It’s a rare gift as to artfully, thoughtfully, and practically express the true meaning of “blessing”—a word that has become a cliché and an overused hashtag in American culture. Living overseas in Istanbul, Turkey for several years, Tina Boesch has experienced the deeply spiritual act of blessing. She joins us today to share what she has learned and put into meaningful practice to love those around her. It’s a grace to welcome Tina to the farm’s front porch today…
There’s a light on at the end of the hallway. I shuffle down and peer into my oldest daughter’s room.
Her form is lost, snug under a voluminous duvet. I sit on the edge of the bed, resting my hand somewhere near her knee.
She’s sleepy, but she has a question for me: “What do you think I’ll be when I grow up?”
I’m too tired to think deep and answer well. The first response that springs to mind is honest: “I don’t know.” But it sounds lame and uninspiring. Even as it flashes through my mind, I sense the inadequacy. It’s not the answer she needs from me.
I don’t want to dismiss her query, so I try to hear the question behind the question. What is she really asking?
I realize she’s asking if I see her. She’s asking what qualities and strengths I see in her and how I envision those developing in her life.
Answering her question with discernment requires me to look not at her, but into her, and even beyond her, to identify qualities that may now only be in their infancy but could become a force for good in her life and in the lives of others.
And, most importantly, answering the question well requires spiritual vision, because even when I look with all the intensity I can muster, I might miss something that God may be preparing her for if the eyes of my heart aren’t wide open.
If I see her with vision, and then find a way to express what the Lord reveals, then my answer becomes blessing.
Oh Lord, I am inadequate for this. I cannot see the way I need to see to bless well, but I long to see, even as I long to be seen.
I begin to pray for insight into answering my daughter’s question. Her birthday is on the horizon. She’s nearly twelve, just on the cusp of adolescence.
This year, I’ve watched as her limbs lengthened. I’ve noticed as she’s withdrawn into her interior space, wondering about what all these changes mean.
She’s standing on a threshold, moving from one season of life into another.
When Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, they weren’t young children. The Hebrew word within the blessing sometimes translated “boys” or “lads” (Genesis 48:16) indicates young men of marriageable age. These young men were at a pivotal time in their lives. Hovering on the brink of adulthood, their futures had not yet been set.
They were just at the age when their decisions would have enduring consequence. What more essential time to be affirmed, valued, and reminded that God is a shepherd who leads and redeems?
My girl, since the first moment I held her, has illuminated my days.
Now it’s my responsibility to invite her soul to growth. Not just any blessing will do. I need to write a blessing that’s suitable to her.
To mark this special occasion in her life, I want to compose a blessing that shows her that she’s been seen and that she’s been loved through the seeing.
Ultimately, the blessing is not a vision of what she will be when she grows up, it’s about who she will become. It’s not about occupation, it’s about character formation.
In a notebook, I jot down memories from her childhood, Scripture that has informed our prayers, challenges I imagine she’ll face in the next few years, and truth I most want to affirm for her.
I write and then rewrite. Over time, the blessing emerges. When the words have taken shape, I write them for her on the first few pages of a new journal.
On the morning of her birthday, we all gather in the den, relaxing after a pancake breakfast. I read the blessing, emotion making the words full in my throat, but I want her to hear me say them.
The blessing—composed, prayed, and spoken—is my gift given to her:
Remember that evening when we were walking by the water just before sunset and you coaxed a wild bunny to eat from your hand? You knelt down in the green lawn and waited by some blackberry bushes, your open hand filled with some grass from the field.
You were only six, but you waited still, patient, and gentle as the rabbit hesitantly inched in your direction, and eventually nibbled the grass held in your palm.
Watching you that evening, I saw so many of the qualities we’ve been praying for since you were born—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. May our gardener God continue to plant and cultivate spiritual fruit in your spirit to nourish others.
Every day, I see you maturing in so many ways, some observable, some under the surface of your skin.
Realize the people God brings into your life share in helping you become the person you’re meant to be. May you be drawn to friends who delight in your particularities and encourage you to be yourself, rather than trying to shape you into their own image.
The best friends see your potential and help draw it out. They never shame, never manipulate, never belittle.
May you be the friend to others that you want others to be to you.
Over the years, you’ll meet so many different sorts of people—many will act differently, think differently, believe differently, and make choices you might not understand.
Even when you feel confused by the different, remember that God’s image is imprinted deep within each and every one of them.
May you honor the image of God in each person by relating to others with dignity, kindness, and love.
Like the wild rabbit you fed when you were so small, may you return every evening to eat from the Lord’s hand. May you meet God each day and allow Him to speak truth into your inner being about your inestimable worth and your welcome around his table as a beloved daughter in Christ.
I’m learning that blessing doesn’t just amount to words written on a page.
Blessing embraces the whole process of encountering God in prayer and worship, seeing and discerning nascent qualities that could be developed, expressing blessing in finding the right words –
and committing myself to her spiritual formation while releasing her into God’s hands.
Tina Boesch is the author of Given: The Forgotten Meaning and Practice of Blessing, a writer, editor, and designer who serves as an advocate for Baptist Global Response. She earned an MA in theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she studied Christianity and culture. She has lived in seven countries on three continents.
How do we express the good that God wants for those we love? How do we experience blessing through pain and suffering? Why would we bless even enemies? In Given, you will journey outside of your comfort zone, into a world of blessing as a relational calling―as a way God relates to you and a way you’re called to relate to others. You will travel across countries, cultures, and centuries of church history to expand your paradigm of a word ripe with significance. Along the way, you’ll be inspired to begin the essential Christian practice of being given by God as a blessing.
[ Our humble thanks to NavPress for their partnership in today’s devotion ]