What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?
For the past few weeks in Sunday School, couples from the church will come in and give their testimonies. Each couple is asked to talk about how they each became Christians, what they went through growing up, and how they met and fell in love. It's really cool to hear their stories and get to know people in the church better. As a youth group we've had some really good fellowship by simply asking them questions and talking about their lives with them.
And it's left me thinking about my life and what I want to be remembered for. As a senior, I have a unique vantage point. It's weird knowing my high school days are almost over (I'll finish all my required HS credits this semester). I've done a lot of reflection, looking back at the past three years and wondering if the reputation I've built for myself as a high schooler is the one that I really desire. I've been asking, Is this what I want my legacy to be? Is this what I want to be remembered for? Probably not.
For all of the great things I've done and for all the ways I know I've followed Jesus, there's a lot of things I did that I regret. I've done things that have hurt my reputation. I know we all have because nobody is perfect. But I don't want my reputation in college to be the same as my reputation in high school. In the first two years of high school, I was known for being a flirt, loose with my mouth, and for being arrogant, mean, perverted, and immature. The past year, my junior year, I got a lot better, but my sarcasm is still a defining characteristic. What's weird is that I felt like I had put that mostly behind me. I mean, my humor is a part of me, and I love laughing and making people laugh, but I also enjoy pushing peoples' buttons and making situations awkward (and I have a writer's vocabulary and imagination), so I have to be extremely careful with what I say.
During my first summer working at Life Action, the Christian family camp I attend and volunteer at each summer, I acted exactly like I said I acted my first two years of high school: I flirted, I was loose with my mouth, I was arrogant, mean, perverted, and immature. The next year, I changed. I went to Life Action that next summer planning on using my mouth to encourage and uplift instead of using it to tear down and be mean. I did what I set out to do, and people were astonished at how much I had changed.
One night at a testimonial, I shared about how I had decided to use my mouth to encourage instead of for mean purposes. Afterwards, I had several people come up and admit they were afraid to see me again that summer because they didn't want to be around me and my mouth. You know what I mean, right? It's like when you hate going to your grandparents' house for Thanksgiving because there's that one annoying family member there, but you have to go. That's how everyone felt about me. But when they saw how I had changed, people liked me.
But somehow over the past few months, my old mouth came back. I've noticed that my humor has become hurtful and my close friends have told me I need to stop. So I've decided to stop. I don't want to be remembered as the guy who couldn't stop the sarcasm or be encouraging. I want to be an encourager; up-lifting, kind, polite, and enjoyable to be around. As I said earlier, that doesn't mean I'll stop being funny; it just means I won't go for cheap shots with my sarcasm or be a jerk. That's not how I want to be remembered.