Try to Understand, Y’all

20 Apr
Harvest the Wheat

Harvest the "Wheat"

A friend of mine (Dawn’s) on Facebook recently wrote, “I’d  put on shorts, but must ‘harvest the wheat’ first.”

Turns out this funny lady was talking about shaving her legs after a long winter of wearing slacks, so she could wear some springtime shorts! I had no clue.

This reminds me of when I, a Northerner married to a Southern Californian, moved with him to Georgia. Talk about not understanding a culture!

Here are some of the Southern sayings that originally puzzled me … but I grew to love:

  • “It’s so dry, the trees are bribing the dogs.”
  • “She’s as country as Cornflakes.”
  • “This is gooder than grits.”
  • “Butter my booty and call me a biscuit.”

I also “learnt” some new grammar! Like, “Y’all” is singular; “All Y’all” is plural; and “All y’all’s” is plural possessive. My “Hey, you guys, how’zit goin’?” was a dead giveaway that I was from North of the Mason-Dixon Line. I can’t tell you how many sentences in the South contain the words “big ol” or “Fixin’ to.” And the best complement I received was “Y’all are too sweet!” Sweet is a key word in the South. Think “Sweet Tea.”

For a long time I worried, as a Pastor’s wife in the South, because I couldn’t understand anyone. Then it dawned on me that they couldn’t understand me either! When I spoke of “de-thawing in South Bend, Indiana,” they thought I meant meat from the freezer. I mentioned a “Michigan Left,” and they didn’t understand. When I mentioned “the Plant,” they envisioned a garden; and in a conversation about “the Thumb,” they pictured a glove.

(Translations: De-thawing is what you do to a car; a Michigan Left is making a right turn followed immediately by a u-turn at the next crossover; the Plant is a factory; and the Thumb is the thumb-shaped part of Michigan’s lower peninsula “mitten.”)

There’s lots of room for misunderstandings in our big wide United States, let alone between countries! But face it, there’s a lot of misunderstandings between husbands and wives, too, because they often don’t speak the same language. Bill and Pam Farrel have made fun science of this in their best-seller, Men Are Like Waffles ~ Women Are Like Spaghetti. Their goal is to help couples understand and even delight in their differences, and I recommend the book.

I love this section from their chapter on communication:

A couple came to a counselor because they were on the brink of divorce. The counselor asked  the wife, “Does your husband beat you up?” She answered, “No, I beat him up by several answers every morning.”

Then the counselor asked the husband, “Do you have a grudge?” The husband responded, “no, we have a carport.”

The counselor, getting a little exasperated, asked the couple, “What grounds do you have for your problems?” The wife answered, “We have about four acres.”

Finally, the counselor said, “Why did you come in here today?” Together they said, “We can’t seem to communicate!” *

“Men and women have very different approaches to communication,” the Farrels Waffles&SpaghettiCoverwrite. So they write about the importance of taking turns in conversation, listening, seeking to understand the other person’s perspective, patience, allowing for differences, the power of encouragement, and other helpful communication advice. (By the way, some “marriage advice” works for any relationship.)

The Bible offers some principles to avoid misunderstandings. Here are just a few:

So, when you are fixin’ to mess up in your relationships, “Be sweet, y’all” and look to God for help. His wisdom is much, much “gooder than grits!”

* Men Are Like Waffles~Women Are Like Spaghetti by Bill and  Pam Farrel, (Harvest House Publishers, 2001), pp. 27-28

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