Southernisms are defined as, pronunciations, expressions, or behavioral traits characteristic of the southern United States. For me, as both a southerner and a therapist, a true southernism captures truth. It can preach an entire sermon, or it can share a volume of information in a single sentence.
As someone who grew up hearing southernisms used with laser precision by my parents and grandparents to pinpoint truths related to common sense and wisdom, I am an avid collector of these poignant truths. Whenever I hear a new one, I immediately begin to mull it over like a rock in a polishing tumbler, until the nugget of truth shines brightly in my mind. And then, like a beautiful polished stone, I show it off by applying it to any and every fitting scenario until it becomes part of my internal dictionary.
Such is the impetus to record my latest gem in this blog:
“What’s down in the well, always comes up in the bucket.”
This saying immediately made me think of one of my constant struggles: guarding the words that come out of my mouth. This notion fits perfectly with the cognitive behavioral cycle, which portends that “thoughts create feelings, and feelings manifest in behavior.” The Bible also has a lot to say about this. “As a man (or woman) thinks in their heart, so is he (or she).” Proverbs 23:7
And there is the even deeper issue of watching the thoughts on which I allow myself to ruminate deep in the well. I believe that God created all of me. But God doesn’t create all of the thoughts I have. I do that as a result of my own humanity. King David knew this same battle all too well, and is often a model for me when I really stick my foot in my mouth. In Psalm 51:10, he wrote the same essence so beautifully captured in this particular Southernism: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in me.”
As we struggle with external relationships and internal anxiety or depression, let’s remember that our bucket can only bring up what our internal source creates. Then, what pours out of our mouth will be refreshing and speak life, rather than being bitter and wounding. This will allow us to live out Proverbs 27:19, “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart,” and we can be a bucket of blessing wherever we go.