It is a widely-known witticism that when you talk about someone in the South, one can self-pardon by simply adding the words, “bless their heart.” The reality is, what is being said rarely does actually bless anybody. It seems harmless enough, until it plays out in the theater of our family dramas, causing pointless division and hard feelings. It is no blessing at all when real relationships are being destroyed.
What is behind all the phony romanticism of family gossip? Most often an actor who, once all the costuming and makeup is off, is controlled by spirits of superiority, anger, envy, attention seeking, and even boredom. I have personified each and every one of these spirits and performed to the dominion of evil to thunderous applause. And each time it was over, I was left feeling dishonored. I know I am not alone. Now that we see our raw reflections, what can we do to transform ourselves into true “heart bless-ers?”
A good starting point might be to prayerfully explore why a family member demands so much of our individual and collective energy and attention. Are we being directed to personify a harmful spirit, or is the Spirit of God giving us the opportunity to redirect ourselves into a healthy place of heart-blessing, where we can all flourish? We can also do what good actors do and put ourselves into the skin of the other person. This makes the other person real. We cannot fully know someone else’s burdens, but God does. In fact, Jesus put Himself in our shoes in his earthly debut as Savior of the world. It was His breakout role that blessed every heart.
Our families deserve our very best, whether they be biological, adopted, friends, church, community, or work. If we really want to bless their hearts, and we don’t have anything nice to say, then perhaps another Southern saying serves us best – “then just say nothin’ at all.” I believe God honors that, too. ■