One of the reasons I love the southeastern United States is the plethora of colorful sayings. Sayings like:
- He’s grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ a sweet tater.
- I’ll jerk a knot in your tail!
- She’s as lost as last year’s Easter egg.
- Act like you got some raisin’!
If you understand what’s being said, often the meaning can’t be much clearer. One of my favorites is quite simply the command, “Stop being ugly.”
And we aren’t talking about your looks.
Stop Being Ugly, Translation
Kindness and politeness are not overrated at all. They’re underused. ~
Understanding this phrase isn’t that difficult, particularly when compared to defining haints or exactly how far yonder is. Dictionary.com says the basic meaning of the word ugly is very unattractive or unpleasant to look at; offensive to the sense of beauty; displeasing in appearance.
But other definitions hint at what southerners refer to.
- disagreeable; unpleasant; objectionable.
- morally revolting
- mean; hostile; quarrelsome
When southerners tell others to stop being ugly, they are calling out an action, behavior, or attitude. And we can all think of ugly actions and attitudes over the past few months with all that’s been going with Covid-19 and the election.
And during the last three months of the year, the ugliness tends to continue.
The most wonderful time of the year.
Halloween just passed. Thanksgiving is this week. Christmas and New Year’s are just a few days away. And what is in some of your hearts and all over your social media feed?
Posts that boil down to one person telling another what absolutely should or should not be done. Not sure what I’m talking about? Let me list out a few of the negative attitudes I see during this time of year:
- participating in Halloween, whether it’s by decorating, dressing up, or handing out candy;
- decorating for Christmas, listening to Christmas music or being excited about the December season before Thanksgiving;
- including a tree or Santa or elves in your holiday decor and traditions.
For the record, the last time I looked at the Gospel, none of those were on the essential beliefs checklist.
In fact, last time I considered the New Testament, God said that His family would be known by their love. Their love. Where is the love in getting snotty with someone who decorates for Christmas in November? Or in telling someone that they shouldn’t participate in something that has pagan origins?
Y’all, we’re 2,000 years removed from the cross and roughly 4,000 years removed from our father Abraham, who by the way was pagan. I suspect all of our traditions are tainted. Can we just stop?
But I just want to make sure . . .
Yeah, I know. Some of you want to educate the rest of us, and some of you don’t realize you’re being ugly in the process. But you are.
Stop and think for a moment: Let’s say we disagree about something, and let’s make it simple like choosing tea or coffee with breakfast. How could you best convince me that your choice is better, or maybe even best?
By yelling at me? Nope. By telling me what an idiot I am to ignore all the evidence and not agree with your preference? Not even a little bit. By going on ad naseum about the benefits of your choice and the weaknesses of mine? Not going to happen.
Quite honestly, the best way for you to have a chance of convincing me that your choice is the best is by simply living your own life well and allowing me to be curious. By discussing–not debating–our choices in appropriate times and places. By you being willing to listen to my perspective, preferences, and experiences, which may or may not agree with yours. By allowing me to be different from you.
And the Bible Says: Stop Being Ugly. Sorta.
Okay, the Bible doesn’t talk at all about the ongoing debate between coffee and tea. But, in the first verse of Romans 14, Paul writes a simple command that we can apply to the concept.
Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.
Don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. That seems easy on the surface, but let’s think back over the last few months. How many arguments have you participated in (or started) over what you thought was right or wrong?
- Face masks? Number of people invited to gatherings? The rightness or wrongness of closing down?
- Who is the best choice for . . . President? Congressman? Governor? etc.
- Celebrating Halloween?
- How to best celebrate Thanksgiving this year?
- When to decorate for Christmas?
I can already hear some of you wanting to argue with me. But the science says . . . or, the candidate said . . . or, if you do some research . . . Stop, y’all. Just stop.
The research queen.
Look, I love research, knowledge, and learning from those who know more than I do. I can’t get enough. I’m one of those crazy people who actually read chunks of research rather than merely the accepting what some reporter says.
But we must remember that facts can change when scientists learn more. And reporting agencies of all kinds are biased based upon what they believe and want you to act upon. And not only can none of us know it all, no organization, corporation, or government agency can tell us the full spectrum of anything that might affect our decisions.
In other words, you don’t know everything, which means you don’t know the full picture. You can’t. I can’t. None of us can. We can only look at what we have before us in this moment, pray for wisdom, and make the best decision for ourselves and our family accordingly.
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. ~
So stop being ugly. Look critically at your social media posts and communications with others, asking yourself if it’s true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8).
Remember who you are and why you are here. Are you focused more on yourself or more on the people God would like you affect today? Enjoy the people you love. Love the people around you. And don’t argue with them over what they think is right or wrong.
What do you do when life throws an ugly curveball at you, a chronic illness that threatens the life of your child? That’s precisely what faced Jeff an Kumi Etheridge when their first daughter was born. And their story is inspiring.
Jeff Etheridge leaves the U.S. Navy to marry Kumi and attend seminary. Finances are tight, so he joins the Reserves to add needed income and finds a job that works around school hours. He and Kumi rejoice as the birth of their first child approaches, but their world crashes around them with Mika’s first breath. Doctors fight to give their daughter life while Jeff and Kumi pray for God’s healing provision. Life settles into a routine despite Mika’s chronic conditions, and God continues to add blessings around them.
But God whispers about returning to life in the Navy.
Jeff thinks it’s a ridiculous idea as he doesn’t want to leave his family, but for the first time in her life, Kumi believes it’s the right choice. Desperate for Chaplains, the Navy processes Jeff back into active service. As the family settles in at their first duty station, terrorists attack U.S. soil.
Could God bring them peace and contentment even in the midst of the uncertainty surrounding them?