Updated: Jan 11, 2020
As most of you know, I closed out 2019 by laying my precious Nan to rest. Jean Everett Beasley was my last grandparent and she loved me at an indescribable level. Her life is a story of perseverance and resilience. Nan made the most of her situation when she had nothing and there was no one to look up to. She was socially proper and a spitfire country girl at the same time. Nan worried herself to death over the people she loved but saw no reason to worry about things like muggers or serial killers when she took me to New York City at the age of 73. All her life she knew the Lord had her and on December 13, 2019, the Lord took her for real.
When you pass someone along to God, it is a cause for evaluating your own life. At her funeral, I decided that I want people to have the same stories and good feelings about me when I can’t preach my own convictions or lead people anymore. That begins in 2020.
If I could summarize my adult life so far, I would break it into four segments. 18-22 was college— a time where I followed a path created for me. I was highly encouraged to get a teaching degree from a school that my family was familiar with. I don’t use my teaching degree at all now. I don’t regret getting a teaching degree because I certainly didn’t have any better ideas, but I did what I was told from 18-22. I then fell into my 23-26 segment which was just survival. This time included my first year of marriage, army life in Washington state, Josh’s injury, my first child, and us trying to begin civilian life. I know that’s not everyone’s typical ”survival years,” but what I think most women can relate to is the feeling that life is just happening to you because you don’t quite realize what you control. I had to get a job doing something (anything) because we were broke. I had horrible health because I had a newborn while in long-term residency at an amputee hospital. I also didn’t have much of a church life or a social life because I just thought my time was out of my control. 26-30 was the “prove myself” phase. A well-intended ambitious response to my husband’s injuries and the birth of two children. I was going to seamlessly jump into the civilian world as if I had never left. Sure, I had lived in a hospital for two years, but that wasn’t going to slow me down. I was finally going to do what I wanted to do. Except, I brought my ”survival years” attitude with me. I got a great job. I got several
great jobs. Those jobs never heard the words “no” or “wait”. Again, I believed I didn’t control my schedule, my boss and make-believe expectations did. I was riddled with anxiety, constantly having sinking spells, headaches, and panic attacks. All in private, of course, because no one could know that I was struggling at a molecular level. About this time three years ago, I looked back on my year and was so disappointed. I had lost myself in so many ways. The (pretend) pressure at work was too great and my methods of blowing off steam were unhealthy. My marriage was last priority, I felt too young to have two kids, I didn’t honor my values with the way I lived, and I was constantly the victim of my circumstances. Taking a look at myself, I had a regularly visited thought: if my life were different, what would it look like? Except this time, my conviction also asked what’s stopping this? Seriously, why aren't things the way they should be? I began writing lists, searching God’s Word, reading, and listening to podcasts on taking responsibility for your own life. I now believe I am experiencing the awareness of my leadership phase.
This awakening hasn’t come cheap. It’s meant being committed to my health by giving no excuse to traveling or a busy schedule. It calls for a real prayer life that involves getting up before the sun to set my intentions for the day. Maybe more than anything, it has caused me to look at everything as an action that can glorify God. I changed my attitude toward things that once got me in a bad mood or
discouraged me, choosing to believe that I can learn and grow by seeing problems as opportunities. And, most of all, I chose to start seeing people the way the Lord sees them:
deserving of love and respect regardless of
While I am far from mastery of any of these things, I can say without a doubt they have fundamentally changed my life. As the old saying goes, “when you know better, do better.” 2020 will mark the year of great action from great conviction. It’s the crazy notion that maybe other people would like to learn from the things I’m going through and if I use those opportunities to lead, maybe I can hold
myself accountable and stay on course. Who knows where any of us can go if we can just eliminate distractions and remember what we are doing?
I believe this is how a legacy begins. I believe it’s simply commitment to looking for growth and embracing its process. Speaking from the authenticity of our own conviction will not only remind us of how far we’ve come, but it might just create a community of people that build each other up. Community is a by product of a legacy. It’s something that can not only outlast its leader, but develop into life-giving truths that influence people with more potential.
This year, I pray for a desire for all of us to find real joy in refreshing others. I pray that desire becomes a habit and that habit becomes our legacy. Spend today praying for that desire and then visualize the habits we could create to make the legacy possible.
Be an active participant in your blessing this new year!