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Fear or Faith: What’s Your Legacy?

Jerusha Agen Fighting Fear 13 Comments

girl-in-dark-forest-road (1280x853)The woman leaned in and said, “But my mother is so demanding. She has to get exactly the right thing or she won’t be happy.”

I reached for another card in the Mother’s Day section of the store and gave my fellow shopper my sympathies. I’d just met the woman, but in a few minutes I already had a clear picture of her 82-year-old mother who was so dissatisfied and exacting with her children that her sixty-something daughter approached Mother’s Day card shopping with the fear of a turkey in November.

The underlying issues that led to the mother’s dreadful behavior are likely many, among them probably pride, perfectionism run rampant, self-centeredness, and bitterness. But it’s equally safe to say that she likely has issues with the flipsides of those problems—insecurity, guilt, and the companion of these, fear.

Her behavior could be the result of her fear that her children don’t love her. Her fear that they resent her for mistakes she may have made in their upbringing. Her fear that if she loses control over them and her life, the worst that she fears will happen. Her fear that she has become useless and unimportant. Her fear that her life has no significance. Her fear of death.

Because this mother lets fear dictate her behavior, she’s negatively affecting the lives of her children and probably grandchildren, as well. From the way her daughter speaks of her mother to a perfect stranger, one thing is clear: this mother is leaving a legacy of fear.

mother-with-girl (1280x853)My mom, on the other hand, has the courage of a pioneer. She left her childhood home to become the first in her family to graduate from college. She went on to a doctoral program and chose the one in which women, at the time, were extremely scarce. She was rejected from one school because the institution didn’t allow women in that program, and she ended up being one of only five females in the program at her state’s university.

She excelled in the program and, after graduation, moved far away from her family to start a new business from the ground-up. She began the business with her husband (my dad) and, when their portions outgrew each other, she opened her own practice in her specialty.

After some years building a successful practice, she didn’t balk when the pioneer call sounded once again. She sold her practice and went to work as a full-time mom and teacher to her four children. At that time, home schooling was not at all the common and more accepted choice that it is now.  My mom had to deal with worried grandparents, doubting friends, and critical peers.

But she didn’t hesitate to sacrifice her own plans and desires to step out into the unknown, to forge a path that led to, as she says herself, greater satisfaction and value than her previous aspirations would have ever given her. The result of her efforts was four well-adjusted and rather accomplished adult children (myself excepted, of course). Most importantly, all of those children are passionate followers of Jesus Christ.

How did my mom have the courage to live as such a pioneer? She must be fearless. But, no, I know she isn’t. Like the rest of us, my mom struggles with fear.

mother-with-boy (855x1280)So what makes my mom so different from the mother that shopper described to me in the store? My mom fights the battle every day to be directed by faith instead of fear.

She left her hometown and loved ones to embark on new territory because she knew God went with her. She bravely turned aside from her career plan and dreams because she knew God had called her to walk a different path.

As a mother, especially when she had children of impressionable ages, my mom was careful not to pass down her fears. Instead, she was intentional about passing down her faith in the God Who overcomes and conquers our fears.

She taught me that God holds our past, present, and future in His hands. She taught me that He is good. She taught me that I can be safe in my Father’s arms for all eternity if I repented of my sins and asked to be granted His free gift of salvation. She taught me to go to my heavenly Father whenever I’m afraid, and He will protect and comfort me.

My mom is leaving a legacy of faith.

As Proverbs 31:28-29 says of the ideal mom:

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”

This is my mom. But here’s the thing: all of us, even those who aren’t mothers, are leaving a legacy.

Whether you have nieces and nephews, godchildren, or teach Sunday School. Even if you only interact with adult friends, family, or strangers. Your sphere of impact and influence is much larger than you think.

Will you leave a legacy of fear or a legacy of faith?

This following verse from Proverbs 31 may refer to a woman, but for my guy readers out there, don’t think you’re exempt from this. You, too, are leaving a powerful legacy in the way you live your life. If the only kind of fear you have is the fear of the Lord, your legacy will be one of faith.

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What kind of legacy did your parents leave you? What are you doing to be sure you leave a legacy of faith? Please share!


 

Fearless-Faith (244x400)In honor of my mom, I’m giving away a free copy of Jonathan Stephen’s fantastic little book, Fearless Faith: Learning to Trust Jesus in Every Situation. This book is a terrific step in making sure you’ll leave a legacy of faith. Comment below for a chance to win! [Winner randomly selected 5/22 and contacted via email. Winner must be continental U. S. address only.]

