Everyone is pursuing something. A degree, a high end job, a ministry, a classy house, a brand new car. All these things have one thing in common: temporariness. If the pursuit of eternal happiness was found in temporal things, Jesus would not have to have been crucified. I want to touch on the importance of leaving behind an impactful legacy that glorifies God. Intertwined in this article is a little more of my own personal experiences and why God has placed this heavily on my heart. Don't forget to subscribe to this blog to stay up to date on posts, products, and updates from nonprofit organizations.
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The Pursuit of Happiness
This life is filled with endless distractions like popups in a browser. They promise happiness and quick fixes, but what they lack is a lasting legacy. This is a common theme throughout the Bible. God puts a lot of emphasis on building a lasting spiritual legacy, not just with biological family, but with others outside of the biological family. We get so caught up in life and pursuing temporary things that end up going on shelves or in a display case and collecting dust. No one talks about the price of this pursuit of happiness costs. Time is something that can never be gained back and eternity is a long time to have regrets. When I was reading the book Girl Defined by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird, they mentioned a story of an elderly woman that left a lasting impression on me. I'll share that snippet below from their book.
"I (Bethany) scanned the shelves in Mrs. Meyers's living room and noticed they were filled with trophies. "What are these for?" I asked, pointing to the shelves. Mrs. Meyers looked in my direction and said, "Deary, these are my dancing trophies. I was a swing dancing champion for ten years in a row. You should have seen the way I moved. Oh, I used to tear up that dance floor." She gazed off into the distance and looked as if she were daydreaming. I quickly got the impression her trophies were her most prized possessions. It seemed as if she was holding on to the memories and clinging to the happy feelings she recalled from that time in her life. "I remember spending holiday after holiday competing in the national competition. My poor children had to spend the majority of those holidays alone with their dad. I guess that's the price one pays for being a champion. In the end, as you can see, I won the trophies, but I'm starting to wonder if it was worth it." Mrs. Meyers's smile slowly faded as she finished talking. Baird, Bethany and Clark, Kristen. Girl Defined, Baker Publishing Group. Grand Rapids, MI, 2016. Pg. 199. Print.
The story of Mrs. Meyers ended with being alone. She was widowed but had married children. Her married children didn't come to see her during the holidays. Bethany mentioned she believes it was because of the absence she had in her children's lives in their childhood. This story is a true story, based on a real person. Anything in life we pursue, we will pay the consequences for whether for better or worse. If your pursuit of happiness is tied to temporary things, your legacy will lead you to a life spent alone and time will pass you by. There are no respawns. No second life after this life is spent. There are no do-overs. This life is the only life we get. Any decision we make will impact our eternity.
The story above continues to leave an impression on me that's unshakable. I know what it's like to be the child in a situation like that. Here's a little more on my story.
Even though I was abandoned by my biological mother, my dad and stepmom won the court case when I was nine. I went to live with them and ended up doing better in school and eventually graduating high school with honors (school was not easy for me. Before I went to live with my dad and stepmom, I was failing out of school). I joined the Navy at 19 and served 5 years. I was taught a lot of lessons that I still am eternally grateful for, just like I am grateful that God used this to remove me from a terrible situation. However, this may sound pleasant, but it wasn't a smooth ride.
To the outside world, the family appeared Christian. We all put on a mask and didn't take it off for anyone. Sure, we went to church occasionally, tithed. We did Christian things, but our hearts weren't on God. What occurred inside the home was not a Christian foundation. Screaming matches, having to keep things bottled up since there was a lot of ridicule, favoritism between siblings, not knowing whether or not the marriage would last. I remember a few times when we lived in Indiana my family would separate often and I was left. . .again. Over and over. This planted a seed of rebellion in me. I was tired of being left and tired of being lied to. I'm very much the type of person where actions speak more heavily than words, but I'll still pick apart your words. This truly marked the beginning of my rebellion. Trusting other people became second to none. My siblings and I constantly had to sacrifice things so my parents could go to college because the family was falling apart.
Fast forward to the military. I was about two-three years into my service when I started trying to do college classes. I successfully completed a few classes after going on a Romanian mission trip. I had become a true Christian at this time and God was already prioritizing my life. A year later, I met my husband on a detachment. I was married in 2017 to my current husband and he was deployed a few months later. While he was deployed, I attempted to take a few more college classes. I started falling behind, was stressed about his deployment since he was deployed to several hot zones, and started having anxiety symptoms that had become physical symptoms such as chest pain and always being on guard. After getting medical counseling, I had tried some medication that would help with the symptoms. I reattempted the classes, but the medication made me so drowsy that I would fall asleep in the middle of my classes and was still falling behind. In the end, I was on the phone with my husband when I started crying. I felt like a failure.
My husband reassured me that I was not a failure, but my priorities were centered on meeting marks set by other people instead of listening to the priorities that God wanted me to fulfill. The desire to go to school was to eventually become a doctor so I could go on future mission trips as a medical doctor. While this goal was good, this way to approach ministry was not what God wanted me to do and He made that pretty clear by allowing me to fail so I could come back to Him. I was pursing a piece of paper and the approval of my family since I was told at a young age that if you don't go to college, you're a failure and won't amount to much in life. After withdrawing from these classes, I felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I went to God in repentance and didn't reattempt classes until recently. That's three years later. Funding for these classes fell through literally the day before the classes were set to begin and I knew that God had closed that door for good.
I remembered as a child my parents going to college and all the sacrifices that had to happen. We lost out on family time that can't be bought back. Time doesn't rewind. To be honest, I don't want my child or future children to live through that. The moral of the story isn't that college is bad. For some, God allows college. It's a stepping stone to where God calls certain people. Getting a college degree isn't bad. However, where the heart is there the treasure will be also. When we idolize these things and they become our gods, this is where it is bad and sinful. I'm thankful still to this day that college didn't work out for me. Why? Because I'm more founded on God's principles. My children won't experience absence in their lives. I can pour into my own family and husband the way God wants me to. That is something I'm not willing to trade for anything. God has put it on my heart like a heavy weight to build a lasting legacy and I can't do that distracted. I have to do it intentionally. God allowed this ministry to be planted and a connection to be made with nonprofits to build into the lives of others.
Closing Thoughts on Leaving a Spiritual Legacy
There are still some family members who disapprove of my marriage even though my husband is one of the most Godly men I know in my life currently, my decision to honor God by being a submissive wife and helper and mothering the child that God has blessed my husband and me with. But I am not defined by the acceptance of others, and neither should you. When we choose to follow God, we are already accepted and adopted into an eternal family. We are given a new identity and purpose. Will you choose to live that out today?
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