On Being Southern

(Some people re-tweet. I re-blog... my own blogs. I want to dedicate this re-blog to J.D. Swilley. He reminded me of how great it is to have a Southern heritage, and I like people who's first name is initials!) I remember back in my College days in the late 60's early 70's that being Southern was not popular. Racism marked our history and Southerners were often depicted as ignorant backwoods red necks. Many of my peers rebelled against the norm trying to find inner freedom and meaning in life. Those who did became known as hippies, grew their hair long, did drugs and tried to talk differently. I did some of that myself. It was considered hip. Many of my college friends even began speaking with a Northern affectation, as though that made them more intelligent, more sophisticated. Being Southern was not cool.

Some of my closest college friends were from New Jersey, were great guys, and took me home with them one time. Sorensen's father delighted in calling me 'Little Abner', the stereotypical Southern bumpkin who wore blue jean overalls and had straw sticking out of his mouth. I never had straw sticking out of my mouth. He congratulated himself for making such an astute yet humorous observation. I was not amused. However, over the years I noticed something about my northern college friends. Almost none of them moved back home after graduation. They liked it too much down here. Makes you wonder...don't it!

A number of years ago my mom and dad moved from Charlotte, NC into a retirement golf community on Lake Wylie, across the border in South Carolina. When some of the residents transplanted from places like New York, Chicago, and other parts up north, questioned her very Southern drawl she reminded them of where they were now living. She was born and raised in the great state of South Carolina, and spoke that way all her life.  "I'm not the one with the accent. Y'all are!", she informed her imported friends. That went over well.

Peter and most of the original 12 apostles were Galileans and spoke with an accent. The  metropolitan Pharisee elitists despised them. Interestingly enough, to the Jerusalem crowd the Galileans were Northern redneck fishermen. Even a servant girl could identify Peter as one of Jesus' followers because of his accent: ..."And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, "Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it (Mark 14:70)." Every generation faces the same issues. How will you estimate the worth of a person and will you live a genuine life.

I am not a racist, not backwoods, not a supporter of restoring the Confederate flag, not a Christian only because I was born in the Bible belt, never been a member of the KKK, do like grits and biscuits, like to go to the beach in the summer, wear buttoned down collared shirts and Polo shirts but don't play polo, khaki pants, and shoes without socks, but speak with a distinctly Southern accent, and have no thought of changing it. As for me and my house -we are Southern and being Southern is cool, ...if in fact that's what you are.

This brings me to my real point. It is essential for each of us to discover who we are and to live authentic lives. Now, no one should defend poor behavior or boorish activity and claim that it is part of living authentically. Bad manners should be acknowledged for what it is, disrespect and poor breeding. But, affectations adapted for fear of being criticized and changing who we are to please people is a fruitless endeavor. It is living to men. At its core, it is seeking their honor. It is important to give honor, It is foolish to seek it from men. Jesus said He did not receive honor from men and that those who do would not have functional faith (see John 5:41-44). He sought honor from His Father and His Father honored Him, with the ability to help, heal, deliver, and transform people's lives. We need to do the same.

Enjoy who you are, where you come from, and who God has uniquely made you. It is one of the fundamental keys to power.