We are created with a need to be accepted, to belong and be loved and valued. Every human wants the blessing — an affirmation of worth, approval, a future, potential, acceptance. John Trent and Gary Smalley define The Blessing as “A life-changing gift of unconditional love and acceptance passed down from one generation to the next.” (http://www.theblessing.com/html/overview.html) In scripture, we repeatedly see the Patriarchs from Abraham on giving the blessing God gave him to their offspring.
We still long for that blessing, and is usually comes from an important person in our lives. In a perfect world it would come from the father. Because we are fallen, sometimes it’s a mother. But if in a dysfunctional home the blessing is withheld, the next best is another important person in your life: spouse, mentor, teacher, or a respected authority who knows you well enough to be able to pronounce “the blessing” on your worth and future. Regardless, everyone wants that blessing.
It’s not always an obvious, conscious desire, especially if it wasn’t received in childhood. Kids are naturally very resilient, and learn to give up one thing, make do with something else, and how to cope early in life. Young children don’t really know to ask for the blessing. As they grow into adults who never received it, they find other ways to gain the approval and acceptance, the stamp of “worth” that they long for, and it can be hidden under a variety of other motives that seem harmless.
Lately, I’ve been working through some very hard things in my life. The details are ultimately unimportant here, but suffice it to say that I did not receive that blessing from my parents, and have spent the last several years trying unsuccessfully to “earn” it from a respected authority in my life.
I didn’t realize that’s what was going on — it’s strange how the sub-conscious and the heart can hide things from us. But through a series of very difficult and faith-shaking events, it became clear to me that’s what I had been doing. There was some affirmation and kindness, but never “the blessing” that I had been longing for. It would seem so close sometimes, so I’d work harder trying to earn that stamp of approval, so hard in fact, that it got to the point of a near complete physical, spiritual, and emotional breakdown before I realized that something wasn’t right, something had to change.
Letting go is painful — even letting go of things that you know shouldn’t be in your life. If you’ve pinned hopes & dreams to it, it still hurts to acknowledge that it was wrong, to identify an idol and tear it down. Loss of any kind brings grief, and grief is hard to understand and harder to explain. From the outside it looked like a simple job change. My heart knew it was more, and the grief pangs of losing what I’d hoped for rolled in and out like the tide. Some days I was much better, feeling the release of the bondage this particular idol had kept me in, and the joy of new ways to serve. Some days, I ached for just one more kind word of approval to tell me I really was ok and to help me keep going.
It was on one of these days that God taught me something beautiful as I cried out to Him, a little like a pouty child who’d been told “No,” but was still trying to find a way to get just a little bit of what she wanted. “Father! Why is it so hard? I wanted to be accepted, to matter to someone. I feel so useless, even though You’ve given me new work, but it feels fake without that person’s approval. Can you restore this relationship so I could have acceptance and blessing from him so that I feel qualified to minister in these new areas?” And He answered, just as He does, “far more abundantly” than I had asked for. What did He say?
I stopped dead in mid-whine! Stunned, He had answered! In a normal moment in time, in my room in average suburbia, God took my chin in His hands and gently spoke to His child, an answer to put the end to the cries for a blessing from any human!
A few years ago, during a time of dark trials, I had memorized Ephesians 1 & 2, but haven’t been reviewing it lately. Thankfully, He used that time of hiding His word to bring this verse back to me right at this exact time, in answer a very specific question. Not only that, He then reminded me that only a few weeks ago, as I sat quietly asking Him to untangle things in my life that were so painful, all I heard in my spirit was “Daughter, I AM here.” As I thought of Ephesians 1:3, and remembered that this very same God calls me Daughter, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
God, the Father of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is also my Father, in a very personal way, and far better than any human father or authority can ever be. And that same Father, who sent His only begotten Son to suffer the wrath I deserve so that I could be redeemed and brought into His family, has already pronounced THE Blessing on me – HIS blessing in Christ! What can possibly compare to being considered worthy of redemption, worthy of being made a bride for His Son, accepted into His family for eternity? What human voice could bestow words that could ever be worth anything at all in light of having already received “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places?” from the God of the universe? And hadn’t he already brought new work and new ministry into my life? Wasn’t He allowing me opportunities to serve Him and others even as I continued to work out the pain of this loss? That is also Him pronouncing His blessing, Him “confirming the work of my hands,” telling me that it is valuable and has a purpose. More than that, He is telling me that I am valuable and have a purpose, and most of all, that I am HIS.
Oh I pray that this reminder, this BLESSING will continue to soothe, heal, teach, and restore me. I expect there will still be days when I will forget and long for a blessing from someone else. It is hard to ignore the audible and tangible – or lack of them. I still cross paths with this person occasionally and a word of affirmation would be nice. But I am not longing for it the same way. Instead, when that thought comes, I praise God that He is the God who hears and answers, who heals and restores, who Blesses us beyond our deepest longings. Thanks be to Him!
Photo credit: PicJumbo https://picjumbo.com/?s=sunrise+grass+flowers