“To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer. It is more than a word of praise or appreciation; it is more than pointing out someone’s talents or good deeds; it is more than putting someone in the light. To give a blessing is to affirm, to say ‘yes’ to a person’s Belovedness.” – Henri Nouwen
Have you ever been the recipient of a blessing? I mean, a true blessing. The type of blessing that Henri Nouwen speaks of. I have. And it’s totally disarming. It’s uncomfortable at first. Your immediate thoughts are not “Well. It’s about time someone blesses my moral elitism. Thank you for the blessing. I’ll take it.” Nah. Your first thoughts are a firehose of reasons why you don’t deserve the blessing. All the major screw ups in your life flash before your eyes like a brainwashing film reel. You’re dizzy with the strobe-lit reality of your brokenness. You kind of want to scream through your salty tears and snot-bubbling nostrils, “But I’ve F’ed up! I’m too messy to receive this! Take me now, Jesus!” At least, this was my reaction. (Dramatic, I know. But it felt real.)
The blessing I received came from multiple people. It was a particular blessing – a traveling blessing. I knew the Spirit was alluring me to pilgrimage. She has a lot of work she wants to do in my heart and she needed to draw me out in order to carve away the stone that hides my true image. But to commence this pilgrimage, I had to confess some things. Some ugly things. I actually confessed these things ages ago (because I knew, even then, that when things are brought to the light, they have no power over you. And I didn’t want this to have power over me anymore). So with the grace of a counselor and a few dear friends, the ugly I kept in the dark was brought to the light. And wouldn’t you know it, a floodgate of healing rushed over me. Turns out, the words of Jesus are real – the truth really does set you free. But the path to full healing and full freedom has layers. And this second round of confession was just another layer that needed to be shed.
So there I was. Standing before 3 of my pastors. Yes, standing. Because I didn’t know what to do. What do you do when you’re shaking with the weight of your sin? Am I supposed to kneel? Cover my face? Stand? Sit? Hide? (Good Lord I wanted to hide) They told me to sit. So I sat. And I wept. They gave me a box of tissues. I think I used the entire box. Revealing your crap isn’t fun. And you don’t look pretty doing it. At least I didn’t. Snot. Lots of snot. Tears that drenched my face as much as the sweat that soaked my shirt. I sweat when I’m nervous. But I also sweat when I laugh, so there’s that. Especially through my right armpit. Snot. Tears. Sweat. Confession…. there I sat. As vulnerable and naked as one could possibly be. And there I waited. How would they respond? (Deep down, I actually knew how they would respond because I know my church. And my church is amazing. But there was the real possibility that my shit was too nasty for even my church to help make clean.) But I didn’t have to wait very long, for they nearly interrupted my confession.
“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Brianna, there is no condemnation for you. You are a new creation.”
And just when I thought I couldn’t possibly cry or sweat any more. I wept like a baby. But this time it was tears (and snot and sweat) of freedom. They blessed me. They affirmed my belovedness. They sent me on pilgrimage. They gave me, without hesitation, a traveling blessing and an eternal blessing. And all I could do was weep. But this round of weeping actually was pretty, because I was free.
I want to continue receiving this blessing. Sometimes you have to fight to receive. Because sometimes lies can be a bitch and they can try to steal your blessing. I want to fight to keep my blessing and let it restore me from the inside out. And then I want to give blessings as generously as my pastors. I think we live in a world that is desperate for a blessing. A true blessing. The type of blessing that disarms the pretenses and fills the soul with light. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus is a crazy blessing giver. Just look at the cross. I’m going to take my traveling blessing and become, even more, the woman I’m created to be.