Inheritances are great benefits when we receive furniture, money, or property. But what about the stuff we don’t want?
We desire happy and prosperous lives for our children. We want them to walk a better path than we had. We think about possessions we want to bequeath to certain individuals, but do we ever contemplate what we would rather not leave behind?
We read a lot about generational curses, but most of these behaviors and attitudes are adopted from an environment of imitation.
To avoid unhappy memories for our heirs, we can determine ahead of time to take care of these 6 things we don’t want to leave to them.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Those who live around us absorb what they hear and see. We may think we are good role models, but they still notice if we continually mull over faults. If they listen to our defeated rehearsal over the past, they have no guidelines for learning how to overcome transgressions and mistakes they make. As they grow older, they can be led to think there is no hope of redemption for them either.
Our history can be a learning opportunity if we use the events in the correct way. When we display victory over sin or success after blunders, our yesterday can be a constructive road to growth. But if we live in a rut, spinning our wheels about how we wish life had been different, we cannot devise a legacy of success.
2. Unforgiveness and Bitterness
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
King David’s son, Amnon, desired Tamar, the sister of his half-brother Absalom. When she wouldn’t submit to Amnon’s sexual advances, he assaulted her (2 Samuel 13:12-14). Absalom’s rage simmered for two years because of this event and his hate grew stronger until he murdered his brother (2 Samuel 13:28-29).
The famous Hatfield and McCoy feud in early American history cost lives on both sides of these families. William Shakespeare described the cost of bitterness that was passed down to the next dynasty in his portrayal of Romeo and Juliet.
In an episode of the TV sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show, a valuable lesson was taught from a comedic perspective of how unresolved emotions of days gone by can affect offspring. In this case, the Wakefields and Carters had been feuding for over 80 years and when Sheriff Andy pried a little deeper, it was revealed that the current family members didn’t even know what started the war. At least the wise TV lawman was able to diffuse the situation and bring reconciliation.
How much better to avoid harboring resentment toward others in the first place. Then these feelings aren’t allowed to fester and plant an evil root in familial pedigrees.
3. Wrong Beliefs
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
When a person absorbs the assumptions and traditions of their ancestors but doesn’t know the foundation of those perspectives, it can be dangerous. Even biblical beliefs should be investigated by individuals to ensure they have the meaning of those conclusions and not just because Mom and Dad did or said it.
To live by a doctrine that is not biblically based can lead someone away from God and down a path of death. Wrong impressions about the Lord can lead to committing sin. They may blame Him for events just because someone else in the family did. Our faith should be grounded in what the Bible says and not according to another’s philosophy (Colossians 2:8).
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4. Bad Habits
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Habits can range from alcoholism to nail-biting to damaging conversation. No matter what the degree of destructiveness, we wouldn’t want to pass on our harmful picked-up traits to the next generation.
Knowing we are watched can be a motivating force to us for improvement in our own behavior. Watching a child mimic our actions can be eye-opening. Little boys like to follow their dads, imitate his gait, and wear their hats the same way. Girls love to dress like mom and play in make-up. These are cute and give us a thrill, but it can also show us they don’t know the difference between absorbing a negative trait or something fun.
Many of us may have experienced the embarrassing moment when a child has blurted out something heard at home that wasn’t meant for anyone else’s ears. Even things said in jest can be misinterpreted by those around us.
Children are our mirrors. We can see ourselves in their actions or speech and we can use that revelation to change so we can teach them to imitate the discipline it takes to overcome a bad habit.
A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. (Proverbs 13:22)
There are cases where people have inherited land or houses only to find out an exorbitant amount of back taxes was owed. Unable to pay the lien, the beneficiaries must sell the property, and in some cases, don’t even profit enough to lift the lien. They are left without an endowment and saddled with more debt than they had before.
Our successors don’t need the strain of liabilities we incur. We would rather bless them with gifts than burden them with financial choices we made that built a mountain of bills left unpaid.
If our adult offspring have obligations of their own, adding ours to their already financially stretched lives can cause anxiety and worry.
The best thing we can do is not accumulate more commitments than we can pay off and find ways to eliminate what we do have as quickly as possible.
6. Incomplete Legal Advice
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22)
Dying without a will consigns a myriad of problems for beneficiaries. Those left to deal with property, burial choices, and distribution of personal belongings have these headaches added to the grief of losing a loved one. Dividing the assets of a home can cause stress and in some cases arguments over who should get what. This can be prevented by taking measures ahead of time to properly distribute houses, furniture, and valuables. Discussions about how this should take place can prevent added anxiety to experiencing the death of a parent.
Once a will and other legal documents have been prepared, it is also important to make sure someone knows their location and how to access them.
Previous households didn’t have the benefit of technology we have today, so they didn’t have the added care of computer security. Most people have computer accounts with passwords and usernames. Instructions for access to these items should be left with an executor or relative. When an individual dies, these records should be closed. To allow online registrations to remain open is an invitation for hackers to take over a deceased person’s identity. An inventory of online accounts with the username and passwords can be added as a digital will.
Prepare Now for Peace Later
As we examine our own lives, we can determine if anything we have said or done will hand down a hardship on our descendants. If so, we can take steps to repair breaches and instigate change.
The earlier we do this, the easier it is to keep our legacy positive. But it is never too late. Anything we process while we are still on the earth can be a good step toward leaving a godly inheritance to our families.
As they see us examining our conduct for change and observe how we planned for their benefit, we can set a precedent for them to leave healthy memories to their own progeny later.
Preparation in the present is the key to peace in the future.
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Barbara Latta is a true southerner and is transplanted from Arkansas to Georgia. She writes a monthly column in her local newspaper and contributes to devotional websites, online magazines, and has stories in several anthologies. She is the author of God’s Maps, Stories of Inspiration, and Direction for Motorcycle Riders. She enjoys traveling with her Harley-riding prince on his motorcycle taking in the creativity of nature. Drinking coffee on the patio while the sun comes up is her favorite time of day. Barbara shares about walking in grace and thriving in hope on her blog, Navigating Life’s Curves, at www.barbaralatta.blogspot.com. She cherishes her role in life as a wife, a mom to two grown sons, and Mimi to one granddaughter.