The day came a lot faster than I ever imagined. I mean, as a mother of two girls, I knew the day would come eventually. But now? So soon? TELL ME IT ISN’T SO.
One day, you are changing diapers and washing spit up out of your shirt. And the next… GIRL. DRAMA. In kindergarten. As in a little girl made my sweet Abigail cry because of an unkind exchange on the playground at school.
I worked late, but when I got home, she’d saved all those tears for me. She crumbled in my lap and cried her little heart out as she tried to relay the story between sobs. I held her and listened and stroked her hair. I maintained a calm, compassionate exterior, but on the inside, I was caught somewhere between momma-rage and denial. I mean, how dare this child hurt my baby!? I assumed this wouldn’t start until first grade, but no. Here it is. Good gracious. Once we all calmed down, our discussion turned toward the five-year-old version of addressing conflict head-on, taking responsibility for our part, and always being kind and gracious regardless how others behave. Our bedtime conversation recapped the highlights, concluding with, “Sweetie, you are part of this family, and we choose to do the right thing, even when it’s hard.”
Then I whispered a prayer for God to firmly establish that truth in her heart because life brings plenty of opportunities to practice doing the right thing even when it’s hard, doesn’t it? Criticism. Betrayal. Tragedy. Even opportunities that are good, but only at the cost of best. What’s the filter for our behavior and our decisions? What decides how we spend our yes’s and no’s?
In short: our core values.
Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding core values:
- They are written. If we can’t clearly articulate them, how can we be sure we are living them, much less teaching them to our children?
- They guide behaviors and decisions. Core values become a funnel through which we pass behaviors and opportunities. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t pass. Is creating margin a core value? If so, it could mean saying “no” to overtime, a new extracurricular, or a volunteer opportunity. Is giving generously a core value? It could lead to purchasing less or limiting your standard of living so you can give more. Is family-first on the list? A job opportunity with weekly travel may not be a fit when your kids are young. Is grace or forgiveness a core value? Then uprooting bitterness is a must, no matter how tiny or enormous the offense.
- They are revisited often. It’s not enough to write them once and hope they are remembered. They must be reviewed often, and when they are clearly lived out - celebrate BIG time!
Our friends Randy and Ashley recently shared their passion for establishing a clear list of family values. Like many, they feel the temptation to give-in to norms they don't want for their family, so they took time to decide what's important. They want their children to grow up with a clear filter for how The Danes live and make decisions. This custom sign (photo on the right) hangs in their entryway as a daily reminder of their commitment.
Hear me on this: If our core values aren’t decided in advance, we will flounder when life gets heavy and hard, or when busyness clouds our judgement. Why just “hope” we do the right thing, or “hope” it all turns out o.k.? What if we got super specific and consistently intentional?
Without a clear roadmap of the legacy we are building, we could easily arrive at the end of our lives and totally miss the mark. But with a roadmap, we not only have the opportunity to leave a legacy, we have the opportunity to live one.
Join the discussion by commenting below: What are one or two core values you want to build into your legacy? What's a simple change you can make to more fully align your life with your core values?