Blessingby Gary Smalley
Brian spent a lifetime seeking his father's approval. His father wanted him to be the best and the brightest, and Brian tried - desperately! When his father lay dying, Brian rushed to his bedside to plead one last time, "Please say you love me, please!"
We all have a powerful need to know that someone in this world loves us and accepts us unconditionally. We
Brian spent a lifetime seeking his father's approval. His father wanted him to be the best and the brightest, and Brian tried - desperately! When his father lay dying, Brian rushed to his bedside to plead one last time, "Please say you love me, please!"
We all have a powerful need to know that someone in this world loves us and accepts us unconditionally. We especially crave our parents' blessing, and without it, we may become angry and driven, or detached and empty. We may also feel this hurtful lack between brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, or even within our religious congregation.
Now family counselors Gary Smalley and John Trent, Ph.D., show us how we can transform our lives - even when it is no longer possible to receive our parents' blessing. They reveal the five key elements of the blessing, describe the most common home situations where a blessing has been denied (one of them may be ours), and offer practical, effective methods to heal broken hearts and families. Most important, they explain how we can be a blessing, and pass on that life-changing gift to our love ones.
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The BLESSINGGiving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance
By John Trent Gary Smalley
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2011 John Trent and Gary Smalley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTo Change a Life
The writing of every book has its own story. For me, the story of this book is one that changed my life.
It has now been more than thirty years since two intensely personal experiences collided on the same day. It began on my first day as an intern at a psychiatric hospital. It ended with the Lord opening my eyes to the life-changing power of a simple relational tool called the blessing.
That day at the hospital, I spent a full shift sitting next to a young man on twenty-four-hour suicide watch. He was tall, handsome, well mannered, and an excellent student. In fact, he had been a straight-A student in high school and for three years of college. When he caught the flu the first semester of his senior year, that all changed. In a required PE course he had put off until then, he missed so many classes that his instructor gave him an automatic grade reduction to B for the semester. When the young man found out that there was no extra credit, no way to substitute other classes, and now no way to change his grade or drop the course, he fell into instant despair. He left the teachers office, went back to his dorm room, and tried to take his life. He would have succeeded had his roommate not unexpectedly and providentially returned.
As we sat and talked, and as I tried not to stare at his bandaged wrists, this young man poured out his heart to me. His story included a brilliant, demanding, engineer father who had gotten straight As himself and demanded nothing less from his oldest son. It highlighted how hard he had tried, all his life, to gain his fathers favor. And it ultimately led to how his failing to get an A in a tennis class brought the death of a dream—and nearly his own death as well.
This young man desperately yearned for something he couldn't quite define—something that was always in sight, yet somehow never within reach. His heartbreaking tale left a haunting, indelible impression on me. I went home late that afternoon and shared the events of the day at length with my wife, Cindy. While I was still pondering and processing what had happened, the second of two dramatic events took place.
It was nighttime when I finally sat down and began working on a message for a couples Sunday school class. While I'm sure you would never do such a thing if you were the teacher, I was just beginning my message—for the next day—and kicking myself for letting school, work, and family crowd in so much. Looking back, I can see how Almighty God had his hand in the timing: after sitting down for hours next to that hurting young man, I now sat down and opened my Bible to Genesis 27.
Genesis 27 tells the story of twins: Jacob and Esau. I had read of the struggle between these two brothers countless times in the past. My plan was to speed-read through the passage and throw together a few inspired thoughts. Yet that night, with each word I read, time seemed to slow down. It was as if I saw, for the first time, the intensely personal story of how these two young men struggled so mightily to receive the same gift.
In fact, that night, it wasn't just words that I saw. It was like I could see each boy's face. The ear-to-ear smile and unbridled joy in Jacob's eyes when he walked away with his father's blessing. The crushing look of shock and loss on Esau's tormented face when he realized he would never receive that gift.
When Esau lifted up his voice and cried in anguish, "Bless me—me also, O my father!" I suddenly saw not only Esau's unfulfilled longing and broken heart but also an echo of the tears and desperate cries I had heard as I sat next to the heartbroken young man in the hospital. And at that moment, it was as if the Lord put tangible words to the intangible something that young man had longed for all his life.
