061: What Kind of Legacy Are You Leaving?
I have been spending a lot of time over the last few months thinking about the topic of legacy. Especially since my dad passed away at the end of January. I shared back in episode 13 my thoughts on what it means to leave a godly legacy.
However, my thoughts lately have been centering around what my family will have to deal with when I pass away one day. I know that sounds kind of morbid. And I’m not really trying to dwell on death. It’s just that I am the planning woman and I have had some recent experiences where I’ve learned just how important it is to have your affairs in order so that your family does not have to deal with so much.
Of course, we all should do our best and plan ahead by having a will drawn up, possibly purchasing life insurance, and just generally making our wishes known to our family.
But I have thought about some other things that we need to make sure are in order.
You can hear the full story on the podcast, but I want to share a little bit about what my mom and I have gone through over the last few months.
While my dad left my mom in a pretty good place having taken care of his will and life insurance, he did not fully finish disposing of some of his papers.
He was an avid train lover. His job was in the railroad industry from the time he was 16 until he retired at age 62. He wrote a huge 500-page book about railroads.
He had a ton of research from that book. Some of it was designated to go to certain individuals and organizations. However, there was a lot left he had not done anything with.
Thankfully we had a railroad archivist that came in and helped us go through what was left. If it weren’t for him, my mom and I would still be going through papers.
I share that story because it perfectly illustrates the point I’m trying to make. When we think of legacy, we often think of leaving an inheritance, whether monetary or spiritual, but we don’t often think of how to make the lives of our family members easier when it comes to dealing with our stuff after we’re gone.
I have had several friends who’ve had to deal with whole households full of stuff because their parents never went through or got rid of anything. And even if you’re not dealing with a whole house, chances are there are at least some possessions that you’ll have to figure out what to do with.
The death of a loved one is hard enough to deal with on its own. Having to spend months or years dealing with their stuff only makes it worse.
So I’m proposing we start taking a look at what we consider to be important in our lives. What are we holding on to that we should think about letting go?
Because, in addition to making things easier for our family after we pass away, we need to think about what legacy we’re leaving now in the sense of what we hold out to be important. Are we passing on to our kids and grandkids the value that possessions are the most important thing? Or are we passing on the legacy of a close walk with God and placing value on eternal things?
I’m not saying possessions are bad or wrong or sinful. I think the problem comes when we put too much of a focus on our possessions instead of relationships and other more important things.
Another reason this topic of legacy in this sense has come to mind is that I’m going through a home organizing program right now. I’m spending time each day in different areas of my home decluttering what I no longer want, love, or need. Then I am organizing what’s left in a way that makes sense to me and makes my home feel and look better.
I think a lot of us say we want to get organized. But I think what we really mean is we want to get rid of the clutter. Here in America, most homes are filled with so many things that really have no value in our lives. I know that’s the case in my own home. I’ve realized so much of what I’ve been holding on to is no longer useful to me.
What I want to share are some ways to use this idea of legacy and what we leave for our family to deal with as motivation for looking at our stuff in a different way. And hopefully, that will propel us into action to do something about it. I know my eyes have definitely been opened. I don’t want my family to have to deal with any more than necessary.
Focus on the here and now.
How do you want your kids to remember their time with you? Do you want them to recall with fondness how you had time to visit with them? Or do you want them to remember that you always had to clear off a chair so they could sit down?
I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad by asking these questions. I’ve had times in my own life where my home was a chaotic mess. Even now, there are still some areas of my home that need help. That’s why I’m going through this organization program.
Also, think about all those things you hold onto and only use for special occasions. I think we should celebrate life every day by pulling out our good dishes instead of saving them for special occasions. I’m a big believer in the idea that if you have something you were willing to spend the money on, then you should use it as much as possible.
Let’s not wait for the perfect time or special occasion to enjoy life to the fullest. Let’s start today making the most of what we have.
Think about what your clutter is costing you.
This goes beyond what your kids or other family members may think or remember. I’ve found out that clutter costs you time, your sanity, and your ability to be productive.
When you are constantly having to pick things up and find a place for them your mind gets distracted. It can throw you off from the important tasks you should be doing. Clutter is can even affect us physically. Whether you realize it or not, clutter can contribute to a heavy spirit and lack of peace. When you release a lot of your clutter, you will feel your spirit get lighter. You’ll begin to think more clearly. It really is like having a burden lifted off your shoulders.
Think about the future.
What do you want your family to have to deal with when you’re gone? I know none of us can predict the day we’ll die, so it’s best we prepare as soon as possible. Again I’m not trying to be morbid. I’m just thinking about our families.
Make a plan for some of your most treasured possessions. You may even want to take photos of some of your things. Then put the photos in an album with information about them and list who should get them.
If you have items that should go to a specific place like my dad did, make sure you put the information about where they should go in a place where your family will know to look for it.
Take the time to go through your things now and start to get rid of the unnecessary. Not only will this save your family from dealing with these things in the future doing this will also help you live with a lot more peace right now.
So will you join me in committing to begin to think about your stuff, start to let some of it go, and make a plan for what you want to happen to it after you’re gone?