It punctured the air like an overblown balloon suddenly exploding at the height of a well-planned celebration. And left behind were broken shards of childhood pain inflicted in the most vulnerable of her years-middle school. The thoughtlessly delivered pain of a few penetrated her heart, settled in and dislodged all past affirmations and soul truths from their high places.
At a time when egos are fragile and the future teeters on every insult uttered, the identities of our children can suffer greatly. Hearts become entangled in the thistles and thorns of life, and one valley can be felt deeper than the height of all mountains combined.
And as much as our mother-hearts long to protect and nurture and escort our children into young adulthood beautifully whole, no child is immune to peer wounding. Sometimes no amount of parental encouragement can trump the pain of such wounding. Sometimes time doesn’t heal all wounds.
Soul wounds bleed slow and ooze in secret until the infection spans not only the heart but also the mind. I desperately wanted to snatch these splinters from her heart and cast them away. But experience is a reminder of how difficult extraction can be.
Still, somehow I needed to lead her back to the high places; the places I knew God wanted her to dwell. This valley simply could not continue to cast such a dark shadow on all that was real and good in her life. So many years of planting and fertilizing had to yield more than this adolescent storm threatened to destroy.
She needed something more tangible-something more powerful to stifle the exploding balloon. She needed something tender enough to summon the vulnerable corners of her soul back to higher ground, where her roots would once again dig deep.
Out of this crisis, The Blessing Project was born.
Because I knew I could not lead her to the high places on my own. This was bigger than any words or truths I had sprinkled over her heart. She would soon be spreading her wings, and the days of planting limited. Although so many seeds of truth had sprouted and grown tall in this young woman’s heart, this bitter weed would not be dislodged from the soil by an army of one.
Sometimes the most profound words must be spoken from those who don’t wear the title of parent.
I began selecting names and contacting all who had intersected paths in my daughter’s life. Family, educators, friends, mentors, anyone who could speak life into her soul was added to the list. Anyone who grasped the value of a prayer and a blessing spoken over a soul was invited to be a vessel of God’s healing love.
Each person was encouraged to focus on three areas:
–Celebrate the qualities and character which made her unique
–Convey their hopes and expectations for her future
–Connect the blessing to her heritage, both physical and spiritual
There were no length restrictions and no templates; only the urging toward authentic encouragement.
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24 (NIV)
Within a few days, the emails came flooding to my inbox. I was stunned at the time and care and attention to detail so many took in choosing their words and laying out their blessings on this young woman’s future. Tears welled as I read the overwhelming number of heartfelt sentiments and blessings.
A praise of her beautiful smile and her crazy sense of humor.
A prayer for God winks to carry her into grace.
A reminder that God’s strength is made perfect in her weakness.
A challenge to allow God’s perfect love to cast out all of her fears.
An urging to trust in God above her own understanding.
A declaration of her beauty and purpose in Christ.
With all of them gathered, I changed the fonts for artistic appeal and began to assemble each blessing in a small scrapbook. I didn’t use a lot of fancy techniques or tools, just a few embellishments. The goal was for the blessings to take center stage, and the scrapbook was the perfect avenue to serve as a constant “go-to”, a healing balm where words and prayers could soothe and strengthen.
Not just for a day, but for a lifetime.
What began as a prayer became a moment of profound grace.
Inviting her soul to climb out of the valley. Summoning her heart toward a future filled with hope. And beckoning her to forever be refreshed in the high places.
***Photos by Shane Twaddell