August 9, 2021

Leaving That Legacy

Chris Pepple

My children have their own careers now. Oh, how time flies. I remember holding them as babies when they couldn’t sleep. We rocked for hours, and I read books to them at bedtime even before they could understand what I was reading to them. I enjoy the pictures that remind me of all of our many adventures together and of their moments to shine in plays and concerts or sporting events. I’m so proud of the young adults they have become.

When they were younger, I started thinking about the legacy I wanted to leave my children. We often spend a lot of time thinking about the financial and legal aspects of what we need to leave behind for those we love. It’s critical that we make wills and leave written, legal documents so that our wishes will be fulfilled. What else are we writing for our children or our nieces and nephews or grandchildren, though? Are we spending time leaving a written legacy?

Hopefully our actions speak volumes about what we believe, and we model for our children the type of life we hope they lead. Often, though, our children don’t know much about our actions. They are too young to remember or are in school when we are volunteering. They are at swim practice while we are sitting with an elderly relative. They may not know the details about what we do, much less why we do it. That’s where our writing comes in.

Fiction writing is a great place to create characters that model for others what we would like to see in life. Through the characters and the plot, we can show others what we would like to see in the world. We can have characters discuss integrity and hope and kindness. Characters can struggle with issues that we struggled with and resolve those issues in ways our children may have never realized could be possible. They may not have realized our struggles or may not have seen how we overcame them (or wished we had because we realized later that we made the wrong choice). Our stories can leave a written legacy for the next generation.

Our nonfiction writing has the same potential. We can leave behind a written legacy that details what we believe and why we believe it. It’s there whenever the next generation needs a word from us even if we are living in different cities or time zones or even if we are ill and no longer able to communicate well.

I wish I had more written words from my grandmother. I know she faced many challenges in her life, and I know that her faith and her strength helped her overcome those challenges. I don’t know, however, what her words would be about all that she faced. What advice would she give me? What would she tell me about her faith? What would her written legacy to me have been if she had been a writer? I found poems by my great-grandmother that give me insight into her faith and her decisions when life was hard. I cherish those poems scribbled out on yellowed paper.

Our faith and life legacy can be published or unpublished, but it needs to be written. We can all share our voices and tell our stories so that the next generation can hear from us firsthand what we hope for them. What written legacy—fiction or nonfiction—are you leaving for others?

Chris Pepple is an award-winning author and a freelance writer, manuscript consultant, and editor living in Germantown, Tenn. As a published author, her works include Looking, Seeing (2018), Without a Voice (2017), Two Frontiers (2016), Writing Your Faith Journey (2016), Look to See Me: A Collection of Reflections (2006) and Reflections on Suffering: Defining Our Crosses and Letting Go of Pain (2012). Her first novel, Two Frontiers, was a 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist.

She was a long-time writer-at-large for Southern Writers Magazine, interviewing national authors for each issue. My articles have appeared in many other local and national publications, including Delta Magazine.

She speaks to writing groups on topics such as self-publishing, how to find your own creative voice and how to break writer's block. Along with speaking to writing groups, she also speaks nationally to churches and nonprofit organizations on a variety of motivational and spiritual topics.

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