He missed his father's blessing ... That's what broke his heart!
As that thought washed over me, I read Esau's pitiful, heartbreaking, repeated cry, "Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me—me also, O my father!" (Gen. 27:38). Just as suddenly, I had words for my own pain and hurt. For all my life I, too, had longed for something I had never received from my own father—his blessing.
Long into the night, I studied and thought and remembered and prayed, and the next day was the first time I taught a group about the blessing. In a small basement classroom at Northwest Bible Church in Dallas, Texas, on a rainy Sunday morning, twenty couples heard about Jacob's gain and Esau's loss. They were the first people I ever asked whether they had received this life-changing gift from their parents.
The impact was incredible. The nodding heads. The tears in too many eyes. The discussion in the hallway, long after class. The calls that came for days afterward from people who felt as if Esau's cry was their own—and from just as many who wanted to make sure they were giving the blessing to their children.
"Can you tell me more about that blessing?"
So began a personal, now thirty-plus-year study of the blessing. It became the subject of my doctoral dissertation and the basis for this book. (The original edition was written with the incomparable Dr. Gary Smalley, who continues to support our blessing ministry in many practical ways.) It also launched seminars and talks I've done and continue to do on the blessing at churches and even stadiums across the country. Rather than adding layers of dust to a stale concept, years of teaching about this amazing Old Testament concept has caused interest to mushroom, not diminish.
When this book was first published, the Internet was reserved for high-end computer users in major universities. Today, blessing messages go out as tweets and e-mails or text messages sent from BlackBerries and iPhones. Yet with all the advances in technology, the challenges of raising children in a world haunted by terrorism and social upheaval has drawn people—more than ever—to want strong, loving families. In that search they keep coming back to God's Word ... and to the blessing.
Perhaps you are reading this book as a third-generation Christian and have personally benefited from a long tradition of blessing children. If that is the case, you may well find yourself saying, "So that's why our family has stayed so close all these years!" Or perhaps you are like my wife, Cindy, and me: first-generation Christians from difficult backgrounds—hers an alcoholic home, mine a single-parent home—each wanting to pass on to our children more than we received. This book can put into words what you missed as a child as well as provide practical, hands-on ways of communicating unconditional love and acceptance to your children and loved ones.
Hardly a day goes by that I don't get an e-mail (and, yes, "snail mail" too) from a joyful, now-grown child whose aging parent finally gave him the blessing for the first time—or from a child who went out of her way to return the blessing to her father or mother and changed their relationship for the better. I hear from athletes and students who never received the blessing at home but who found those life-changing actions and words modeled by a coach, teacher, or youth leader. And I get to read or hear about the excitement and commitment of new fathers and mothers determined to give their newborn child a gift they missed themselves.
Which leads us to today, to this very special edition of The Blessing—an ancient, relational, biblical tool whose time has come.
A Call to Action
Every so often, there comes a unique time, opportunity, or experience. I believe all three happened when you picked up this book.
Today is indeed a unique time for you to take part in a significant challenge that launches with this book.
Along the way, you will learn about an unparalleled opportunity to create a radically positive experience that can be nothing short of life changing for you and for a child in your life.
This new edition of The Blessing trumpets a call to action for a huge gathering of parents—literally one million of them—from every corner of our country and world. Men and women who know it's time to go counterculture and do something truly great in this age of just getting along.
What is that something great?
Changing the life of just one child.
And how will it get done?
You guessed it—through the blessing.
A powerful relational tool, whose elements were first shared in the Bible, The Blessing continues to be reconfirmed in both ongoing and completed clinical studies, providing a model for a strong, thriving family. It's a way of helping children (and adults) experience at the deepest level of their hearts the certainty that they are highly valued and forever treasured by someone incredibly significant in their life stories. And it lays out a simple path to follow—five specific actions parents or other caring persons can take, no matter how busy their lives or challenging their circumstances.
