Written by Leslie Allen, 2014 Scholarship Winner
Leslie is a freshman studying Nutrition Science at Baylor University in Waco, TX, with aspirations of becoming a registered dietitian. She is absolutely loving the new experiences and friendships that come with being a college student, and has no doubt that Baylor is where God has called her to be. Leslie shares Taylor’s story every opportunity she gets, and desires to exemplify the Outlive Yourself spirit on campus at Baylor each day.
My perspective on what it means to Outlive Yourself, and on all of life, really, has changed dramatically over the past 18 months. My once naïve eyes have been opened to the heartbreaking pain of this world, along with the strength and sovereign power of God’s love.
I wrote an article for the Outlive Yourself Blog in May of this year, explaining how I was introduced to Taylor’s Gift Foundation and Todd Storch. Grief and unfathomable tragedy is what initially connected me to Taylor’s Gift, but the hope and love associated with the Foundation is what has truly impacted my life.
About a month after the “Nothing Ice Cream Won’t Fix” event I planned with Taylor’s Gift in remembrance of my best friend, Madison, and her beautiful family, I received the Taylor’s Gift Scholarship - an honor more touching and treasured than any possible monetary value. The scholarship was one more way God affirmed that His hand was on me even though exceptionally difficult circumstances.
Photo: Madison & Leslie
Since the event and receiving the scholarship, I have stayed in touch with the Foundation. I am continuously blown away by how God used the book Taylor’s Gift to begin a unique journey of connection and healing in my life. Recently, I was talking to Todd about my ongoing walk through grief, and used a metaphor to describe the friendship I had shared with Madison. I told him how thankful I was that Christ had always been the root of our relationship, because it was a root that does not get pulled up with death. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. I had never described the bond between Madison and I like that before, and honestly, I had no idea where it came from. Todd encouraged me to write it down, so that night I did.
As I was journaling and praying, I decided to go read the passage I referenced when I said to Todd, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God”:
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?...No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39, NLT)
As I read, I clearly pictured a cross with roots and quickly sketched it on the inside cover of my Bible. I thought about the truth in how the cross has given us overwhelming victory, and despite tragedy, tears, confusion, and even death, because Madison and I’s relationship was firmly rooted in Christ, we will not be apart forever. I then realized how the picture of being rooted in Christ applies to not just Madison and I, but to the Outlive Yourself spirit of everyone on this earth. To Outlive Yourself is to live for something that lives on when you do not. As Paul explained to the Romans, the love of God lives on no matter the circumstances in life, and to be rooted in Christ and share His love leaves a legacy that lives even after we physically die.
After 18 months without Madison, I wish I could say that I am completely at peace with losing her and her parents and sister, and that I don’t still question God’s plan. Though that is not the case, as Todd has told me, it is important to realize that not all questions get answered on this earth, and it is okay for me to “just be” however I am on a given day. I may never understand God’s purposes for the tragedy I have faced and face daily, but I have unwavering hope and absolute joy in knowing I am rooted in a loving God, and that those roots are eternal, no matter who or what tries to pull them up. I am learning that exemplifying the Outlive Yourself spirit, from genuinely caring about others, to simply speaking a kind word, to even organ donation, begins with my roots.
Photo: Madison & Leslie
How Will You Outlive Yourself?
Register as an organ donor, strike up a conversation with someone who needs some company, find a way to give back to your local community... the opportunities are endless. Through acts that are big and small, YOU have the power to Outlive Yourself. Take the Pledge and tell us how you Outlive Yourself.
Are you a high school senior? Do you exemplify an Outlive Yourself spirit in your community? You might be interested in the 2015 Taylor’s Gift Scholarship.