21 September 2010

Creating a Legacy

On my first day of college, my creative writing professor asked us to write our obituary. I was confused at the seemingly morbid assignment. I'd just started college, I had my whole life before me...and she wanted me to write my obituary? What a strange request!

Yet, that seemingly insignificant exercise set the tone for my college career and for my life: at 18 years old, I was forced to identify the legacy I wanted to leave...and then to live towards those ideals.

Mortality is not usually a subject I think on very much; I usually take for granted that I wake up every morning, that when I take a breath, my lungs expand correctly and process the oxygen properly. I don't occupy my thoughts too much with how my thoughts, words, and actions today are directly influencing the legacy I will leave. "Legacy" sounds far off and untouchable.

But every once in a while when I delve into serious introspection, I wonder. I wonder about how my actions, thoughts, decisions, and words are affecting others, for good and for bad. I wonder about who I am becoming (am I progressing at all towards becoming the woman of Christ I want to be?). I wonder what others say of me now--Am I helping or hurting the ones I love? Is my testimony evident in the way I live--or do others wonder how I feel about them and about Heavenly Father?

I wish there was a way in our society to regularly solicit feedback from others about how we are doing, to evaluate how we are doing on the road back to Heavenly Father. Wouldn't it be nice if people eulogized us on a regular basis--maybe not to the extent that we do at a funeral, but just enough to let us know that we are doing some good in the world, making some progress. Certainly, it would be nice to know now, while I still have time to change, if there are things I do that hurt people; I would definitely want to know those things as well so I could repent.

However, I think it might even be more important that we let each other know the good that we do. I know it would help me; I would be the first to enumerate my weaknesses and failings but the last to recognize the good I've done for someone else. When someone tells me that I've said or done something that helped, I feel the Lord's love for that person and for me; I feel valued by the Lord when I see that He used imperfect me to help another of His children.

I wish there was some way that I could more easily share with others what they mean to me, how they change me, how they inspire me, how their love invigorates me and heals my heart, how their small acts bring me closer to Christ and closer to the woman I want to become. For someone with the gift of words, I am usually at a loss of words when it comes to sharing my feelings with someone face-to-face. I am afraid of how these words will be received. I fear rejection. I fear that what I say isn't important; I fear that my feelings don't matter, even if they are feelings of gratitude.

Elder Maxwell's grave stone reads "True Disciple of Christ."
For example, Elder Neal A. Maxwell's words were (and continue to be as I study them again and again) life-changing. They always resonated with me and encouraged me to pursue true discipleship regardless of the cost and the sacrifice. But I felt silly for even thinking about sending a "thank you" note to an apostle. Surely he would think my timid attempt at gratitude to be inconsequential; he spoke with the apostolic mantle and spoke the words inspired by the Holy Spirit, not for praise or adulation. Yet...would my feeble words have enabled him, even an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, another opportunity to feel the Lord's love? I guess I'll never know.

1 comment:

  1. Dearest Cousin, you inspire me...I am motivated by your love and your spirit. You amaze me...I am awed by your energy and passion. You heal me...I am astounded by your dedication and self control and willpower and by your incredible strength. You change me and help to make me into the woman that I myself want to be one day. You are a blessing and you are truly a miracle in my life, and you are something that I aspire to emulate. You have given me faith and hope that all things are possible through Jesus.

    I'm not the best at articulating what I want to say, but I hope you get the gist of what I feel, because I mean it with every last ounce of my beating heart.