The Blessing is not just for children, of course. As we'll see, the principles in this book can transform marriages, friendships, and adult-sibling relationships. Grown children—even those whose parents refused to accept and affirm them—have used these principles to reach out to those very parents in blessing. But because childhood experiences are so powerful in shaping lives, the primary focus of this book is helping adults, especially parents, to give the blessing to children or, as we have said, to just one child.
We all have heard (and by now have mostly grown numb to) television commercials that tug on our heartstrings and implore us to "help the children"—meaning poor kids out there in a different part of town or another country. That's a valuable message, but it is not the message of this book. Instead it's about reaching out to that one child within your reach and letting your blessing become an agent of life for him or her.
Before we get specific about how the blessing works and how you can give it, let me share with you four reasons why taking the blessing challenge can be so absolutely transformational.
The Blessing ... Fights Back Against a Toxic Culture
What we are asking you to do in this book runs counter to our dominant culture in these crazy times. With adults working so hard to make ends meet—and some simply preoccupied with their own agendas—there seems to be less and less time for children, and children suffer as a result.
Many children struggle today with what experts call attachment disorder. That's the failure of children and young adults to create significant bonds with their parents or others as they get older. They stumble down a road toward broken relationships. They enter young adulthood—and later marriage—with a deep desire for connection but without the understanding, modeling, experience, or confidence that they really can build loving, lasting relationships for themselves. They step back from what they want most because they've never seen what it looks like to have someone step toward them.
These are kids who need to experience the blessing in loving homes right now.
Can the blessing challenge reverse this trend?
My experience tells me it can make a big difference—by offering you a strategy for redeeming some of your precious time with your children and strengthening your bond with them. The blessing provides a parenting path that is so practical, so clear, so gently sloped, that if you will just start it, you will soon find yourself gaining momentum in terms of capturing closeness and caring with your family. It offers a way of reclaiming connection with your child no matter how many hours our culture (or your boss) tries to carve out of your month!
The Blessing ... Can Open a Child's Heart to a Lasting Faith
According to a recent survey, fully eight out of ten parents report that passing a strong faith to their children was "important" or "very important" to them. Yet while a majority of Americans want these benefits to be a part of their children's lives and futures, studies also show that it's not happening. Depending on which study you choose, anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of children who sit in a second-grade Sunday school class at church today won't be attending any religious services or meetings when they reach their high-school years. In fact, they won't be claiming any kind of growing faith at all.
To understand why this is, it's crucial to understand how a living faith in Christ is successfully transferred. It doesn't happen by teaching a set of rules or customs or passing along a set of traditions, though many think of religion this way. Christianity is and has been primarily about a relationship. And the blessing is all about building relationships. When we give children the blessing, we are laying an incredible relational foundation that not only helps them connect with other people but can also prepare their hearts for a relationship with Jesus.
Those are two crucial benefits of taking the blessing challenge. You'll have a tool—no matter how busy you are—to help you battle the cultural phenomenon of attachment disorder with genuine connection. And in learning to give the blessing, you will also be opening a child's heart to a living, lasting faith. But there's also a third benefit.
The Blessing ... Can Help Heal the Hurts from the Past
Let's face it. Even those who grow up in the best and most loving of homes can come away with a degree of hurt or disappointment. So how do we cope? Even more important, what can we do to move past the significant damage that a difficult childhood can cause? How can we prevent a painful past from having a negative impact on our present and future relationships? The blessing can make a surprising difference by offering an alternative to damaging self-protective mechanisms we may have developed over the years.
Children simply don't have the maturity or understanding to deal with hurt and pain, so they tend to grab on to anything they can find to protect themselves and help them cope. Whatever works—athletic prowess, academic success, good looks, even drugs or alcohol—they want to repeat. By the time they grow up, they may have created layer upon layer of self-protection.
The trouble is, self-protection has a shelf life! Success is fleeting. Looks fade. Addictive substances and activities can bring dramatic life-long damage. More important, none of these self-protective mechanisms offer real, unshakable, lasting confidence and connection—which is exactly what the blessing offers.
Instead of having to wrap themselves in self-protection, children who receive the blessing can be freed to pursue God's best in every area of their lives. And adults can too! My colleague Tony Wheeler and I have seen this again and again in our workshops. As grownups learn to give the blessing to their children, they also learn how to move away from their own hurtful, self-protective pasts.
