Owning My Story
Taking Responsibility for My Legacy
Our stories aren’t ours alone.
They bump into and overlap others’ stories.
When things go sideways for people close to us, our stories get jostled. Sometimes completely knocked off kilter. It can be difficult to find the edges, as our stories become inextricably entwined and enmeshed.
The points where stories intersect, or crash into each other, can be tricky for writers like me who share our stories publicly.
It’s like my my husband’s #depressionis story about his father’s suicide; it wasn’t mine to tell. In marriage, two stories become one, but, as in any type of relationship, intimate details are not one party’s possession to do with as they please. I appreciated Jeff’s willingness to be vulnerable and share his story of his father’s story.
Because Jeff’s dad’s story didn’t end with his suicide.
The repercussions of his experiences, his choices, and his actions have reverberated through the intervening decades. They distorted the lens through which my husband views the world. And himself.
I didn’t know John VanRy. But his relationship with his wife, his parenting, and his death impact my children’s lives. Events that happened in Vietnam before Jeff or I were born play a role in our children’s lives today.
What John experienced in Vietnam altered his perception of the world and of himself, which affected how he interacted with other people. Including his son. My husband. The father of my children.
It’s not that he was perfect father material before he went to Vietnam. A large part of his identity was already formed. Thinking about that today, as I ponder as I write, is a powerful reminder that each generation impacts the next, and that impact, for good or bad, affects the next, affects the next, affects the next… It can be overwhelming to stop and think about. We’re not responsible only for our kids, but also for theirs.
And what about all the other people our lives and their lives will intersect with?!?
Our brokenness goes back to Adam. One generation after another in bondage to sin.
What Jeff and I have to pass on to our children – through how we behave, the choices we make, how we treat them and each other – isn’t all bad. And here’s the best part: the Gospel.
You don’t have to be a parent to be part of this. In fact, each believer IS part of it, we just need to step up.
When Jesus came to earth, God inserted Himself into time in physical form. He sat with people, ate with them. People came to listen to Him. They came to see or receive miracles. He lived a sinless life and died a physical death. On the third day after His death, He was miraculously alive. Hundreds of people saw Him, and there were those who came to understand that He was the Messiah, a Messiah sent to win a different victory than they’d expected.
Here’s the awesome part. Those first believers told other people about Jesus. And others came to believe. The first generation of God’s children through Christ’s sacrifice shared the good news with the next. The testimony of those who knew Jesus, who walked with Him, who lived when He died, came down through the years, right to you. The knowledge that brought you to faith was transmitted generation to generation so you could know the Truth and have the Truth set you free.
As Christians, we have the most important, most powerful information there is.
What do we choose to do with it?
My past experiences are part of who I am; they inform the things I do and the choices I make. Do I let them control me, or do I let God’s Truth permeate me and make me more than just the sum of what I’ve done and what’s been done to me?
I am responsible for how my past affects my children’s present and future.
We are all responsible for what we do with the Gospel in our own lives and for the lives of others.
What legacy will we leave?
Are you weighted down by your mistakes and failures? Jesus didn’t die to leave you stuck in guilt and shame. We have ALL sinned and fallen short of His glory. When we accept salvation through His sinless sacrifice for our sin, we don’t have to walk in bondage or defeat. We are made new. We are free.
If you are haunted by things you’ve seen or experienced, my heart aches for you. But there is freedom and victory over, in, and through everything in Christ. It doesn’t mean you will be set free from the effects of PTSD, anxiety, depression, or intrusive thoughts, but you don’t have to live defeated.
We have the Good News
Love it. Live it. Share it.