During our family devotions at dinner recently Briana (age seven) asked me a question I’ll never forget. It illustrates the importance of children receiving a father’s blessing.
Words of affirmation from someone you love and respect are powerful. Many people have not received this from their father.
Much of who I am and who you are was shaped into being at the dinner table when we were children. Who did you eat with? Was your father there? What was the conversation like for you? Did your dad bless you? Your mom?
Family Time at the Dinner Table
Kristi and I have made it a priority to gather together with our three children as a family for dinner and conversation each evening. As has been our tradition, we were all sharing our “peak and pit” of the day. I had just responded to something that Briana’s older sister Jennie had shared by affirming her as having “a heart of compassion.” Jennie so appreciated receiving her father’s blessing – she lapped up my affirming words like a puppy enjoying a bowl of milk!
I turned to look at her precious face and eager heart. She had caught me unprepared so I hesitated for a moment. In a flash I realized, “What I say right now is really important. It may be the most important question she ever asks me! Lord, what is Briana’s heart made of?”
“Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice!” No! That wouldn’t have met Briana’s need! She needed a sincere father’s blessing. I wanted to recognize her beautiful uniqueness like I had done for her sister and so I said: “Briana, you have the heart of a leader. Your name means `Strong in God’s grace’ and that is what you are. I love to see how you lead people in good ways.”
Briana wagged her tail and yelped with excitement, “Mommy! Mommy! I have the heart of a leader!”
Kids may Bring their Hearts to Unsafe People and Things
I am so glad that my little girl brought the question of her heart to me and that God spoke through me to give her the father’s blessing that she needed. As I’ve watched my little girl grow up I’ve often thought about all the other places that she could bring the question of her heart: to a fickle friend, a boy with lustful desires, alcohol at a party.
Briana may have forgotten my words, but I don’t think that she will forget the father’s blessing of being recognized and feeling appreciated by me for how God has made her. (To help make sure I look for opportunities to affirm her!) I believe that today she stands a little taller and smiles a little bigger and is better able to pick herself back up when she gets a bad grade, feels rejected by a friend, or I get frustrated with her.
Hurting Parents Tend to Hurt their Children
You may not have received the blessing of being affirmed for your personality by your father or mother. In this case you know how important it is to bless and affirm your children. But if you didn’t receive this parental blessing it’s hard to pass it on consistently to your children.
The insecure inner child in you is prone to get transmitted to your children. You may give positive verbal affirmations to your children only to discover many years later that in subtle ways your intentional communications of love were diluted, even contradicted, by your unintentional communications of your own underlying emotional struggles with low self-esteem or lack of confidence.
In our work as psychotherapists Kristi and I talk with people who missed out on the father’s blessing that they needed or carry other emotional wounds or deficits.
If you missed out on the listening, care, and encouragement that you needed as a child then you probably struggle with insecurity or low self-esteem. And you’re probably uncomfortable with your emotional needs and struggles. Inside you may feel inadequate or bad about yourself. You may be trying to hard to succeed in life or to get people to like you and yet it’s never enough. Or you may be using alcohol or food to try to forget about your pain.
Bring the Question of Your Heart to Jesus
Just like Briana at age seven there is a question in your heart: “What’s special about me? Am I attractive? Am I significant?”
Are you bringing the question of your heart to God? To a “Christ’s Ambassador” who helps you to connect with God’s grace? (1 Corinthians 5:20).
The Bible is full of our Father’s blessing words for us. We need to pay special attention to the many Bible Verses on the Father’s Love. Furthermore, in all of your Bible study and meditation you want to read the Bible as God’s Love Letter to You!
But even the Bible isn’t enough to fill the hole in our souls except as it leads us to the Lord Jesus Christ who alone is able to give us God’s life (John 5:39). He is the Good Shepherd and he knows your name. He calls you by name (John 10:3). He opens his arms to the child in you and to your children or grandchildren. Jesus gives the best father’s blessing of loving affirmation! (Mark 10:13-14).