It is 6:35am Monday morning, and I am not awake enough to keep my eyes open to type a complete sentence. Yet, I have plopped myself on the couch with my laptop on my lap (clever name) and I’m writing my new blog. Exactly why do I do this to myself…?
Last week I had the most startling lesson I have had since I have been here. My faithful readers may recall that on Thanksgiving I wrote about the openness of people’s faith in God here in the South as compared to how westerners express their faith in public. So, when I saw this Facebook status update on my friend’s wall, I was completely perplexed: “Just told someone bless your heart.. he said thank you.. clearly they don’t know what that means when a southern girl says it.. oops.”
This could have been written about me! I have said “Thank you” when someone said “Bless your heart”! I thought it was a kind expression. There is obviously another meaning to this statement of “encouragement”.
I immediately had to know what this other definition was. I inquired on her wall but I had no immediate response. The next best thing was urbandictionary.com. I always tread lightly when walking into this website. Tact and social grace are not words I would use to describe the delivery of information here. Nevertheless, I had to know what “Bless your heart” really means. Urbandicationary.com defines it this way:
A term used prior to ridiculing, insulting the sensibilities of, or pointing out the shortcomings of someone. Used to soften the blow of a statement, and can render nearly any comment, no matter how brash or distasteful, socially acceptable.
In other words, when someone says “Bless your heart” what she is REALLY saying is “You are pitiful.”
A common use of the expression may sound something like this. I’ve heard a version of this many times. “Little Johnny is eight years old and hasn’t passed kindergarten yet. Bless his heart.” Or the ever popular “Little Johnny has a face only a mother could love. Bless his heart.”
Like the poor guy my friend refers to in her status update, I have said “Thank you” when I was being insulted. That is downright embarrassing. Ah, but now I am the wiser. Thank you Facebook for the lesson of the year.