If you had to describe the legacy that you want to leave in just one word, what would that word be?
I tend to ask this question in coaching sessions, interviews or simply as a conversation piece. It’s a tough question and I’m amazed at the responses I’ve heard…
When you’re young, you can be filled with so many dreams, hopes and aspirations. But as adulthood creeps in and you adjust to it, oftentimes those dreams fade away as you are faced with the reality of bills, work, responsibilities, relationships and family.
So thinking about a legacy can be far fetched when you’re just trying to make it to the end of the month to pay your bills.
But that’s what I’m here for – to get you into habitually thinking about and reaching towards your legacy.
One of the greatest misconceptions about leaving a legacy is that you have to do something iconic or be famous or be rich but that’s not true. Your legacy includes the total sum of the contributions to this world and the impact of those contributions on the world after you are no longer physically with us.
Your legacy can be the impact you have in your community, job industry, or even in your family.
If I were to ask you what you want to pass down to the generations to come after you then what would it be? Better yet what do you NOT want to pass down to your children?
Perhaps you grew up in a volatile, dysfunctional environment – well you have the power to choose to be the one who breaks the chain of dysfunction, abuse, broken relationships, alcoholism or poverty in your family!
You could be the one in your family to say, “This stops with me.” I know what it’s like to grow up in nothing but utter dysfunction which has influenced my relationships and most importantly my growth as a woman but I made the decision that it stops with me.
You may not like what what I’m about to say but I believe that many of you need to hear this.
Our parents are human beings too…they have feelings and they are flawed just like you and I. A lot of us are holding onto serious grudges, anger, hurt, bitterness and resentment for expecting our parents to do something or act in a way that they simply don’t know how to do, nor have the capacity or emotional intelligence to do because nobody ever taught them. You might be mad at your father for abandoning you or your mother for never showing you the love and affection that you needed – but maybe no one ever taught them any better.
How can a wounded person with a wounded soul effectively raise a child in a healthy environment? A broken generation will only raise another broken generation, so you can’t be mad at someone for not doing something that no one has ever taught them to do…yes they should know better but there comes a time in your womanhood that you have to make a decision to let go, forgive, accept them for who they are and move forward.
Especially in our age group where our parents are aging and who knows how much time you have left with them.
Decide to be the one in your family to break the chains of dysfunction…and if you have kids or want to have kids, remember that children don’t do what you say, they do what they see. For example, yesterday at church I witnessed this right before my eyes as I watched a little boy in front of me doing exactly what he saw us doing as we raised our hands in worshipped – so did he. When we bowed our heads to pray, I noticed him looking around only to bow his head and follow his grandmother’s lead. I was actually talking to a woman before service began and she was explaining to me that her 4-year old son came home from school one day and asked her to pray with him. I was intrigued! I asked her, how does he know about prayer? She says…he’s watched me do it all of his life. Your children will do what you do, not what you tell them to do. They are your legacy.
Therefore, you set the example to your children on how to treat others including your parents. If your children see you holding onto pain and bitterness towards your parents, you’re showing them how to treat you later on.
As a matter of fact, my pastor discussed how we can make the fatal mistake of transmitting our pain to others – including our children. Your parents may have transmitting their pain onto you, they may have transmitted their negative thinking onto you, they may have transmitted a spirit of rejection down to you and you may not even know it! I realized that my mother had passed down a wicked spirit of fear and worry down to me and I had not recognized how both of them were tormenting me. Until I decided that I would fight back with faith and love!
All change begins with a decision…maybe just maybe the ball is in your court this time to be the one in your family to catapult change. Instead of transmitting the pain, be the one who transforms that pain into something positive. Use that pain as the catalyst to transformation in your life and the life of the generations to come.
Many of us are waiting for people to earn our forgiveness or to change before we can forgive and let go of the pain. You may even identify with the pain – no more of that.
The key ingredient to your womanhood is maturity. Being a woman is more than paying bills, having a good job, knowing how to cook and clean and having a good education – you can have all of that and still be broken.
Your womanhood involves maturing by deciding to forgive, walk in love, and let it go. Love does not keep a record of past mistakes and love believes the best. If you keep thinking that that person you love will never change, then they never will. As you change your thinking about those loved ones in your life, renew your mind to think the best of them and think loving thoughts about them, then you will see change. The more you think negatively about them, the more you are aiding in their resistance towards change. You have a lot more power to change the situation than you think.
Will you mature or will you continue to be an angry little girl? Trust me when I say I KNOW this isn’t easy as I’m on the same journey but we have to be the change we want to see. Let the true healing begin.
I normally don’t do this but I want you to do this exercise to help you discern where you need to do some healing and mending. Answer the following questions….
- What has my mother taught me (or modeled to me) about being a woman?
- What has my mother taught me (or modeled to me) about men, marriage and relationships?
- What has my father (or modeled to me) taught me about men?
- What can I learn from the pain I’m dealing with or experienced in my life? How can I grow?
As you do this exercise, I suggest that you pray and ask God to reveal things to your heart. Don’t just rush through this exercise. Your mind has to be renewed because you may have learned some philosophies that were rooted in negativity, failure or fear.
Do this exercise and become the change you want to see.
Maria I. Melendez
Founder & CEO