When fear takes hold we can feel powerless and insipid. Life’s spiritual battles become too much and the devil seems to be winning. It does not have to be like this though! We can, and do, have victory in Christ. Faith in the all-powerful One means that we are strong in him, even when we feel weak.

Jonathan Stephen writes with clarity and compassion to help us understand how the battle against the enemy can truly be won. He uses one of the best-known and most dramatic incidents in the Gospels, the stilling of the storm. As he draws our attention to what Jesus is teaching through this ‘faith-training exercise’ we join the disciples in discovering that when we are buffeted and frightened by the storms of life we can not only endure, but overcome.

Comments 13

  1. Angie Arndt

    I used to be fearless. But after several experiences that showed me how short life could be and having a relative that survived on fear, I’m afraid my fear is showing. This is such a timely post, Jerusha! One of the things I read each morning is, “Fear and faith cannot coexist.” Not sure where I got that. (Probably you!) I wonder, do you know the influence you have with your blog? Thank you for letting God use you to push us forward to do His will.

    Hugs!

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      Jerusha Agen

      Thank you so much, Angie, for this special encouragement today! Praise the Lord that He is using this blog in your life. I love that quote to start your day. (Sounds like something out of “Fearless Faith,” the book I’m giving away with this post!) SO true. If we have real, full faith, we will not fear. God will create and grow that kind of powerful faith in you, Angie. I pray you feel His peace and comfort today!

  2. MJ

    My mother is definitely leaving the legacy that you described in your post. It’s an interesting thought to turn it around onto myself and ponder what kind of legacy I’m leaving behind. Thanks for the encouraging and thought-provoking post.

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      Jerusha Agen

      I’m glad this post prompted some thought, MJ. What a blessing to have a wonderful mother who passes on a legacy of faith. Thanks for joining the conversation today!

  3. Patricia Bradley

    My mother had only a fourth grade education but she taught herself to read after becoming an adult and was successful on many fronts. She never quit and she passed that down to me.

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  4. Beth Sanders

    Jerusha, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful testimony to the goodness and grace of God! What a blessing it is to have a godly mom who is leaving the best kind of legacy she ever could. I am so grateful to God for my mom who, like yours, stepped out in faith to homeschool my sisters and me, and diligently raised us in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). It was good to be reminded, as well, that we also are impacting those around us — as the song “Find Us Faithful” says, “May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe, and the lives we live inspire them to obey.” May God help us to be faithful examples as we strive to become more and more like Jesus! Thanks again for sharing!

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      Jerusha Agen

      What a beautiful lyric, Beth! I’ll have to remember that one. I know that you are doing much to impact the lives of people, especially young girls, who you lead by example and instruction. May you continue to pass on faith to others! Thanks for joining the conversation.

  5. Katie Sanders

    Wow, Jerusha! What an inspiring story of courage and sacrifice your mom has! I’d love to learn more about her. I also liked how you turned the challenge on your readers to leave their own legacy of faith.

    I just have one quibble, perhaps based on my loyalty as a friend. 🙂 You may not be widely read yet, but you’re certainly NOT unaccomplished. Your writing is so vivid that scenes from This Dance are still embedded in my mind! (Since I can read again, I want to devour the entire Sisters Redeemed series, rereading This Dance.) I’m praying that God will open the right doors for you to be published. In the meantime, however, you’re leaving a legacy of faith with your books and blog. Until you started Fear Warrior, I never realized what a fearful person I am. Now I am aware of my struggle and looking for ways to combat fear. Thank you, Jerusha! May God richly bless you and your writing ministry!

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      Jerusha Agen

      Aww, that’s so sweet, Katie! Thank you! I’m so glad that you’re able to read more now (and that you’re choosing to spend that time on my books). How amazing that God is using this blog to make you aware of struggles that need to be combated in your life! That is so encouraging to hear, Katie. I pray God continues to give you the wisdom and courage to defeat your fears!

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  6. Kelly Goshorn

    Great post! So speaks to my heart. My mother was very much like the woman’s you met card shopping. God has been faithful in undoing fear in me. Its still a bit of a struggle, but it doesn’t have me in knots anymore and with God’s help, I’ll be leaving a different legacy for my children!

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      Jerusha Agen

      I’m so thankful this post touched your heart, Kelly. How very difficult it must be to overcome the upbringing of fear you experienced. I know God will use that for good ultimately in your life. It sounds like He already is, as you have learned from your childhood how to leave a very different legacy for your children! You’re so right, God’s help is the only way any of us can do that. And, praise the Lord, He forgives us where we may fail and will use all our efforts for good in the end. Thanks for sharing your heart, Kelly. As one fear warrior to another, stand firm!

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