A good friend of mine from Charlotte, North Carolina once told me, “You know down here in the South you can say absolutely anything as long as you follow it with ‘Bless her heart!'”
“She’s gained as much weight as a Mack truck. Bless her heart!” “His dance moves look a lot like Kevin James’ in Hitch. Bless his heart!” “Her best yoga pose is the corpse, but she tries. Bless her heart!”
I’m saying something critical or gossipy but “Bless her heart” conveys a compassionate heart. It’s my get out of jail free card. He or she may be really messed up, but because I care, it’s ok to name the weakness or transgression.
Here in Minnesota we don’t really say “Bless their hearts.” often. Our “Bless his heart” sounds like, “Just sayin'” to make something harsh seem more acceptable. Or, “We should pray for them.”
My “Bless their heart” sounds more like, “I think that worship leader is more obsessed with looking like Bono than leading worship. But that’s really my issue.” See what I did there? It may be my issue – I may be hyper-sensitive to it, but I also planted a seed…a negative image in the mind of the person I was talking to. I said it was about me, but it really was about them. How terrible is that? I often think my life verse should be Proverbs 10:19, “Where words are many sin is not absent.” What about you?
Are there other ways we mask mean comments? What’s your “Bless their hearts”?