By Verna Davis
For The Herald Bulletin
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my uncle and his family in Florida. One hot summer day, my aunt asked me to go to the store for her. I thought I would walk, but the heat and humidity changed my mind. My cousin, Tom, volunteered to “carry” me to the store. Tom might have been four years older, but was he that strong? “Carry me?” I asked. “How are you going to do that?” Tom rolled his eyes. “I’m not going to actually ‘carry’ you. I mean I’ll tote you there.”
I’m sure I still looked puzzled; in my vernacular, a tote was a bag you used to carry stuff when you left the house. “Wouldn’t it be easier if you just drove me?” Exasperated, Tom answered, “Bless your heart, Verna, you can’t help being a Yankee. But I sure wish you could understand plain English. Of course I’m going to drive you. What did you think I was saying?”
My sister, Diana Leslie, lived over half her life south of the Mason-Dixon Line. She spoke her own brand of Southern English. She didn’t say words like “pie” and “smile” and “fine” like she did when she was a Hoosier. Diana used to tell me, “Bless your heart, little sister, you can’t help it if you haven’t learned how to speak right.” Of course, when she said that, “right” sounds a lot like “rat,” bless her heart.
I’ve heard friends of mine say things like, “Bless her heart, she really ought not to be wearing that dress.” Not long ago, I heard a senior citizen utter, “He’s just about the nicest man I know, but bless his heart, I wish he would do something about that gut hanging over his belt.”
Recently, at a local restaurant, I overheard a conversation between two women. (OK, I was eavesdropping, bless my heart!) The women were talking about a mutual friend. One lady said, “He’s very good looking, don’t you think?” Her friend answered, “Yes, but bless his heart, so is my dog.”
Saying “bless your heart” is a strange way of bestowing blessings, don’t you think? “Bless your heart” is a lethal phrase, full of venom and criticism. It’s the verbal equivalent of a TKO. “Bless her heart, she can’t help being ugly, but she should have stayed home.” WHAM! One blessing like that and you are down for the count!
Now, bless your heart, don’t misunderstand. I looked up “bless” in my dictionary. It means to consecrate, to make holy. A blessing is a request to God to give supreme favor or protection on a person or thing. In short, you want those you bless to be blessed. No insults or complaints or ridiculing is allowed in blessing others. And that goes for our country, too.
Psalm 33:12 says: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
Today, let us pray that our hearts be blessed as God’s holy dwelling places, overflowing with His love and compassion — for each other and for America. Let us pray that the hearts of our friends and our political leaders be blessed with wisdom and honor.
Bless our hearts, let’s start blessing each other.
Verna Davis, author and speaker, writes in Frankton. She can be reached at Vrdspeaks@yahoo.com.