Growing up in the south and as a teacher’s kid, I heard “bless her heart” more times than I can remember. I have also used it many times. It is the southern woman’s way of turning an ugly conversation around to make even the meanest things we say about people seem okay and even sweet (like sweet tea, correctly pronounced “swayt tay”). If you add “bless her heart” (or his heart) at the end of something ugly you say about someone, it makes you appear to really care about that person. You might say something like, “She doesn’t know if she is coming or going…bless her heart” or “He does not even have a clue…bless his heart”. You just want their hearts to be blessed, right? I’m pretty sure saying “bless her heart” has nothing to do with sincere blessings. Justifying our words with a “blessing” only highlights our pride. What if you are just joking? I can see how saying “bless her heart” could be used jokinginly among friends, but most of the time it’s an excuse to be condescending.
But, what if you don’t say “bless her heart”? You aren’t from the south. This doesn’t really apply to you. You know what usually happens as I read an article or listen to a speech and begin thinking over and over that it doesn’t really apply to me? I begin to realize it does, at least in some way. So blessing people’s hearts isn’t your thing. Have you ever said “I know I shouldn’t say this but…”? How about “I don’t think she wants anyone to know this, but…”? What about “I’m not one to gossip, but…”? Any of these sound familiar? Our words have more power than we can ever imagine. The impact could be decades long. Instead of saying it, bless someone’s heart in their presence with a word of encouragement. Watch their face light up.
In Proverbs 18:21 we are reminded of how powerful our words truly are.
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”