Have you ever heard of Screven, GA? My guess is you probably have not. In the 2010 census it had a whopping population of 766 people. It is a quiet southern Georgia town with one red light and a gas station called “Friendly’s” but that little town was home to one of the most extraordinary women to walk the planet, my nanny, Hilda Harris.
We recently celebrated her life of 85 years with family and friends and it has had a significant impact on my life. My nanny lived a simple life, but she has changed the world. She taught me that you don’t have to be famous to make an impact. You can live a simple life of quiet faithfulness to God and leave a legacy for future generations.
Here are 3 things she taught me about living a life of legacy:
I am learning more and more about the power of a content life. I am not saying it is wrong to want to progress beyond what you have, but it is quite possible to learn to be happy with what you do have. My nanny raised six children in a home that is 1,600 square feet. You can do the math- with 8 people under one roof, that is approximately 200 square feet per person. She lived in that same house for 58 years and she was not bitter about it for one minute! And guess what? That house has been paid off for over 30 years. Imagine the peace of mind people would have if they didn’t have to pay a mortgage for 30 years. Contentment indeed can lead to great gain!
Change is a constant in our world today. I am a fan of change, but in the midst of change, some things need to remain constant. My nanny was consistent and steadfast. For instance, she was married to my grandpa for over 60 years. She worked for Suntrust Bank and retired after 27 years. If it was Sunday morning, Sunday night, or Wednesday night she would be at her church. That consistency has run throughout her family. Somehow a simple woman who was married to a sheriff’s deputy managed to raise 6 kids who all know the Lord and four sons who ended up in the ministry. Her children have been to 6 of the 7 continents to preach the gospel. I truly think that is a result of her consistency.
My nanny lived a long and full life, but it was not an easy life. Her father died when she was just a little girl and she was raised by a harsh uncle who treated her second class. Raising 6 kids is no joke either. She cooked, cleaned, and did laundry, and that was all before the sun came up and she went to work. She sacrificed, but she didn’t complain. She mowed her own grass all the way up until the end of her life. I mean, when was the last time you saw a 16-year-old boy in the intense summer heat mowing the lawn? My nanny was in her 80’s and push-mowing several acres of land.
She had something many of us lack, grit. Grit is the ability to go through the storm and come out on the other side without throwing in the towel. It’s courage in the face of uncertainty.
It may seem like I am sensationalizing my nanny. But I can’t help but think that maybe I would be better off if I quit trying so hard to be seen or noticed, or be a “somebody”, and just tried to live a life of contentment, consistency, and courage. I’ve seen how this type of life pays huge dividends after 85 years. This kind of life leaves a legacy.
Do you want to live a life that outlives you? Don’t focus on being seen or noticed. Simply devote yourself to finding contentment, consistency, and courage in your everyday life. The real heroes are the ones that work quietly and faithfully, with or without anyone watching.