Rachel Jenae

Being Family

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I’ve thought a lot about the word legacy this year. Two family trees collided at my parents and they brought together two distinct lines of inheritance that carry quite the legacy. I think about what I will tell my children “being a Tankersley” means or when they are acting out of character how I will tell them “that’s not how we act as a Tankersley” (obviously we’ll have a different last name, but you get the point). The more I think about it, the more I realize there are three things that quickly come to mind. Three areas that I see deeply engrained in my siblings, my parents and my grandparents. Three areas that reflect what it means to “be a Tankersley”

1) It means treating everyone great and loving well. Not treating people different because of where they come from, what they wear, the color of their skin, their status, their title, or where they go or don’t go to church. It means you’re loved and accepted to come over for dinner. I can’t remember ever seeing my parents treat someone poorly. They didn’t get all excited and treat someone different because they made more money than someone else. They didn’t not invite someone inside because of how they dressed and because they didn’t know them. I’ve never seen my parents or grandparents play “politics” or manipulate to get the outcome they wanted. Being a Tankersley means you treat everyone great. They are valued simply because they are here, created by God and not because of anything else.

2) It means the door is always open. Literally. My parents only started locking their front door when it wouldn’t stay shut. I think it’s a great example of a well worn front door when it won’t even stay shut once you’ve closed it. My parents live along a very busy highway, so people are always stopping in for one reason or another. They are quickly welcomed inside with no hesitation. They are acknowledged wether they’ve been there a hundred times or just once. They are invited to sit down at the kitchen bar and many times quickly offered a drink. Those visits may last 5 minutes or they may last 5 hours, but their they are sitting, listening, giving an ear to whoever is at their table. When I visit my extended family and my grandparents I see it there too-engrained into who they are-welcoming, inviting, making time.

3) It means we never stop growing. We never grow complacent and dig a hole in the ground to put our heads in. While this would have to be inspected on an individual basis, I see this in so many of my family members. My grandfather who is now 92 shared a few teachings over Christmas that he’d recently studied and prepared for his bible study at church and there it was–he was still growing and learning and being challenged. Growing toward the Lord. Growing toward freedom. Growing toward giving his life away. Then I look at my grandparents on my dad’s side and my dad, and I see them being very intentional with visiting the elderly and getting outside their own bubble to connect, love and invest in the lives of others. My grandmother is always readying, sending me clips about missionaries and how she prays my marriage will be like that of Billy Graham. My dad wakes up each morning and listens to the Bible and various teachings more than anyone I know. Being a Tankersley means having a teachable and always growing spirit. Understanding that we all only know what we know and there’s a world out there with much more to learn.

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