Thursday, July 1, 2010

The "Bless and Slam" Routine: It's Grandma-Gittin'-Out-the-Tub Ugly! (Sorry Grandma!)

I knew a lady in Tennessee several years ago who was like the character named Rachel Lynde in the Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea movies. Rachel Lynde beamed with pride that "she was known around these parts as a woman who speaks her mind." (A person like that is usually known!) The woman in Tennessee was just the same. She told me early on in our church relationship (I was a youth pastor and she an elderly woman in the church) that I should not worry about what she said because she was a straight talker who "likes to tell it like it is" or some other synonym for opinionated venting; verbal voiding.

Christians, of which I am one, are fond of "speaking the truth in love." Sometimes, however, we use that as code for the old "bless and slam" routine. Back in Texas, the way it works is you say, "Bless his [or her]heart . . ." and then slam the person any way you want to. The "bless his [or her] heart . . ." qualifier allows you to go on record as "loving" the person you are about to slam, but declares that what you are about to say is the truth and needs to be said, though at the expense of the person so dearly loved.

Jesus said, ". . . wisdom is proved right by all her children (Luke 7:35)." The same could be said about love. It is easy for us to say, "I love you." It is interesting when you stumble upon a person who still thinks that if you say magic words like "I love you," they cancel out all bad behavior and the recipient of the words is obligated to accept them without question.

But just saying the words doesn't make it so. When you truly love a person it will guide your actions where that person is concerned. That's why Paul can say that love is the fulfillment of the Law: "Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law(Romans 13:10)."

If someone really loves me--the relationship is real, trustworthy, tried and true--that person can say things to me that may cause pain, but I can recover and will benefit from them because they flow out of genuine love. The pain felt will be due to the reality of the words said, not the shock at being betrayed or something worse.

So, the question is, this person that you are going to confront: do you genuinely love them? Have you shown that in real deeds? If so, pray and then let love dictate your words. If not, brace yourself Effie! It's going to get ugly--Grandma-gittin'-out-the-tub ugly! (Sorry Grandma!)


  1. Is it easier to say Im a "Christian" than it is to say I love you? I think so.
    I thought I was a Christian growing up in a Catholic home. But as you pointed out just saying the words doesn't make it so. I never really followed Christ as a Catholic. Don't get me wrong many of them do but I was following a religious belief and not Jesus.
    Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and is this genuine Love that Paul talks about.
    I have to admit that I have a hard time saying the magic words " I love you." We did not grow up in a family that said that although criticism and conflict was more of the norm. Sort of like the old Cheech and Chong comedy skit that said " I know my mama loves me but she can be jive'n me too"..... in reality loving my neighbor as I do myself is a very hard concept for me. So the question is if someone really loves us should we confront them at all?
    Maybe i'll just keep my mouth shut from now on.

  2. The question of saying "I love you" and actually loving can be two different things. I could have trouble saying the words but a bigger issue is do I have trouble loving? If I can truly love a person, then I am qualified to confront. Now, if a person breaks down my front door, I am going to confront him in some way, but that's not what we are talking about. As we go about our life in this world we must speak the truth in love. If we can focus on loving genuinely, we will have a lot easier time when the dreaded "confronting" happens.

    I love Bonhoeffer's words concerning spiritual love. he says true spiritual love will not try and coerce someone but will confront with the word of God and then leave the person alone, for a long time if need be, and let Christ deal with the person. In fact, he says true spiritual love will not try and have direct access to the object of love but will access the other person through Christ.

  3. I remember this from class...very thought provoking and very sound advice. Not bad for marriage advice as well!

    Rachel I went to Liberty, so the whole 'Bless her heart' was their excuse to say anything they wanted about someone w/o it sounding like an insult..."She looks so fat in that dress...oh, bless her heart..."

  4. Yep. I guess it's not just Texans huh? We can't resist the opportunity to slam so we "bless" to cover it. I need to get the Rachel Lynde clip ready for class sometime.