Imagine not having to live in fear of wrinkles or slowing down. Imagine not having to worry about acquiring all the "toys" someone else has. Imagine moving beyond issues that have held you back for years and finally making peace with your past. That's another life-changing part of experiencing the blessing from God and others—and a third great benefit of taking the blessing challenge.
Here, then, is one last benefit ...
The Blessing ... Is Part of Your Call to a Real and Radical Faith
A number of Christian books and messages today call young (and old) believers to a "sold out" life of faith. For example, in reading books such as Crazy Love and Radical, you find a much-needed call to pursue a Great Commission lifestyle as a real-life goal. But adopting a Great Commission or "missional" lifestyle doesn't mean leaving your important relationships in the dust as you seek to win others for Christ. In fact, if you are not living out a crazy, radical faith and love for Christ with your family and own children first, you have missed a huge first step!
Excerpted from The BLESSING by John Trent Gary Smalley Copyright © 2011 by John Trent and Gary Smalley. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley powerfully communicates biblical truths on how to pass on a blessing to others, particularly our own family members; it teaches us on how to instill self-worth and emotional well-being into others. As mentioned in the book, there are five essential elements that comprise a blessing: * meaningful touch * a spoken message * attaching high value * picturing a special future, and * an active commitment. As a medical doctor, I particularly like the part where the authors mention about the various physiological benefits of a meaningful touch. For example, the authors mention that there are over one-third of our five million touch receptors centered in our hands! In another part, the authors mentioned about the various studies done by Dolores Krieger, a professor of nursing at New York University on the effects of laying on of hands. What she found is that both the toucher and the one being touched receive a psychological benefit from this practice. Repeatedly, Dr. Krieger has found that hemoglobin levels in both people's bloodstreams go up during the act of laying on of hands. As hemoglobin levels are invigorated, body tissues receive more oxygen. This increase of oxygen energizes a person and can even aid in the regenerative process if he or she is ill. In yet another part, the authors mention about a study done at UCLA which found that men and women need eight to ten meaningful touches a day just to maintain emotional and physical health. Even in the animal kingdom, meaningful touch in infancy causes rats' brains to put a brake on the development of glucocorticoids and other stress hormones. Therefore, as the authors mention, parents, in particular, need to know that neglecting to meaningfully touch their children can starve them of genuine acceptance-so much so that it can drive them into the arms of someone else who is all too willing to touch them. Intrigued by what the authors wrote, I went to the back section of the bibliographic part. I was a bit disappointed to find that for some of these studies that the authors quoted, they did not quote the original sources (although in many others cases, they did). Instead of quoting the primary sources, occasionally they quoted secondary sources, even sources like Reader's Digest. I wish the authors could have quoted more from the original scientific papers as these would enable readers to go and find out more by retrieving these original publications. Overall, however, this is a challenging book that should be read by all, especially those in positions of authority.
Since I am a part of the program, Book Sneeze, I got to choose a book to receive for free in return for my review. I chose the book The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley. I have read other books from them before and so I was excited to see what this book has to offer. I think it is great must read for parents, grandparents and anyone in general. It really opened my eyes up to how I am raising my children. Children are so vunerable at this small age and basically all they want to do is to please their parents. And it continues as they grow into adults. I think that children are a blessing to us and just to give them our blessing to them as humans and as people means the world to people. I think that people think their kids are just there and parents are too busy to acknowledge their own kids and I think that they need to read this book. Even back in biblical times children were looking for their parents blessing. Looking back to Jacob and Esau, all Jacob wanted was for his father to bless him. And he actually tricked his father into giving him his brothers blessing. How many children are out there longing to have their parents just tell them I love you for who you are. I think this book is a great parenting book and I definately recommend it to anyone and everyone. I received this book free to review from Thomas Nelson through their BookSneeze program. Any opinion I post is my own opinion.
