I was an only child. Still am, if you want to get technical.
Because of that, I remember my Mom being wildly overprotective of me when I was growing up. I make frequent jokes about feeling like she wanted to cover me in bubble wrap whenever I went outside to ensure I didn’t get damaged. That memory of being smothered (s-mothered?) was one of my main arguments for having more than one child when Sara and I started talking about our own family 15 years ago; I didn’t want my own child to feel as tethered as I did.
But when I think about it? I was allowed to do so many things I wouldn’t let my kids do now. Or, I could do things freely that cause me now to hesitate and second-guess and worry about when it comes to my own brood. I played football in second grade. In fifth grade I would take off on my bike on Saturday morning (by myself) and ride all around my hometown (by myself), and not come home until dark. Speaking of dark, in 7th grade, my friends and I would walk around the city after football games on Friday nights, not being due back home until midnight.
Would open-minded, free-spirited me let my kids do these three things? Begrudgingly, doubtful, and are you kidding me??
Earlier this week, Laura Backman came to our house to film the final video for the Faith Five series that has been playing during the Children’s Message on Sundays for the past month. Step five is “bless.” As in, after you share, read, talk, and pray, each family member is supposed to bless each other. While our family is pretty adept at the “share” step (we have been regular high-and-low-ers for nearly two years), the blessing step is a new addition. At first, I struggled. What, exactly, do I say? Also, what gives me the right to bless someone else in God’s name? Finally I settled on “God be with you” while touching the head of each kid, although I reserve the right to change that to something more pithy in the future.
While I was pondering this whole blessing topic earlier this week, my mind shifted to the memories I shared above. While my parents did not explicitly bless me, I have no doubt that God was with me along those childhood journeys—accompanying me, keeping me safe, and always returning me home before curfew. (Except for that one time, but let’s not talk about that right now.)
Similarly, I know that God is watching over my family as they go out into the world whether I perform my clunky blessing each night or not. However, that doesn’t make the act any less important. For one, I think it is a great reminder for the kids to help them remember that God is with them throughout their days. While they are still relatively early in their education, school can certainly make one feel separate and apart; I hope hearing that God walks with each of them gives them some solace.
Just as important, though, is that the blessing reminds *me* that they are not walking alone. While I never won’t worry, ever since starting to do the nightly blessing I have felt more reassured that God is present in their day-to-day lives. I know this won’t prevent them from ever hurting, but I am hopeful that it will make that hurt more tolerable. (And, no, I still am not going to let them walk around on Friday nights until midnight.)
Dear God. Thank you for your abundant and undeserved blessings you give us. Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit, who accompanies us throughout our days and reminds us of Your presence and grace. Bless our families with peace and happiness and health. Encourage us to bless others, to help us remember Your love for us. AMEN.