Your Legacy Will Live On Through Your Kids
I wasn’t sure where he would be in the pack as I focused on the first few runners crossing the finish line of a local 5k road race. This was the first time that my son, Ryan, was racing on his own. He’s competed in other races, but I always ran with him and kept him on a steady pace and encouraged him along the way.
This was unknown territory for my nine year old son. How would he respond? Would he quit? My eyes catch a glimpse of a little blonde figure moving in the distance. I strain to make out my son running towards me and my wife, Alia.
“Is that Ryan?” I point towards him.
“I think so!” Alia responds with excitement.
I catch a glimpse of his golden hair shining in the morning sun and pride fills my heart when I realize that Ryan is running very well and will finish in the overall top ten of the race. I clap as hard as I can and yell for him, “Great job, Ryan! You’re looking good!”
I see his legs move quicker, but his stride is strong and his running form is beautiful. I catch a glimpse of the expression on his face. He appears calm and confident as he edges closer to us. He’s doing fine. In fact, he’s doing way better than I expected.
I can feel the hot tears perch on my eye lids as Ryan floats by me and races towards the finish with a strength and speed that surprises me. My heart beats within my chest and I sense the shortness in my breath. As his father, I can feel the sensation of my lungs burning deep inside me, as if I’m racing with him. I know how he feels as he crosses the line and relaxes his body and slows his fatigued legs to a stop and attempts to catch his breath. I’ve been there thousands of times myself, but never from this perspective. I’ve never been the guy standing on the sidelines cheering on his son. I watch hopelessly as Ryan experiences his own level of pain and brokenness all by himself, without me there to run with him. It’s a train wreck of mixed feelings. I want to be by his side and support him, I can feel his pain, but I also feel pride in his accomplishment. I’m a mess, emotionally.
I peer over my shoulder and catch a glimpse of my dad sitting quietly in a custom made lawn chair, the same one my grandmother used to sit in when she watched my races, during my high school days. I smile at the irony of the situation and inevitable progression of life.
Not too long ago, I was Ryan. The young boy finding himself amidst the trials of a road race and discovering if I was good enough to race on my own, without the continual support of my father. My dad once stood in my spot as the proud father, watching his son compete and win on his own. One day, I will be where my father is right now. Old, tired, but satisfied to sit back in a chair and observe the race from a quiet distance.
I too will be satisfied that I’ve lived a good life and that my family is thriving and continuing the legacy that my father built and I expanded. Someday, I will gladly relinquish to the next generation and drift off into a memory, but until then, I run over to Ryan and give him a big hug.
“You did it, Ryan, how did you feel?” I ask peering into his eyes.
“I felt great, Dad, I’m glad you made it to watch me finish.” Ryan smiles back at me with pride.
“Me too, buddy.” I smile and wrap my arm around his neck. “Me too.”
Our role as parents are not to “run” with our kids. They must learn to run and compete in life on their own. Hopefully we taught them solid life principles and passed on a few good habits and limited the bad, but in the end, our primary role is to stand on the sidelines and cheer them on, so when they look over their shoulders, they will gain comfort when our eyes meet theirs and our souls connect once more.
Yes, our children must eventually face life on their own, but they must always know that we love them and support them in every circumstance. I was surprised that Ryan ran so well, but I shouldn’t be surprised. I trained him as my dad once did with me, and God is with him, and that is more than enough.
I still find my dad close by when I peer over my shoulder. Someday I will look for him and he will no longer be there, but his legacy will live on with me as mine will live on in Ryan long after I leave this world. That’s how life should be, so go love on your children and give them a little push towards life so they can thrive! As they grow and thrive, be content to step back and observe them from a quiet distance and witness your legacy live on in them until God calls you home.