Okay, I was born and raised in the deep South. Once I open my mouth and speak, you know it. My southern drawl cannot be mistaken for any other accent in the English language. Many times, when people first meet me they ask the question, "Where are you from ... Georgia, Alabama, or South Carolina?" They seem to "luv" my accent. Or they say they do.

As a true southerner, I am known not only for my drawl, but also for colloquialisms that are uncommon to people in other areas of the country. For example, when one is telling me about a crisis in their life, I sometimes reply, "Oh my goodness." If I am I very angry or upset, I am "fit to be tied." If one asks for directions, I might say, "Oh, you know where that street is. It is 'over yonder' by the Big Chicken." For those of you who don't know ... the Big Chicken is a famous landmark in Marietta, Georgia.

As I grew older, I left the country. I became citified. However, as the saying goes, "You can take the girl out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the girl." So, many of my southern expressions remained in my vocabulary. It is my heritage, and, I thank God for it.

My daughter-in-law, Sarah, was exposed to one of my southern colloquialisms when she and our son ate lunch with us on New Year's Day. We had the traditional meal with black eyed peas and collard greens. When I asked her if she wanted some "pot likker," she had a puzzled look on her face. I had to explain the term.

My favorite southern expression is "bless your heart." I usually say this to someone who is going through a painful experience in their life. I say it out of genuine care and concern. However, many times I say it without thinking of the meaning. I say it out of habit. Sometimes, I even say it in a derogatory way. I make statements such as, "Bless your heart, you are having a difficult time getting it together today."

However, as I was meditating on God's Word this morning, I thought about the significance of the expression. The word bless means "to speak well of, to invoke blessings upon a person" (Vine's Expository Dictionary). How does this apply to me? God led me to Jesus' words: "Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you" (Luke 6:28). The Holy Spirit gently began to convict me. Suddenly, my worn expression became pregnant with meaning.

I thought about the significance of the expression.
God instructs me to speak well of others ... even if they curse me. And, I am to pray for them. Lord, this is a hard commandment. In the flesh, I know I cannot obey. I admit my helplessness. I relate to the apostle Paul. "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not" (Romans 7:18).

However, I am learning from experience that when I say, "I cannot ... God says, I can." Admitting my helplessness opens the door for His divine enablement. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

Oh Lord, bless those who have hurt me. Yes, bless them indeed. "Enable me never to repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this I was called so that I may inherit a blessing" (1 Peter 3:9).