Monday, February 05, 2007

From My Heart, I Will Bless

Living in a large family certainly provides many opportunites to realize how easy it is to be self-focused and consumed. There are always opportunities (sometimes more than we would prefer) to give up the will of self and adopt the will of another. It is natural to experience frustration with a sibling's quirky habits and it is unnatural, at times, to forgive and live harmoniously. Because it is so easy to center on ourselves, Mom and Dad have continually emphasized throughout our lives, the concept of blessing. To this day, it is quite typical to hear Mom and Dad encourage us saying, "Bless your brother/sister." Often that means pitching in to help with a chore, letting go of rights over a certain toy, taking a younger sibling for a car ride, relinquishing some relished food item or giving up the comfortable seat on the couch. In each instance, the will of one must be surrendered to accomodate the preference of another. These little preferences, that must be released, are often surprisingly hard to let go.

I was remembering back to a point in our early childhood when we had a group of siblings living with us for nine months while their mother completed a drug rehab program. Mom and Dad, with seven small children under the age of ten, felt that we especially needed to grow in offering one another blessings. So, creatively, they posted two huge banners on our hallway walls with, what seemed at the time anyway, hundreds upon hundereds of small boxes. On top of each banner read the phrase, "From My Heart I Will Bless You." Each child that was old enough to draw a heart, would be appointed by Mom or Dad the privilege of taking a marker and placing a colored heart in a small box of their choosing after recognition for an act of blessing. Oh, how long that chart seemed to contain so many small empty boxes! But slowly, as the work of crucifying will began to take its work, the chart began to fill. How fun it was to lend a helping hand to a sibling as they carried around the laundry cubbies to their destination when it could be followed by a colorful sketch on the wall.

And what excitement it was to hear Mom tell us one very hot summer day that if we could finish filling in the few remaining boxes on the wall, we would celebrate with a trip to the local waterpark! How dilligently we searched for garbage to take out or towels to help fold so that those last few hearts could be placed in their vacant boxes.

I believe that death to self and life to Christ will be my work until death. But this childhood memory will always serve as a reminder of the joy found in the experience.