The Legacy of Home

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LOOK AT YOUR MARRIAGE THROUGH THE LENS OF GENERATIONS TO COME—WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO LEAVE THEM WITH?

It was the hottest day of December in 1979, the day our lives were joined for nothing less than forever. That was our commitment, and it remains our commitment today. As we drove away from our wedding reception, jaws sore from all the smiling, our hearts were filled with joy and expectation of delightful adventures ahead.

Our very first adventure together was a camping honeymoon! We still reminisce about the time we nailed all the tent pegs into the ground and hoisted the tent up toward the sky. A bucketload of confetti suddenly burst out from our tent and thousands upon thousands of bright paper droplets carried along by a nor’easter showered the campground. Mark’s buddies had left us a colourful surprise, and for the next week we were nicknamed the “confetti kids” by the bemused yet understanding camp site owners. That was thirty-seven years ago …

Now, the years have passed and the confetti has settled. Three children born and now grown into adults, all married with children of their own. Our five (almost six!) grandchildren call me “Nana Bear”. Meanwhile, Mark goes by a gorgeous imitation of Pop, “Bop”, born from the lips of our first grandchild and carried on by the rest.

I don’t recall as a girl of nineteen years old really ever contemplating what it means to carry a legacy. My nana taught me to knit and that for me was a special moment, now a sacred memory of a connection that lives on in my heart. So, perhaps I knew just a little. There is an obvious tangible meaning of “legacy”, accounted for empirically, like the amount of money or property left to someone in a will. But what of the intangible inheritance? What of beauty, love, generosity, friendship and blessing? Of leadership and servanthood?

Legacy (for me) begins with a dream, a vision to journey together, “till death do us part”. That’s the one big thing I’ve carried closest to my heart—to dream together and keep dreaming together, through every season. It means that we each look to a common horizon, walking hand-in-hand towards the same direction.

I have always found that together we are better, even as the dream is contested along the way.

Challenges, difficulties and opposition arise that require tenacity, a fighting spirit and a dedication to hold fast to the dream. Many will fight in their marriages, but the most constructive fight we can engage in is the fight for our marriages and the fight for our families. I am a fighter, and I am grateful to know what it looks like to enjoy the rewards of the battle. Every couple will face troubles of some kind, things that test you to the very core of your being.

I remember one such season of our life together. We moved to New York and lived there for nine years. The early days were incredibly hard; raising three small children aged seven, five and two, sparse finances, and the container with all our earthly belongings didn’t arrive when we did, forcing us to sleep on the floor of our newly rented house.

The kids couldn’t start school as our paperwork verifying their immunisations was still sitting on the Australian docks. There was no extended family around us and no friendship network to speak of (we did meet one lovely family, which we were grateful for). It was the late 80s, so there were no mobile phones, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter—no computers at all! We did have a landline but the cost of phoning home was seven dollars a minute, so that was only to be used in case of emergency. Suffice to say it was a very lonely time.

I took myself off for a walk one day feeling incredibly overwhelmed by our situation. It was a bright, sunny, clear blue sky kind of day, but it felt so terribly dark to me. I doubted whether or not I had the “stuff” to travel through this wilderness-like experience. Spoiler alert: I gradually came to discover that I did! In fact, I discovered that I was built for the stretch.

Looking back on those days I thank God for them, for there is beauty to be found in every wilderness. To find that your faith and hope is alive and strong despite your circumstance, that your bond of love and friendship with your man is real and sure, and to know that this little family can and will flourish regardless of external conditions is both humbling and heartening. A form of legacy in motion.

The fight is … well, a fight! But the reward of staying the course? Well, it is truly stunning. It’s seeing our children and grandchildren growing strong and able to face the road ahead of them with confidence and courage. They have a history that encourages them to raise a generation that will make a difference in this world.

I believe we are here to make the world a better place. That betterment starts in our homes.

Many years ago I read a quote from a book called Dream Home by Mark Wakely that I’ve treasured ever since: “… houses become homes only when we take up residence in them, christen them with love and memories, make them the centre of our world … at the end of the working day we go home, we don’t go house … for a house to become a home, I think you need to feel positive about the place: secure, rooted, comfortable (at home not at house) and able to express yourself within its walls.” The home for us has always been the canvas upon which we have laid down the colours, tones and hues of family life. Within the walls of our home we, with all the love and creativity we could muster, created a beautiful, peaceful space for our children to find acceptance, affection and attention. We wanted home to hold the number one position in each of our hearts. We understood early on that we all needed our emotional tanks filled on a regular basis, and that home was the filling station. It was hard work, and it was daily work, done in the midst of busy lives often flooded with pressure. However, it’s in the details of this work that a secure foundation is erected for future generations to come.

Early on, Mark and I gained a piece of wisdom that resonated with us both, that the greatest gift we could give to our kids was a loving, respectful, kind and strong marriage. Our togetherness was their greatest gift.

The beginning is a coming together and then the staying together is a progression which involves lots of conversations and lots of working things out. Mark has a little motto of sorts regarding marriage: “Opposites attract, then they attack, and then they attach.” It’s in the times of attack, those little things that get on your nerves and those bigger things that pose challenges to your dreams of “forever”, where legacy is truly forged. If you can work through this somewhat tumultuous time, what follows is a truly beautiful time of attaching and bonding together where you get to celebrate and even enjoy the differences again. In other words you quit trying to change each other and instead there is acceptance.

There is an erroneous thought surrounding marriage, that if one gives half and the other gives half then they will have a whole union. The reality is different—a successful marriage is the coming together of two whole people giving 100 per cent of themselves, laying down selfish ways to serve and give their all to their husband or wife.

Legacy is sparked by the daily investment into each other. It is doing away with unrealistic expectations of one another, believing in each other, and being the very best we can be for each other. It’s about loving, laughing and dancing our way into a future of adventures together. And it’s recognised once you have the perspective to look back and gasp with joy at the legacy you’ve woven over several years of doing the little things well.

Credits

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Carly Tia