No matter how old you are, you have a legacy. A legacy is the culmination of the lives you have helped create, the people you have taught by your own example and the lessons you have learned and passed on.
But those represent your external legacy – the things or people who are visible. What about your internal legacy?
A legacy can also be the collection of hurts, injustices and memories you carry with you from the past, that still pollute your present. I call it your “Story.”
We all have our stories…the way we package our painful memories, perceived losses and sorrow. The events that happen to us are objective – a job goes away, a spouse leaves, a parent or loved one dies. But it is how we interpret these objective events…the spin we put on them as they relate to us…that defines us. And what defines us is how we relate to and create our world.
It is just like a nesting doll – what is on the outside is not necessarily the same as what is on the inside. When you carry stories about the past and apply them to the present, you are adding layers to yourself and your perspective.
Think of it as having a conversation with yourself. Whatever you tell yourself about another person, place or thing is true…for you. That is why two people can watch the same event, the same people, and see totally different things. For example, you and I could sit through the same movie, and have totally different reactions. You could laugh at the places that made me cry and I could cringe at the parts that made you laugh. In the end, it doesn’t matter that we had different reactions to the same scenes or lines, because it is impossible for me to experience the exact same thing as you.
Once you accept that everyone has their own perspective and viewpoint, which is equally as valid as yours, you will have no problem with forgiveness. Why? Because you are not judging the other person to be wrong! Another way to say it - you allow the other person to have THEIR conversation about what you both just experienced.
For example -When you see a family member and you instantly think of a past incident or a negative thought (“He is such a bum – he will never make anything of himself”) you are carrying emotional baggage about that person. What he did or didn’t do in the past is his business and his choice, not yours.
What happens when you see that person again? Do you immediately think or say something related to the past? When that happens, are you living in the present moment or are you reliving the past, as you remember it and judged it? Your judgment about his choices keeps you tied to the past – he has probably moved on!
Your judgments and thoughts about the past color your perception of the present moment. Think about how you would react to that same person if you did not instantly remember the past when you saw him. If your reaction is different, then you know you know the past is coloring your present perception.
You can hold onto your past or you can learn from it.
A scene from the Lion King brought that home to me. Simba has been in exile for many years and is finally discovered by Naila, his childhood friend and Rafiki, the witch doctor. When Simba refuses to return home because he thought he had killed his father, Rafiki hits him on the head with his cane. When Simba complains, Rafiki points out that being hit on the head was in the past, but you still feel the pain. You either continue to relive that moment, or you learn from it and move on. Fortunately, Simba got the message and moved on with his life, reclaimed his path and his destiny.
What about you? Have you ever thought about changing your Story so your legacy is clear, sharp and well-defined?
“Forgive or relive” anonymous
But how do you forgive? There are many books and people teaching how to forgive, but why not go to the source – look at how Jesus taught forgivenss and follow his example.
When I was writing Walk With the Master, I imagined Jesus as he would have looked, walking the dusty streets of Nazareth. At the time of the story, he was about 20 years old – an adult in that culture – who had a presence and surety about him that was instantly recognizable. But more than his physical presence was his spiritual persona. When I tried to describe the impact he had on people, I realized that Jesus was the one person who ever walked the earth – who did not have any emotional baggage. He instantly forgave and never judged, and because he was God, God was always there to guide him.
That is all we have to do…allow God into the relationship or situation and ask that he guide our thoughts, words and actions.
Walk With the Master shows this process through the events in the story. The Faithful Companion Guide brings out the forgiveness lesson more clearly, and even sets out the steps to take. It is for anyone who wants to live a life free of their past stories.
As you think about your legacy and look over your life, why not release those stories who are covering up the real you — it is never too late to uncover who you really are!