This month our four kids are spread across four continents.
That means I say lots of goodbyes.
My favorite thing about saying goodbye is the opportunity to give my kids a blessing—probably their most embarrassing part. Before we had our first child, my husband and I read the book, The Blessing, by Gary Smalley and John Trent. Since then we’ve strived to weave the blessing into the lives of each of our children.
The Bible is full of stories about the blessing in in the Jewish family culture. The authors of the book use those examples to describe five components that are usually present when imparting a blessing to someone.
- Meaningful touch—holding hands, a hand on their shoulder, a hug
- Spoken words—Say those meaningful words, don’t just think it and assume they know what you’re thinking.
- Expressing high value—Speak value about their unique characteristics and character.
- Picturing a special future—Give words to a positive vision about their future.
- An active commitment—Don’t just talk about it, but show a commitment to help them live into that special future.
If I made the list, it would include one more item – a favorite flavor. In the GreenHouse the blessing seems to settle better when it’s accompanied with a favorite food.
A blessing is more than complimenting a son on a game well played, giving a child a pat on the back for good grades, or telling a daughter that she looks nice in her new outfit.
If you begin looking for opportunities to bless your children (and anyone else, for that matter), you’ll find there are ample occasions. There are opportunities in the daily rhythms–bedtime, mealtimes, a talk at the end of a long day. And then there are the special occasions that are perfect for blessings—birthdays, graduations, weddings, and yes, departures.
Departures–that recurring theme in this season I’m living. I’ve said goodbye to Travis for his graduate studies in England (now researching in Kyrgyzstan), Jacob working an internship in Australia, Jessica living in Utah, and now my youngest is going to Ecuador and Peru. Lucky for Lucas—or maybe I’m the lucky one—I get to go south with him (so no goodbyes for him yet).
But I’m okay with all these goodbyes, because I get to bless my children as they journey into their special future. I get to wrap my kids up with meaningful touch, speak meaningful words that express how special they are. I love to imagine how this departure will be part of their growth into a special future, and they know we are committed as parents to support them in the journey.
The blessing takes many shapes and forms in our household…
- Sometimes it’s a special family meal with a written card served with their favorite dessert.
- Other times the one who is leaving sits on our coffee table in the living room and the family—usually accompanied by our Sunday night church group–circles around him and many hands touch him while words of blessing and prayers are spoken.
- Then there are the airport goodbyes when we slip the note in the backpack with that one last hug.
It doesn’t matter how you give the blessing. Just get in the habit of doing it. You’ll find it can even make saying goodbye fun.
It’s truly a blessing.