This is one of the busiest times of the year. April and May in our family has been a whirlwind of my husband’s mission trip, standardized testing and finishing up the school year, graduations, weddings, two birthdays, and out of town guests from one or both sides of the family for years. Beautiful celebrations abound.
It got me thinking about one of my favorite things in life, the power of blessing. When I moved to Mooresville, NC, one of my first memories was a birthday party. The son was a twenty one year old prodigal, and there was no doubt what he had planned for the second half of his evening. The part I was invited to was the party his family threw for him in the first half of the evening. They did something I’d never seen before. They went around the room and spoke blessings over him- kind, encouraging, sometimes even prophetic words over him. They found the gold in that wayward heart and honored it. I wept. I had rarely been a part of something so gracious. I knew so many hearts that needed it. My own, to tell the truth.
Later, I was integrated into this precious community, and it was my birthday. Life was spoken over me. Even if there had been no other gifts, it would have been enough. I am rich surrounded by those who love me like this.
Now I have my own children, and it is our tradition. It makes me glad as my son seems to grow taller as we tell him about the gift that he is. It’s all true. It’s also true that he still needs to learn to consistently pick up his socks, but we’ll save that for another day or learn to focus on what noble, true and handsome in him.
So that’s every year, on your birthday. Then there are the big days. Rites of passage. Graduation. Marriage. What many in our community do for these special times is similar, but even better. My husband and I plan to adopt it, as well. The young man (for example) is taken out to a restaurant with fathers in the faith, those who have watched him grow and loved him through the cute and through the awkward. There maybe some big brothers, too. They go around the room and speak life over the guest of honor, call the diamonds inside him out and hold them up to the Light. They share their own fears and failures about the season of life that the man is stepping into, and how the Lord was with them and brought them through it. The ceilings of their lives can be the floors of the young man. Everyone leaves with heart full and thankful to a faithful God. Amazing grace!
American culture lacks rites of passage that most traditional cultures have. We’ve forgotten how to support our young through the most challenging seasons of life. It’s no wonder that they find their own destructive ways to prove they have become a man or a woman to each other and to us. The Kingdom of God can be a light that stands out in the darkness and offers hope and vision for those young souls in our care. Love is the fertilizer as they grow into God’s dreams for them. Let us pour it out abundantly.
And by the way, the prodigal whose birthday we celebrated my first weeks here has overcome his demons. He’s a loving, patient husband and father, and a great provider and entrepreneur. The words spoken over him were true.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”-Proverbs 18:21
“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. By faith, Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on top of his staff.” Hebrews 11:20-21