When I turned 16, my parents asked if they could give me what they called a “Father’s Blessing.” It is not referred to as this for gender specificity, or because it has to come from a biological father. Rather, it is called a “Father’s Blessing” because we are all created with an innate desire, or need even, to be valued, to be loved, to have purpose and believed be in from a “Father like” position or foundation in our life. Many of us have had the opposite of this given to us, with many fathers out of the picture, and still others who have never received this themselves so they do not know how to pass it on to those around them.
I bring this up for one particular reason: There is a special statement my father spoke over me in this blessing that I have since gone back to often. At that time I didn’t realize what a revolutionary statement this was, but I later discovered the power these words held in my life. They are words that set me free to see and live in a renewed way. They are words that were meant for me, that I believe can have great significance for us all:
“I’m very proud to have you carry the LeTourneau name to future generations. I hope you don’t believe that I think you’re a lesser person because you’re not like me in every area of life. That’s a common belief among sons of type-A dads. The truth is that I think the best hope for the LeTourneau name lies in the very ways that you’re different from me.”
My father then went on to highlight and appreciate my differences, not as negative or needing correction, but to appreciate those differences—recognizing these differences not as divisive but as special components that could actually bring more value, hope and life to our family and the world if and when embraced correctly. He didn’t just highlight external or behavioral differences, but he highlighted and gave approval to the “special marks of DNA” and the “hidden gold” that he and my mom saw in my identity. This was important for me because I was just coming out of a time in life of really searching for identity, having lost some of my vision for who I was created to be. The blessing, these words, and what they really meant helped me re-discover where my gold had been the whole time and reminded me to live from that place rather than search or strive for it in other ways.
What if we learned to bless and appreciate the differences in others in this way? What if we recognized that the very best hope for hope itself could be found in many of our differences? And by differences, I’m not focusing on opinions, supporting forms of rebellion, or talking about external differences we often pursue for our identity. I’m speaking of the unique “Identity-like” DNA kind of differences that we all carry—the kind that we can even become insecure about because we fear that we are less than. Can you imagine a world where our differences didn’t divide us, but united us instead? A world where I am so content with the gold in me, that I can also support and bless the gold in you? What if we didn’t envy one another’s gold, but empowered it instead!
Impact of the Father’s Blessing
When we arrived in Ethiopia we didn’t know where to begin. However, it wasn’t long before we started spending time at that local children’s home I’ve shared previously. As I’ve said already, this was not your average orphanage. It was already a house of hope; they just didn’t know it yet.
As we spent time with the kids and got to see those treasures up close, we were privileged to see the hope building up from within. They had as much to give the world as we did, we just had to find a way to bring it to the surface and help them see in themselves what—and whom—we saw. I shared about the impact they began to have arising from their difficult circumstances, but what I hadn’t shared yet is what helped trigger that vision and belonging that we gave them. Much of the transformation and empowerment we saw come to life began when we gave them each a “Father’s Blessing.”
We spent a few more weeks getting to know the kids, taking notes of characteristics and intangibles that marked their lives. We looked for their “gold” so we could highlight it for them to mine with us. We arranged a special ceremony (simply a favorite meal together, but with intention) letting them know we had a special surprise for them. We had prepared (and translated) a Father’s Blessing for them each, headlined by their name and a photo, and framed for safekeeping.
We decided we would begin with the oldest boy, whom we had been told by the facilitators of the home was going through a rough time and hadn’t really been himself. We called him up to us in front of the other kids sitting nearby and we began to read this “Father’s Blessing” over him. I will never forget that moment! It was like watching the sunrise on his life from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head. His whole countenance changed. We don’t always see something immediate, but with him, it was just what his heart was longing for and from that moment on he became a leader of hope in their group, and home.
The rest of that evening as we gave the Father’s Blessing, this young man was helping lead the way speaking hopeful encouragements into each of their lives. Not only was he encouraged, he was already living into his potential and making sure others could as well.
It wasn’t long after this that this whole group of once “orphans” (who have all been adopted by loving families since) started to help us write and give a similar “Father’s Blessing” to the kids we were working with throughout the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was their words that filled the new translated blessing we folded up like a brochure and presented to street children in restaurants during mini banquets. It was those 8 children from that treasure-filled “orphanage” who became the multipliers of hope, casting it brightly for other kids even less fortunate than them to see, to receive, and hopefully live.
So, when you look into this section of the Father’s Blessing, look at it through this lens of possibility. You have an opportunity to father/mother hope in their lives. This is an opportunity to affirm their value, help them dig up their gold, and give them courage to live out their true worth towards the world all around them. Those kids in Ethiopia were the picture, for us, of what is possible when hope arises in even the most unlikely of places.
That’s where I want to start right now. If you have grown up, and even raised kids or grandkids of your own, and have never had a father or mother stop life long enough to look at you, see your heart and all the goodness and treasures inside you; if you’ve never had someone see the best in you and be able to speak it out over you, that’s what I want to start with right now.
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