I think that the best way to discover what pronouncing blessings is all about is to pronounce a few. The practice itself will teach you what you need to know.
–Barbra Brown Taylor, from the book “An Altar in the World”
For years, as I’ve worked as a Youth Director in a variety of churches, I’ve loved studying ways to bring faith into the life of children. I can’t even count how many books I’ve read, speakers I’ve seen, and conferences I’ve been to about raising kids with faith… And even now, when I look in my son’s eyes – the task seems daunting.
So many things I want my little boy to know and feel. To believe and trust. Things to open his world wide open… and things that will give him hope and gratefulness for the little things.
He’s too little to get any of that for now… But I do one thing that I hope will begin his journey.
I bless him. Every night before bed.
Cheesy? Maybe. But a couple of years ago, at yet another conference, I heard a story that stuck in my heart (even when I thought I wouldn’t be having kids). So, now that the little guy is here… I’m taking that story and applying it to our little life. It went something like this:
A family was taking their first born daughter off to college. Lots of nerves and excitement! They spent the day driving to the University – a quiet car trip. Once there, the whole family helped with unpacking, setting up furniture, making the bed, locating campus maps, etc. Pretty typical story, right?
Then, as the rest of the family prepared to leave, the girl kissed and hugged her parents good-bye. And that was it. They were off.
The family began the walk out to the car… The Dad feeling like something was missing. He forgot to do something, but couldn’t quite figure out what.
Until his daughter yelled out the window for them to Wait!
They did. And as she ran up to her Daddy, she said, “Dad! You forgot to bless me!”
Turns out, he had blessed her before bed every night of her life. The same blessing each night. And now she couldn’t possibly start her new life without hearing that blessing one more time…
I heard that story and knew, if I was ever blessed to have a child, I would be blessing them every night. And I do. These are the things I bless him with:
That he knows he is loved – by Mommy and Daddy, all our family, all our friends; and by God. I pray that he knows God’s love in the deepest part of his heart.
That he knows he is valued – for the little person he is today; and the big, strong, brave man he will become. For his gifts and strengths, and all the ways he will offer joy in this world.
That he knows he is never alone. No matter how near or far he may go – we will always be there for him. And through those days of sadness AND those days of joy – God will be walking with him through the midst of it all.
I pray for him to have a long happy life – full of love, laughter, adventure, and generosity. That he knows love and joy abundantly – and shares them abundantly, too.
And I remind him what a blessing he is – a long awaited blessing, so loved.
At this point, the prayer is engrained on my heart and rolls off my tongue… And I hope one day, it will be the same for him so that these blessings are part of who he is – and when life gets hard, he can remember that this is part of who he is.
This is only the first step in raising him with a life full of faith… What was your first step?