The Beauty of a Blessing

Have you ever been gifted a blessing?

We call many good things “blessings.” We see “blessings” in good health, safe travel, joyful days, sweet relationships, financial help or stability, a home-cooked meal when we need it most. Often we say a blessing before a meal. We (oddly) say “bless you” when someone sneezes. We experience all the blessings of faith that are bestowed by a gracious God.

But have you actually been on the receiving end of a true blessing – spoken only and uniquely to you?

We could categorize true blessings three ways – God to Man, Man to God and Man to Man – and yes, in this instance “man” also means “woman.”

I have been pondering this third category for the last several days – – – hence this writing at this time.

My mother-in-law passed away a few days ago. We will be celebrating her life with a service in her honor in a few days.

She and I became “family” more than forty years ago. Our early years were a little bumpy to say the least.

We came from different parts of the world, different cultures, different educations, different denominations, pretty much different everything. And to top it all off – this “different” person had swept away her baby boy.

I have a quiver full of stories about the results of these differences.

Thankfully, as years passed and as life circumstances changed, the differences were shed away. So much so, that as she prepared to leave our home the last time she was ever able to visit, she gifted me with a blessing that pierced my heart and has abided therein since that very day.

What is this kind of blessing? It is worth exploring – and then undertaking!

Many years ago we began praying with and over our girls – not just at mealtime or before bed – but as they went out into the world. We prayed as they went to school, traveled, married, faced challenges and life decisions. To this day we can’t remember the genesis of these prayers. But we do know this, those prayer huddles have been among the most treasured and precious moments in the life of our family. I have come to realize these prayer huddles were often actually our praying blessings over our children and now, their families.

In her study of the book of Jude, Jackie Hill Perry looks in depth at the concept of a blessing. In reviewing the history of blessings throughout scripture, she writes,  “Simply put, these blessings were prayers directed toward God but said aloud to the people the blessing was intended for. So though the benedictions in Scripture may seem trite, they are far from it. They carry much weight when considered in light of Who the blessing is asked of and who it is for.”

I have a dear friend who makes Facebook posts for each of her grandchildren’s birthdays. These are not the normal posts acknowledging the child’s special day, they enumerate (with the number coinciding with each child’s age) prayers and blessings for and over that specific child’s life. What a gift as that young life is able to read – or hear – what his or her grandmother is asking and desiring for them from our Heavenly Father. A life-long and life-giving use of thoughts, desires and words – given and received in truth.

And I am privileged to be a part of a bible study group that I have come to realize has learned to pray together, with and over one another in such a way that we each have the opportunity to both pray a blessing and receive a blessing graciously given by sweet sisters. Based on scripture, love, truth, personal knowledge of God and of one another and a precious time together – – these blessings provide encouragement, strength, joy, comfort and so much more.

To bestow the gift of a blessing on another does not always have to take the form of a prayer. To be able to look someone in the eye, hold someone’s hand, touch someone’s arm, enfold someone in a hug – and speak words of love and truth, encouragement and affirmation, comfort and beauty, strength and honor into their lives is a gift like no other. It can’t be found in a store, or online or even in a church service. It can only be given heart to heart.

As I have remembered the treasured words my mother-in-law spoke on that last visit, I have given silent thanks for her taking those few extra moments, as she was literally heading out of the door, to bestow a life-giving blessing over my life and into my heart.

What a precious gift we can give our spouses, our children, their spouses, our grandchildren, our friends and others by simply taking the time to speak or pray a blessing into their lives.

Saying words of love, encouragement, affirmation, acknowledgment, comfort, hope, joy, empathy, sympathy, wisdom and other up-lifting attributes can truly bless the lives of others – sometimes, surely, from, to and for – – generation to generation.

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