God,” then I might as well have fun while doing it 🙂
In this season of life, I’m focused on creating family memories. Previously, I focused on “big events / big memories.” “I know it’s busy – let’s take a trip to Disney.” Or, “I’m getting ready to be gone on tour, let’s go to Hawaii!” Sure, those memories are great – I’d do it again! But, I’m learning that the small memories, the I-am-engaged daily routines may actually leave a greater impact.
Here are some of the lessons I am trying to implement:
Big Gifts are no replacement for time.
My colleagues know I enjoy Disney. When I completed my terminal degree, my wife and I took a Disney cruise. Don’t worry – we took the kids the next year! I sometimes pull out the video of the Christmas we gifted our kids with the cruise. Excitement doesn’t begin to capture the moment. We had a blast.
Yet, I’m learning that spending time teaching the kids Latin, a magic trick, playing a board game, or just being around is much more impactful than the big event. Though it goes against my perfectionist attitude and my desire for spelling to be accurate, there is truth in the adage that you spell love T-I-M-E.
Laughter is a great medicine.
More than my kids say, “Do you remember when we went to Hawaii?” – I hear, “Do you remember when dad bought a new washer and forgot to remove the bolts?” It was LOUD, enough so that it could be heard outside. Our kids thought it was awesome that I wasn’t perfect!
Often, as the family gathers, we’ll hear those magic words: “Do you remember when…” and we know we are in store for some good, healthy doses of laughter. Here’s the lesson: Life is too short to be so serious we can’t even laugh at ourselves.
Meals aren’t just for physical nourishment.
When life’s lived constantly in the fast lane, it’s easy to feel rushed during the meal – what do we have to do next? I understand that my body needs nourishment to survive – but I also realize that meal times offer more than just physical nourishment.
Meal times are opportunities to create memories. Jesus understood this basic truth so well that He centered an entire ordinance around a meal – the Lord’s Supper. During a meal once, an unnamed child proceeded to share what she had been learning in school. She had heard of Buddhism, but couldn’t pronounce it. It kept coming out as “Buddhahism” and the more she said it, the more our family just laughed. It’s a memory hard to forget.
Meals are time to connect, to bond, to ask questions, and to share life together. As Christian servants, we intentionally want to impact the world for Christ – we must seek to intentionally impact our own families as well.
This isn’t exhaustive at all, but here’s at least the take-away. We get to decide what type of legacy we leave behind to our children. It’s possible to leave a legacy as a parent who works hard AND is engaged in the life of their family. I’m endeavoring to leave that legacy behind through those small encounters of doing life together – giving time, slowing down to laugh, and spending quality time together around the table.
It’s a work in progress! Yet, to all those parents and grandparents, I believe we’d all agree that it’s worth the effort to be able to say, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”