One of our favourite memories as a family was an event that took place many years ago. Our children were still quite young, and we had been going through a difficult time emotionally and spiritually, and needed to take some time out as a family to invest in some self care as a family. We were fortunate to get accommodation in a beautiful setting overlooking Wilson’s Promontory – in South Gippsland, Victoria. This was a time where we played as a family; explored the beaches and walking tracks; enjoyed games together and had peaceful rest at night. One of the activities I had planned was for us all to paint our own T Shirts. But before we did this, we spent time together developing a Family Logo and a Mission Statement for our family. We all agreed that a stylised LF inside a circle was a great logo for us as it showed we were together and bound together by the circle. Then our mission statement was simple: “Serving God by Caring for Others”. This mission statement was an extension of our role as pastors in a church as well as the mission and ministry we shared in our own community and in a wider context. Once we did this, we all painted our shirts, and proudly wore them as members of the Luttrell Family. At least one of these shirts has survived, and is hanging in Kevin’s office as a reminder to us of how important it was to spend that time with our children, and how that mission statement has become a reference point for our family. In very simple terms this statement expressed the centrality of our faith in all that we do, and how we must nurture our faith in order to serve others. This is a legacy for our family, a time where we really sought to understand what it is to be a family, what values we sought to pass on first to our children and now our grandchildren, and it also gives meaning to who we are and what we do in life. The caring is clearly seen in the choices of occupations for first our children and now our grandchildren, and we are so blessed by the legacy that begun all those years ago.
Billy Graham wrote – The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.
I have written before about the value of family traditions and how they work to define your family, and bind the family together. However, a legacy is the motivation to continue the traditions and to understand the value of those traditions in the life of each individual in that family. A legacy gives value and meaning in the lives of others. It’s not about things, it is about the difference we can make in the lives of others. A legacy builds hope and resilience in firstly your own life, which you then pass on to others. A recent example of this came out of a conversation we had recently with our granddaughter. She and her two siblings live in the Melbourne metro region, and they are facing quite severe lock down rules, which keep them largely confined to their home. We are so proud of the way they are viewing this circumstance, and using their time positively to focus on their studies, and stay connected with their extended family and friends. As we spoke about their feelings in these extraordinary times, our granddaughter shared a conversation she had with her paternal grandmother, a conversation that had to take place through a window because of the restrictions. They were talking about the difficult rules and her grandmother shared that in her life, she had never experienced such a thing, and because of this, she strongly encouraged her grandchildren to write about their experiences of this time, which would be a legacy for future generations. This was, and is very sound advice. Even in difficult times, we can discover new ways of coping, and in writing it down, we have the ability to express our feelings and how we manage those feelings. This type of activity is leaving a legacy for the future.
What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others. (Pericles)
Do not underestimate the importance of your words in other people’s lives. If you seek to build up hope and encouragement in others, you will leave a positive legacy, and establish good relationships in the process. When facing difficult times, it is important to draw on the lessons from the past, and find the hope to carry on. We are living in difficult times now, and for Kevin and I, we miss our family and friends and that personal contact with others so much, but keeping connected is so important, because what we say will instil hope and blessing to the lives of others, not just our family and friends, but in our communities. Use whatever means to keep in touch, and to speak life, hope and joy into the lives of others. We were sharing with others just yesterday at our church’s ZOOM gathering, and someone shared how special it was to receive a handwritten letter in the post. Yes, we have many means of communication, let’s use it.
May you find blessing and hope in your life.