Thursday, January 23, 2014

Legacy of love

Every time I buy a newspaper I have a certain order in which I peruse the different sections. First, I start with the national headlines. This makes sense because they are right on top. I scroll through the different pages, reading what interests me and skipping what doesn't. I end with the Letters to the Editor and a quick glance of the weather.
Then it is on to the obituaries. Local news can wait. Sports never gets touched. But obituaries take high priority for me when reading the newspaper. 
Reading obituaries might appear a bit morbid but I don't think of it that way. To me, obituaries aren't about death at all. They are actually the exact opposite. They are about life. 
Every obituary is a gold mine of life lessons. The stories are full of community involvement, family ties, dedication to church, fun-filled hobbies and golden anniversaries. In every obituary there is a legacy.
This morning I happened to have yesterday's paper on the counter, untouched except for one lone article cut out for my niece's school assignment. I decided to do my usual scan. I started with the headlines at a rapid clip. I read a Letter to the Editor. And then it was on to obituaries. 
Half way through the page I ran across one that caught my attention. Desiree passed away at the young age of thirty-four. The cause of death wasn't listed and there was no reference to a long fought battle with a terminal illness. The date and age of death were quickly stated and then the legacy was revealed: a "devoted daughter," "loving aunt" and "inseparable sister." Her life was brief but it was profound and beautiful. 
Desiree's story didn't list any awards or accolades. There wasn't an impressive list of schools attended, companies worked for or organizations in which she participated. Her obituary shared a simple legacy of dedicated love. She left a mark on the world by the care she poured out on her family and friends. 
Her tribute, condensed into a small, unassuming paragraph on page B4, provided a glimpse into the understated and often overlooked beauty of a life of love. 
What mattered most to Desiree is something that death can't extinguish: love. She lived in such a way that at the end of her journey she was able to leave behind an indestructible, incorruptible, eternal legacy of love. 
I want to live my life in such a way that I, too, leave a legacy of love. Lists of accomplishments, dollars earned and exotic travels will certainly fill the space on a newspaper page but the influence it will have is fleeting. The legacy of love is anything but fleeting. It is the only legacy that lasts. 
1 Corinthians 13:2 says, If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." 
Every day my actions, words and deeds form the legacy I will one day leave behind. What will that legacy be? It is a question worth asking. Is the legacy I'm leaving a legacy of God's love? Is my legacy one of relentless, unshakable devotion and dedication? 
When my legacy is spoken of, be it tomorrow or fifty years from now, I want it to be undoubtedly one of love. I want to hear the words "devoted daughter," "loving aunt" and "inseparable sister." I don't care if I don't get any letters by my name or impressive awards for outstanding accomplishments. The greatest story that could ever be told about my life will be one of Christ-like love. That is the legacy I want to leave and the life I want to live each and every day. 

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