Turning Pages into Legacies
During the initial weeks of the pandemic, what lifestyle changes did you make? Perhaps grandchildren stopped at your house, parked in the driveway, waved, and threw kisses. One of my friends completed several 1,000-piece puzzles and another devoured book after book. Did you self-isolate or set up lawn chairs with neighbors and chat six feet apart? Each of us spent those first unexpected days in unusual, sometimes creative ways. Except for puzzles, the experiences I mentioned were mine, but I added another. I sorted through photographs, slides, and memorabilia. It was one of those “when I have time, I’ll get to it” tasks. I now had time-days and weeks.
Viewing slides from fifty plus years ago was bittersweet. There were moments down memory lane I could identify as if they happened yesterday. For others, there was no recollection, no matter how many associations I made, Then there were sweet memories of people who have passed on or now live far away. I sorted through memorabilia in bins and reminisced as I read cherished notes, cards, invitations, and my daughters’ schoolwork.
My plan was not to merely to declutter and place some in a scrapbook or photo album, but to tell stories of God’s faithfulness. How could I expect my children to identify people and places or know the behind-the-scenes stories unless I identified the photos and shared their significance?
“We won’t hide them from their descendants; we’ll tell the next generation all about the praise due the Lord and his strength—the wondrous works God has done.” “Psalm 78:4”
For days, I gathered memorabilia and photos. With smiles and a few tears, I pondered their significance.
Photos of a dinner with several friends: Why were we gathered together? Who are the people in the picture? Why was it important? When did this take place?
A church bulletin: Why did we choose to worship at that church? Did we make significant decisions there? How were we influenced? How did we serve?
Another photo with friends: Was she a dear friend in my life that season? Was he a mentor? Why are we sitting at the piano?
A photo of a backyard picnic: We had no money for vacations; our contentment was in family at home.
An invitation: Why did I save it? Why was the event special?
A hospital bill: What happened? Were we afraid?
An old driver’s license; a photo of a For Sale sign: What was it like to relocate to another state and change jobs? Was it hard to adjust and make friends? Why did we move?
A travel brochure: Was it a business or family trip? Was the place significant to us? A dream trip?
A professional family photo: Was it a family reunion and who is in the picture? How many generations are represented?
A spelling test from third grade: Was school a struggle? Was that the year the children transferred to another school and made new friends?
Unless we tell our stories, they will be lost.
“One generation will praise your works to the next one, proclaiming your mighty acts. They will talk all about the glorious splendor of your majesty; I will contemplate your wondrous works. They will speak of the power of your awesome deeds; I will declare your great accomplishments. They will rave in celebration of your abundant goodness; they will shout joyfully about your righteousness.” (Psalm 145: 4-7)
One day, my grandchildren will turn pages in my albums and scrapbooks. As they read the notes I’ve written, I want them to see more than photos and stray memorabilia. I hope they’ll note the importance of relationships, celebrations, and struggles. Most of all, imbedded in stories are God’s love, mercy, and faithfulness, and as they add pages of their stories, my prayer is they’ll rely on the same. That will be my legacy. How can you convey the stories in your life?
Marilyn Nutter, of Greer, SC is the author of three devotional books, a contributor to magazines, on-line sites, and compilations. She is a Bible teacher and speaker for women’s and grief groups and serves on the women’s ministry team at her church. In her life’s seasons, she has met God’s faithfulness and clings to Lamentations 3:22-23. Visit her on Facebook at Marilyn Nutter or at http://marilynnutter.com/ to be refreshed and encounter treasures in unexpected places.