“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”—Deuteronomy 6:5(NIV).
My oldest son will turn 44-years-old next week. His younger brother turned 40 several months ago. For more years than I can recall, I’ve considered, but not followed through, on sharing in writing, the things God has laid on my heart.
Maybe it’s because writing books and blog posts have taken a front seat to my desire to pen the words I want to share with them. I’ve told them stories from my childhood. They’ve witnessed the change in me since I surrendered to Jesus almost 20 years ago but writing what’s on my heart hasn’t been a priority.
Recently, though, I read a devotional by Diane Neal Matthews. She had presented her mother with a journal called “Reflections from a Mother’s Heart: Your Life Story in Your Own Words.” Reading her mother’s replies to some of the questions in the journal, I recalled my own mother’s life. My mother didn’t share much from her past. Although my father had no trouble revealing his thoughts, my mother had a difficult time sharing the things on her heart.
Sharing from the Heart
Reading some of the written responses to the questions posed in the book Matthews had presented to her mother, I regretted not doing something similar before my mother passed almost 17 years ago. When Matthews read her mother’s answers, she said, “Although I already knew much of the information, I enjoyed gaining new insights into her memories.”
The only memories my mother shared had not been written down. However, one childhood memory she shared captured a mental photograph that still warms my heart. She shared her story at the dinner table one Thanksgiving, several years before her passing.
She recalled walking to a small, rural grocery store to sell eggs from my grandmother’s hens. These were The Great Depression years. Although my grandfather had a good job, times were still tough. Arriving at the store, my mother carefully unloaded the eggs she’d been sent to sell. Waiting on the store owner to pay her, she spied a display of candy. Even priced at a nickel, candy was a luxury. When the store owner returned, he saw my mother’s focus on the sweets. I guess he felt sorry for her because he told her to pick out one of her favorites. She chose a Snickers candy bar.
Learning from Sharing Memories
Matthews’ mother also grew up during The Great Depression. However, her response to the question, “Choose one word to best describe your life,” she responded, “Wonderful—I haven’t been perfect and have had some bad times, but I think I’ve had a wonderful life.”
Reading this, I wondered, “What would my mother have written in her memory book?” I also pondered, “What would I write to my sons if I were to answer that question?”
However, the response from Matthews’ mother to the last question, made me realize I need to get busy writing my own reflections. When replying to the question asking for life advice, Matthews’ mother wrote, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself.”
The Best Life Advice
Summing up her devotional, Matthews’ wrote, “The surest way to have a wonderful life is to have a love of Jesus scattered across the pages of our days and chapters of our lives.”
Those of us who have experienced more life than our children—even our grown ones—should reflect on our lives before it’s too late. Our experiences, good and bad, have shaped who we are.
More importantly, we need to share our love of Jesus and how He has transformed our lives. Our words don’t have to be eloquent, just from the heart. That’s the legacy I want to leave.