Love and affirmation given generously provide the foundation for opening a heart to influence.
“Mama, will you squish into my bed with me so we can talk just for a little while tonight?” my young-adult child begged with wistful eyes. “How can I resist time with one of my best friends in all the world? What’s on your heart, Tookies?” I asked as I scooted her over to sit close to her on the small single bed. Tookies was a nickname that had somehow evolved during her early years and could certainly be used on her birthday after she had been duly celebrated.
“You know, I didn’t even know how emotionally empty I was. It seems there are battlegrounds everywhere in my life—at college, at work, with friends, every place. My values are questioned. My moral underpinnings are challenged. I feel alone and sometimes battle with doubt—you know me! And sometimes I don’t feel like I belong to my world.
“But today, when everyone told me what they appreciated about my life, how glad they were that I was their sister, and when you and Daddy invested your words of faith in who I am, the woman I have become, my heart just soaked it in. It was like water to thirsty ground. All day I’ve been reviewing in my mind all the things that were said. And I’ve thought about the round-table prayers for my life, and it all seems sweeter to me than ever before. It’s as though the love poured into me on my birthday is an anchor that keeps pulling me back to what we all believe together, our unity of commitment to stay faithful to God’s call on our lives as a family.”
This eloquent bedtime speech had been twenty years in the making. And it was sweet to my mama heart.
Sometimes when my children were growing up, I didn’t know if they were listening or paying attention. Yet today I’m beginning to see the fruits of our years deliberately speaking forward into their lives. Reminding them that they are uniquely special to God, that His fingerprints are on their lives and on the story they will tell through their own days, has shaped the persons they’re becoming.
Cultivating a lifegiving table is all about helping those who gather around it to know the love of God and to understand His truths, laying foundations of faith that will serve them years after they go out into the world. Intentionally crafting words and messages to share along with the food we serve and the conversations we enjoy is a part of my role as hostess and as mama. Table talks are where lightbulbs come on, where ideas are fully embraced as they are discussed, where love is received as it is generously poured out.
And birthdays are the place where our feasting table becomes a blessing table. They are the times when we intentionally speak words of encouragement and affirmation we hope will sink deep into their minds and hearts. They are also times when we remember that God has specifically created each one with a history, a unique personality, and a story only he or she can fulfill in His own story in our world.
Early in my marriage, I learned that this process was deeply biblical. It goes all the way back to the very first chapter of Genesis, when God finished creating Adam and Eve in His image, then immediately “blessed them” (verse 28). A traditional Jewish blessing, sometimes called the Aaronic blessing (because it was first given to Moses’ brother, Aaron), became a mainstay of Hebrew culture. It was spoken over and over and written in many places, personal and public, as a proclamation that God desired to be with His people and surround them with favor and protection. And the Bible contains many other examples of verbal blessings that speak affirmation, encouragement, reassurance, and promise to those being blessed.
Don’t miss today’s podcast on Blessing Feasts for your home, from The Lifegiving Table.