In approaching the next leg of my growth in life, my application to the BSN completion program, my mind inevitably drifts to the reasons that drive me and the goals to which I strive. As I reflect back on the past five years of my life, I become all the more aware of the fact that I have known blessing and opportunity that most previous generations in my family and community have not known. As I write these words, I have on my desk the hand written memoirs of my grandfather’s adventures as a truck driver in the deserts of northern Asia. The life and culture he grew up in seems worlds away. My parents moved to the States in 1996, as part of a larger wave of individuals fleeing the instability of the post-Soviet wreckage. They came here with nothing but a handful of suitcases. My dad worked two jobs for years to keep us afloat in the new world.

The life that I live is so utterly different than the life that my parents and grandparents lived. The aspirations and achievements that I am able to attain are things that perhaps did not even enter their minds. And yet, I cannot think back to their lives and conclude that, merely because they didn’t get a high education, they weren’t able to accomplish anything significant. Quite the contrary. As I reflect back on the previous generations, I see that there is an unbroken line of hard work and stewardship that traces through the decades and brings me to where I am today. Instead of heaping up comforts for themselves, my father, as well as his father before him, took hold of the opportunities that they faced in order to open more doors to their children after them.

Our parent’s generation knows this well because much of what they did, they did to give us what we have. But today I see a very different trend. We are a generation of consumerism and massive credit card debt. We are a generation that sets personal autonomy as a supreme virtue and stops at nothing to build “our” lives just like we want them, even if it means uprooting hundreds of years of moral systems. We are generation that sees those before it as ignorant and ancient, as holding to a value system that is outdated and obselete. We want to travel the world, make a lot of money and get all the toys. We want to believe that we can do all this all on our own.

There really is nothing that I have which I did not receive. The only reason that I am able to face the rich opportunities that I do is because of the hard work and faithfulness of the generations before me. Thus I am inspired to take the baton passed on to me, and to run fast and run hard. And to do so against the current trends. As I write these words my six month old daughter is playing in her little chair beside my desk. What kind of world will she live in? What will I leave for her? What kind of life and example will I surround her with?

If I am half as good as the men that came before me, I will live to give, not to take. I will build up, not tear down. I will strive to live my life in such a way that she will face opportunities and privileges that I myself would not have ever dreamed of.