Fear, Seasons, and Your Legacy

It’s Fearless Friday, and I’m so excited to introduce another guest writer to you!  John and I have had the privilege of walking alongside Kari and Matt Norman for several (10??) years now.  They are a remarkable young couple who lead authentic, examined lives of faith in Jesus.  You’ll see that from Kari’s words today!

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Last Wednesday my husband and I watched our twin boys climb up the school bus stairs, smile and wave through the window, and head off for their first day of kindergarten.  It was a marking moment, and one I’d envisioned in my mind’s eye many times.

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I had been holding it together so well!  Until the day before… when despite best efforts, I cried at the parent teacher conference when asked if this was my first child entering kindergarten.  I said, “Yes, my first, and my second.”  Pause.  “And my last, all at once.”  Cue the tears.  The teacher reached across the table, held my hand, gave me a look that conveyed genuine care, as well as a nod that seemed to say, “You can hold it together.  Really, you can!  Um, please…  can you?”

She didn’t know that I’d had six miscarriages along the way.  One before, and five after the boys.  And that more than anything as a kid, what I’d wanted most in my adult life was a big family.  I’d especially looked forward to the young years.  My story turned out differently than I’d hoped for, and a much anticipated chapter was now coming to a close.

After the boys were born, I went to a 3-day a week schedule in a job that I loved.  It was a great situation overall.  But about three years ago I began to feel a strong nudge to quit, even though for many reasons, I didn’t want to.  Most of the reasons were rooted in fear.  Fear of all I’d give up, career-wise, that I’d worked hard to build.  Fear of being bored or lonely, or less interesting in cocktail conversation.  Fear of what other people would think.

But a very distinct image kept rolling through my mind.  Again and again for months.  It was of me and Matt waving as the first kindergarten school bus drove away.  And I wanted to know, when that day came, that I gave the best of me to the things that mattered most to me while I still had the time.  To me that meant God first, family next, and community after that.  So I mustered up the courage, resigned from my successful situation, and dedicated the next season fully and wholeheartedly to those three things.  And it’s been a rich three years.  More than I’d imagined.

I recently read a book called “Halftime, Moving from Success to Significance” by Bob Buford.  He quotes Augustine, saying that “Asking yourself the question of your own legacy – What do I wish to be remembered for? – is the beginning of adulthood.”  It was, in essence, the question I was asking myself at the time.  In the book’s foreword Jim Collins writes, “We only get one life and the urgency of getting on with what we are meant to do increases every day.  The clock is ticking.”

Three ways to lean into a life of significance:

1.  Recognize the seasons.  They pass quickly.  Ask yourself what you wish to be remembered for in each.  Pursue those things with your full vigor and might.  Even when it’s uncomfortable.  Even when it’s hard.

2.  Don’t get to the end of this season (or worse, this life), realizing you lived it for the world’s applause, only to miss what defined “significance” to you, and to your Maker.  Don’t let fear stop you from accepting God’s invitations to release the calling and the seeds of energy and creativity planted uniquely in you.

3.  Remember that God is the author of your story, and He loves you like no one else.  The story He has in mind for you is probably different than the one you have in mind for yourself, if you’re truly willing to join Him for the ride.  Sometimes He’ll cut chapters you don’t want cut, and He won’t give you a choice.  Other times, He’ll invite you into a choose-your-own-adventure.  But choose wisely…  the richest parts of the plot often lie behind the chapter headings that appear scary, or unsuspecting, or both.

What do you wish to be remembered for  – in this season, in this life?

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7 Comments

  1. This was such a great post. Thank you Laura for giving space for Kari to share. Everything she shared is so “right on” – it’s all about following God’s promptings in life – and they come in different measures – some we get to choose and others we just have to accept. But God IS faithful and loves us so much more than we often times comprehend. I hope I can live a life that would reflect “faithfulness” . . . in spite of failing too many times . . . I desire to end well in faithfulness.

    • You ARE another great model of one living faithfully and well in a new season!! What an encouragement you are to so many! I love it that God uses Kari in one season of life, and you in another! Love you!

  2. What an encouragement this post is for me and my wife!! Thank you Kari for writing and Laura for posting. This post is surely a timely reminder of the ‘Main Thing’ in our lives, our families.

    My wife had 5 miscarriages before we got to see our first child; a baby girl that passed on the forth day! We couldn’t understand!! No one seemed to provide the correct answer except God. It was until when we realized that even under that hard times, God had to remain the ‘Main Thing” in our lives. We now have a daughter and a son!

    We have wanted to have another or two without much success! Sometimes nature tries to set it but we are quickly reminded by (I think) the Holy Spirit to keep or focus on God. It looks like there is a special God’s plan! We have learnt to let His will be done first.

    • So glad God used Kari’s words to encourage you Richard! I think of 1 Corinthians 1:3-4 when I think of Kari. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Press on, friend!

      • Hi Richard, this is from Kari. I’m glad our story could be an encouragement to your family, halfway across the world, as you face similar trials. Laura tells me you work with the World Vision kids in Rakai. In a way, perhaps your losses make you more available to do God’s work in the lives of these kids, who are, in a sense, very much your children too. I like to think that way about the other kids in my life. Thankfully, we will get to be with our lost ones for eternity, and for now, we can be of good use to others, loving them in God’s name.

      • Yes, this story has been such a great encouragement!! Thank you Kari.

      • Kari,

        Yes, I looked at all children very much like my children. I told my wife that ‘God has brought so many other children our way’ as we discussed the topic at one point. It was disturbing to understand but I am glad now she knows well what i meant.

        Thank you again for sharing.

        Richard

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