Sunday, January 17, 2010

On Being Southern

I remember back in my College days in the late 60's early 70's that being Southern was not popular. Racism had marked our history and Southerners were often depicted as ignorant backwoods red necks. In my generation during the 60's and 70's it became popular to express what was considered to be a new kind of freedom. Those who did became known as hippies, grew their hair long, and 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.

Many of my college friends were from New Jersey, were great guys, and took me home with them one time. One of their fathers delighted in calling me 'Little Abner', the stereotypical Southern bumpkin. He congratulated himself for making such an astute and humorous observation. I was not amused. Over the years I noticed something about my northern 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 situated 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 where they were now living, that she was born and raised in the great state of South Carolina, and spoke that way all her life. She informed her imported friends, "I'm not the one with the accent. Y'all are!" That went over well.

Peter and most of the original 12 apostles were Galileans and spoke with an accent that the metropolitan Pharisee elitists despised. 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 because I was born in the Bible belt, never been a member of the KKK, do like grits and biscuits, like to go the beach in the summer, wear buttoned down collared shirts, khaki pants, and shoes without socks, but speak with a distinctly Southern accent, and have no thought of trying to change it. As for me and my house we are Southern and being Southern is cool, ...if you are Southern.

This brings me to the real point I want to make. 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 identified 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, -seeking their honor. Jesus said He did not receive honor from men and that those who do would not have functional faith (J0hn 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.


  1. Thank you for this post, Robin, especially for the last sentences. I totally understand what you are saying, maybe even more than I want to. I also consider myself as a normal guy, I mean I’m “not a racist, not backwoods, not a supporter of restoring the Confederate flag,” nice person with no poor behavior or boorish activity, loving people, loving God, but unfortunately all that doesn’t help me to build relationships with people of my church no matter how hard I try, because my problem is that I came from different background, from other country actually, and I speak with Russian accent. I’m not giving up, I know that God placed me into this environment for purpose, but sometimes desperation is all what I feel...

    Respectfully, Vitaliy

  2. I really enjoyed this article. I'm not from the south but have lived here a long time and have seen exactly what you've mentioned, especially in Charlotte and other big cities in the south. I think most people have some form of pride about where they are from. Most of it is harmless but sometimes it can make people put their whole identity in the place they were born. I am actually from another country and before I came to know the Lord I was very proud of my nationality and representing my culture and race. After a few years of walking in the Lord that was slowly stripped away. I saw that in the body of believers there was another family, another culture and race that was more heavenly than earthly. Today I walk my walk and want to be known not by where I am from, but by the one I serve and love.