Friday, April 24, 2015

Repost: Bless the Child?

Every other week my blog will feature a reposted work. I had been a contributor on two different sites that have since closed or no longer include blogs. I will be reposting pieces that had originally been featured on one of these two sites.  

This was originally posted July 6, 2011

Every night at bedtime I bless my son. 
I had talked to my professor’s wife through email about attachment and parenting, specifically pertaining to children who had been adopted.  One thing she mentioned was that my professor blessed their daughters every night.  I thought this would be a good practice to incorporate into how we/I parent Isaiah.

Blessing Isaiah

I’m not completely sure what it means to bless someone.  I do believe that there is power in words; that humans can invoke power of some sort with words and intention.  However, I do not think there is power in simple empty repetition; the words have to be connected to some greater source.  To bless is different than to pray, but it is still somehow related to my connection to the Father through the Holy Spirit. 

I have blessed others before.  During prayer times before each school year here at Indiana Wesleyan University I bless the young men on my staff in the Residence Hall.  I try to contemplate and pray in the days leading up to the prayers in order to discern what each man needs to grow and how God is working in each life.  

Blessing my son is different.  I thought and prayed over what to say but his is a Life Blessing, not a Year Blessing, it doesn’t change based on how or what Isaiah’s doing.  It has a lot more to do with what we, his parents, want for him in the future as he matures.  
I bless him every night, with the same blessing.  
Every night after Candice or I pray with and for Isaiah I put my hand on his forehead and say:

“May you be strong and humble.  May your father show you your Heavenly Father.”

Strength and humility are characteristics that are not often found together in men, or at least not found well-balanced.  We want our boy to be strong, to know who he is; to be solid.  I want him to feel worthy and not inadequate among other men.  We also want him to be humble.  I want him to actively help others weaker than himself.  I want him to know his strength without having to prove it to those around him.  I want him to give of himself as a servant, knowing he has the strength to resist as a rebel.  I want him to have an attitude of learning among others no matter the relative social status. 

Including Myself

This brings me to my reason for writing. 
The crucial difference between this blessing and any other that I’ve given is that this one reflects back to me.  As the blesser I am prayerfully speaking the hope into him that his father would act in such a way that he would have a good God-image.  As the blesser I want the boy’s father to introduce him to God, and to live in such a way that the boy is able to see God when and where He reveals Himself.  But as his father I have a lot to do with whether or not that blessing will come to fruition.  When I am approached by Isaiah, I can act from my tired annoyed lazy flesh or I can respond as I think God might respond.  I can respond how I would want Isaiah to expect God to respond to him later in life.  I can play with him or I can watch him play.  I can look him in the eye or I can talk to him while playing Angry Birds.  I can hold him while he’s being disciplined or I can set him in time-out and walk away.  I can respond with wisdom or with anger.

But if blessings have power (depending on who or what the blesser is connected to), am I giving myself power to live a righteous life when I bless my son?
I am invoking these words for his benefit, but I am also making myself responsible for that benefit.
By invoking these words am I helping myself be a better parent?
Or is it simply that saying these words regularly is a way of ingraining this desire into my heart?

I’d like to think that when I bless Isaiah with a blessing that concerns me I am binding myself to this task and empowering myself to live up to this ideal for the sake of my son.
The blessing is for him, connected to him, but I have "opted in." 
I have tied myself to it and I am pulling myself closer.

I’ve just been pondering this lately.  I find it very intriguing, and a bit heavy. 

Let me close with this blessing to you, and I pray that your father feels the weight of it as well:

May you be strong and humble.  May your father show you your Heavenly Father.

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