Pull Down your Father's Altar
It’s been a few weeks since I posted last. But I do have a good reason actually, not just an excuse! Do you want to know why? Well... Paul and I are expecting baby number FOUR. Yes, that’s right. We are officially crazy! I have spent more time than I’d like to admit laying on the bathroom floor. Ohhhh the joys of pregnancy. I am just hopeful that this part will only last a few more weeks and life will get back to normal... at least for a few months anyway. :)
Though my body has been horizontal the last few weeks, my mind has been quite busy, processing and absorbing the messages you’ve been sending in response to my last post. I presented three questions to you, with the hope to understand what goes on in your mind as you read about the Blessing. The responses I have received so far have been overwhelming. The power that words have over us is truly extraordinary. Words that were spoken decades ago can still whisper to us and impact our lives as adults, both for good and for evil.
I want to share with you one of the responses I received. I asked his permission to share this with you.
My question was… How were spoken words used in your family?
"Well, this one is tough to answer. As I navigate my way through life and parenthood, I have reflected a lot on my own childhood. While there is no doubt my parents loved me very much, unfortunately the way they chose to speak in the house contradicted love. My mother was quite verbally abusive to myself and my siblings. Mostly, she demanded a tidy home and manners. Any deviation from a clean room and manners was quickly admonished.
Saying "I love you" was rare. I learned about a decade ago that my mom’s father (he died before I was born) was both a verbal and physical abuser of his wife. I think my mom’s childhood had a deep impact on how she parented."
The other night I was reading a short story from a little devotional my mother recently gave me. If you don’t know what a “devotional" is, it’s a book designed to be read daily that references Scripture and then a concept of truth that you can cling to in your own life. I’ve honestly never been super great about being consistent with reading things like this, but over the last couple months I’ve been especially drawn to this tiny little book. The title of this particular day’s entry was "Pull down your father's altar".
There is a story in the Bible of a man named Gideon. God had big plans for Gideon, but first there were a few family dynamics to be dealt with-- like the altar his father built for a "false God". In the book of Judges, the verse says, "Pull down your father’s altar to Baal... then build an altar to the Lord your God.”
I know there are many of you reading this blog that have similar stories to the one I shared above. In fact, I know some of you have more intense, even tragic stories of how words impacted your life. So what I want to ask you is this... pull down your father’s altar? You don’t have to give your children what was given to you.
I can personally testify that the man who shared his story has absolutely and intentionally decided to use words differently with his children. Every night, as he tucks his boys into bed, he now reminds them of this truth... "You will be the head and not the tail.” Because of this father’s deliberate choice to use the Blessing, generations of his family will be forever changed.
I’m going to ask you to do something. If you share a similar story; if words spoken to you in your formative years still linger and perhaps even continue to cause pain, I want you say something out loud. Ready? I want you to say... "It ends with me. And it ends now.”
There is something I want to make sure you realize about the Blessing. It is not limited to just a once-a-year event given on a birthday. It is also, and equally important, a mindset we choose every day to use our words and actions to give life. Perhaps even over this Thanksgiving week as you are spending time with family, there will be an opportunity to incorporate the Blessing. Consider right before you begin your meal, saying out loud one thing you are thankful for about each person standing in the room. It’s ok if you feel nervous or uncomfortable as you begin; I can promise you the atmosphere will quickly change and the hearts receiving your message will be greatly impacted. It could be a Thanksgiving like no other.
Until next time, may God bless your Thanksgiving and your families. I’m especially excited that I’ll get to eat a double portion this year. :)