I unzipped his backpack to begin the process of tossing out papers, stacking up papers, and looking at homework for the week when I found a gift bag in his backpack.
“Andrew, what is this?”
He tossed his tennis racket on the driveway and raced towards me.
“Oh, mommy, it’s from Mrs. Furrow. Read it to me. All of it!”
“Reliable. Hardworking. Steadfast.” My voice cracked, the tears welled up.
“Faithful. Capable. Charming. Loyal. Determined.”
“You forgot this one.” He pointed to the bottom of the picture of words.
“Funny. Yes, you are very funny.”
He lifted his chin, flashing his proudest expression. “Tell me what all those words mean. What is steadfast?”
“Unwavering as to resolution, faith, etc. It’s fixed in direction, firm in purpose.”
The weight of the words pressed hard in my heart.
He is that. He is all the words she selected to describe him. The words she blessed him with. The words that will dig trenches in his soul.
The gift of words. A blessing.
In a world that can be cruel to a kid. In a world of comparisons. In a world of striving. When temptation is great to let our identity take a wrong turn, words can be the blessing our kids need most.
Words are important. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. Lie. Words can damage severely. But words can build, heal, restore, shape, and mold as well.
Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body
A few years ago I wrote this post about a favorite Christmas tradition. A father’s blessing. A letter my husband writes to our children every Christmas Eve. They find their handwritten letter hiding in the tree on Christmas morning.
The words are for their eyes only. The words speak to their character, their heart, their faith, and the year. It’s life giving words. It’s what he sees in them that they may not see. What God impresses on his heart to share with his boys. It’s the most special gift we give them each Christmas. It costs nothing but it is treasured above all gifts under the tree.
For each of the boys’ birthdays this year, I wrote them a birthday blessing. In this letter, I pulled prayers and scripture out of my prayer journal that had been prayed for them. I listed the date and the exact words I’d prayed. Each letter contained about 10 prayers or verses that were given uniquely for them.
These are the kind of gifts they may not jump up and down over. There is no “wow” factor. But they can actually change their life.
I periodically write letters to my boys. Sometimes when they are facing a challenge. Sometimes for no reason at all. Sometimes as an intentional blessing. Always to give the gift of my words to build them up and point them to their Savior.
These types of words are what they crave. Our culture offers superficial building up. Telling kids they are great, awesome, and excellent. Deep down, they know they aren’t awesome all the time. They aren’t great a lot of times. These words don’t speak to their hearts. They want to know what about me is so great. Give me concrete examples of why I’m great in your eyes.
What they want to hear is, “The way you never gave up on math all year was awesome. The grades might not have been straight A’s, but you worked with all your heart, giving it all you had. That type of dedication is awesome.”
What they want to hear is, “The way you slipped a piece of candy to the one everyone else forgot, that is pretty awesome. I love your heart that cares about other’s feelings.”
Blanket statements of goodness are not blessings. They can do more harm than good.
This generation doesn’t need to hear they are amazing. They need to be looked at in the eyes. They need to be loved unconditionally. They need to know they are known and loved. They need to know they matter, not because they are awesome, but because they are made in the image of God.
One of the greatest gift we can give our kids under the tree this year, is the gift of our words. Words given to bless their lives. Words that will speak deep into their souls, reminding them they were created for more than this world.
I have come to realize that my boys only retain a small portion of what I speak to them. My words are granted only a few seconds to slip in before the door of opportunity slams. Written words aren’t blocked by doors, they slide under the crack of the door. There they remain and can be taken in slowly over time and multiple times.
When I speak, my words can be tuned out. When I leave my words in writing, they can read them when they most need them and as often as they wish.
A letter from a parent to a child is a tool that plants words deep into the soil of the soul. Those words remain with them for life. When the words are most needed, they are waiting to be unearthed. Resurrected to life in the heart of the child.
When a child needs reminding, your words are there. When a child transitions through life or needs comfort, your words are there. When your child needs affirmation or understanding, your words are there. Words hold power to guide, heal, touch, correct, love, inspire, and encourage. They shape our thoughts, direct our minds, and impact our hearts.
Words from a parent to a child are an invaluable gift. It’s a legacy passed down. A passing of your transparent heart to theirs. As parents, we compete with a busy world for the attention of our children. We have so much to share and a short time to make an impact. Let’s become intentional even with our words.
Let’s bless our children this Christmas. It will be the gift they didn’t ask for, but the gift that will continue to give back over the years to come.
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