Every person needs to be blessed in their lives through parental approval. This blessing fosters a sense of self-worth and purpose in life. It is essential to one's emotional well-being. The updated and revised version of The Blessing provides a clear picture of what "the blessing" should look like. Breaking up the concept into five elements, John Trent and Gary Smalley teach you how to bless your own children or any special person in your life. But what if you didn't receive "the blessing"? Are you destined to forever search for your missing blessing in all the wrong places? Will your children be robbed of "the blessing" as well? The Blessing offers insights on how to determine if you received "the blessing". For those who didn't, the authors present a comforting and assuring look at how to uncover and overcome past hurts through the healing power of God's love. You'll learn how to receive "the blessing" in your own life and pass it on to others. The Blessing is a powerful book, packed full of encouraging words backed by Scripture. The authors offer deeply personal stories to illustrate various aspects of "the blessing" and demonstrate how these concepts can be applied to daily living. If applied correctly, the contents of this book have the potential to change your life. This book is for anyone, whether you received "the blessing" or missed out on it. If you seek to make your loved ones feel valued and purposeful, then look no further than The Blessing. Note: In this updated and revised edition of The Blessing, the authors issue a challenge to their readers. They are calling one million parents to bless at least one child each. The authors also want to see one thousand churches equipped to create an ongoing culture inside the church to encourage "the blessing." They ask that churches pick any one Sunday in August 2011 and share a special message that encourages families to partake in the "Blessing Challenge." They will provide starter kits, which include sermon outlines and power point slides. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Over the past few days, I have read a complimentary copy of The Blessing from BookSneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing. The Blessing authored by John Trent and Gary Smalley, recently revised and updated, lays out a plan for parents to utilize to bless their children as in days of old. Taking cues primarily from the Old Testament, such as Isaac blessing Jacob, the authors give five main points to incorporate into blessings. Every child, person for that matter, as an inherent need to be loved, accepted and esteemed by others. A blessing not only adds value to the receiver, but can set the direction of their lives. When a parent or spouse degrades their child or significant other, respectively, they are tearing away at the person's sense of identity. On the other hand, imagine a parent consistently sitting down with a child, cradling him or her, speaking words of significance and distinction. That child is going to know they belong to a family who loves him, accepts him and believes in him as an individual. One of the highlights for me was that Trent and Smalley intermittently pose questions to the reader that allow him or her to ponder their own background and upbringing. Were you given meaningful touch, messages of value and a wonderful future in store? Are you passing along what you want to to your child? It is amazing to see the difference words can have on a life. A parent has the ability to build that child up. Your tongue holds great power to destroy or build up. 1 Peter 3:10, "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile." The Blessing can be a blessing to not only the reader, but an entire new generation and beyond. Children will imitate even later in life what they are shown in the beginning. Love can heal old wounds; love can open new doors. A blessing coming from a parent can direct the course of a young one's life. I truly hope that this book gets read by every parent who wants to be a parent of hope and love. Blessings to the children!
I was really excited to be reading about the blessing for two reasons. I had just read "A Place Called Blessing" by the same author John Trent and that book was SUPERB!!! One of the best books I've read in a long time. Second reason is because my dad is always telling me about the promises and blessings that God gives to us. In fact, just the other day, he told me to learn more about the blessings. The first thing I thought of was this book. So I picked it up and started. But the book was slow and difficult for me to read. I kept eagerly looking to find out what this blessing thing was all about and I couldnt find it. Halfway through the book, I finally realized what the blessing was and it has 5 aspects to it. The author gives one chapter per aspect. I do believe the blessing is important and something we should all use and could incorportate into our lives, but I think the author could have done a much better job writing about it. Because of the authors boring slow writing, I give this book 3 stars. It meant well, but its hard to get into it and really enjoy it. I also didn't find the authors writing style inspirational at all. How disappointing! What a drop off from the story-telling emotional writing that John Trent used in his book "A Place Called Blessing" A disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher Thomas Nelson free of charge but I always give honest reviews. I want you to be able to choos the best book based on stars because I know you have limited time and energy to read. I would not recommend this book to you and your friends.
I bought and read this book several years ago and was very impressed by it. After following its guidance to good effect in my own family, I lent my copy to a co-worker, who passed it on to another... I'm overjoyed to be able to get ahold of another copy!