Have you ever met people that were just so, I don’t know what, but you just couldn’t wait to be around them again? Their presence was just the highlight of your day and you couldn’t help but be in awe of who they were? I know a few of those people.
Age doesn’t matter
Recently, Ian and I attended a benefit concert for our friend Erin Zurflu. I met her in my CNA class the first year of college and I’ve absolutely adored her ever since. She’s sweet, friendly, incredibly smart, talented and athletic. She’s amazing and everyone that’s met her will confirm that.
When we found out she had cancer a few weeks ago, it was like we’d been punched in the stomach. We knew we’d be at her benefit, no matter what. And hundreds of other people felt the same way. She’s just such an important part of the community. And she’s only 29-years-old.
When I went to Donald Miller’s Storyline Conference last September, I met Jared Miller. Hid dad is Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love and No More Mondays. His brother Kevin founded Free Agent Academy.
I was there to meet those two and Justin Lukasavige, but I also got to meet Jared. He was tanned, bald with a long goatee and, frankly, one guy I would not want to meet alone in a dark alley. But he was also engaging and thoughtful, clearly a deep-thinker and one who seemed to enjoy solitude. I was glad that I got the chance to meet him.
Recently, his twitter and facebook name went from Jared Miller to Jared Angaza. What the heck was that all about? Was he starting a new business, branching off from his social-enterpeneurial venture with Keza Fashion? Nope. It was something so much cooler.
In May, he married his lovely wife Ilea. And, not being your ordinary couple, they decided that rather than Ilea taking Jared’s last name, they would create their own last name together, one that encompassed who they were and what they believed in. How cool is that???
And they chose Angaza – Swahili for enlighten and illuminate. You can read the whole story here, but it represents them well.
When Jared’s dad, Dan, talked about it on his podcast, he said, “I sure hope we can leave behind more than just a name” (or something to that effect), it made me stop and think, “Wow, am I doing that?”
What’s the point?
Jared and Ilea are pretty special people. They’re changing the world and making a big difference in the lives of African women who would otherwise be working the streets to feed themselves and their children.
So it makes sense that they would take on a name for themselves that encompasses their values and mission in this world.
But what makes them so special? Is it because Jared has a famous dad? Hardly, from what Dan says, Jared has had a heart for Africa since he was a little boy. What makes him so special is that he embraced the desires of his heart, his love for these people and acted.
So, the hard question, the finger-pointing question (this finger is pointing directly at me), is why haven’t I acted on the burning desires and longings of my heart?
Why am I not entrenched in meaningful, fulfilling, ordinary work that sings to my heart’s desires and God-given purpose in this life?
Fear. Lack of funds. Having so many children.
But will God really accept those excuses when I answer to him or will he say, “Really? Was I not bigger than your fear? Did I not always provide for you? Didn’t I bless you with those children so that your light would shine upon them?”
Anyone can do it
Creating a legacy isn’t something that’s done overnight. It isn’t only achieved by the super-rich. Missionaries don’t have the market on living a life of meaning and purpose. It’s done by the ordinary radicals, the ones who challenge “the way things have always been” and the naysayers.
The people that create legacies do what they were meant to do because the pain of not doing it would be so much greater than the pain of change and growth that comes with pursuing it.
How do you create a legacy?
It helps to know yourself and your passions. To quiet yourself and listen to that still, small voice who whispers to your heart. What makes you come alive? What movies do you watch that fill you with joy? What do you see that stirs such a holy anger that you know that you must do something? What would you do if money were absolutely no object?
Got it? Do it.
I must confess that this post is mostly a letter to myself. A “get your butt up off the couch and do something” call to action. I know the answers to those questions. I know that if I had unlimited funds I’d move somewhere that needed me and start an orphanage. I know that I’ve experienced immeasurable joy at the births of babies and body-quivering rage at the mistreatment of little ones. I know what makes me come alive. But why am I not doing it?
Throw the stupid box away
Maybe the thing you’ve been called to do just isn’t possible in this season of life. That’s ok. It just means it’s time to think outside the box.
Right now it’s not feasible for me to go start an orphanage in Africa (though, is it really not?), but I can offer to watch my friends’ kids while they go on dates to strengthen their marriages.
Having a mom and dad who love each other and have a strong marriage is an awesome gift to a child. Being a part of that would be an honor to me. And yet it would be so simple, so ordinary. And a way for my kids to see my joy in action.
Don’t put your calling in a box. Boxes lead to excuses and excuses lead to mediocrity. And I refuse to be a model of mediocrity for my children.
You don’t have to be rich or famous or holier-than-thou to create a meaningful legacy. You just have to be you – the you that you were created to be. Are you willing to step out of the box?