“The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.” ~ James Madison

“Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.” ~Steve Maraboli

Originally posted on Facebook—October, 2008

The other morning, I went to a nearby Kroger for the essentials: Cheese, eggs, meat, water, sugar, etc. As I was checking out at the register, the cashier wished me well with the words, “bless you.” She was an elderly black woman, with an easy smile and relaxed demeanor. I pleasantly responded “you too.”

One could tell at a glance that this cashier was at peace with herself. During the five minutes I waited at check out, she had a conversation with the customer ahead of me in line about her husband, and how she hadn’t seen her at the store for a while. As I was leaving, an officer walked into the store and the kind, old woman called out to the local authority, “I don’t normally see you so early, friend.”

This was not the first time I had seen this particular cashier. Given Kroger’s proximity to the house, I frequent the store on a semi-regular basis. And the woman that I encountered at the register during those visits was the same that rang my purchase the other day. She has been as consistent as death and taxes; always pleasant, concluding each conversation with a loving “bless you.”

While this may be considered a simple recollection of a minor event within a necessary, mundane routine—we all need to procure food and supplies for sustenance, no?—every time this gentle woman has concluded my shopping transaction with “bless you,” it has nipped at my senses. Given my past experience in the hospitality industry and current experience in retail, it leaves me confounded as to how her employer has allowed her to say “bless you,” rather than “thank you, please come again” or some other ritual, send-off saying.

It is not that difficult for me to envision her at some point having been sent to her manager’s office, and enduring a conversation about the appropriate manner in which she is expected to address customers in a place of business. I suspect that our heroine, the caring cashier—we’ll call her Carrie (yeah, you all like that play on words) — originally said, “God bless you” to her customers. How easy it is to see her manager, more concerned about political correctness, telling my beloved Care, “We must not allude to God in the workplace.”

It should make us all wonder how our world came to be as it is now. We are a society afraid to speak of God to strangers. My father—who ironically has his own difficulties speaking of God—often has blamed the removal of prayer from public schools for what he views as our nation’s downward, moral spiral. He may be right…

…As stated in Newton’s first law of motion, “an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” Since atheist Madalyn Murry O’Hair initially brought the issue to the Supreme Court in 1963, the conversation has been ongoing. The organized action of prayer in public schools, however, has come to a stand-still as the result of the conversation’s friction.

Without public acceptance of religious discourse, the home has become the sole impetus for advocating God in the life of youth. And in making it unacceptable for the state to promote organized prayer, actually made a decision counter-supportive for faith. In making its decision, the state unwittingly established the perception that prayer is inappropriate. It is not difficult to envision how, in the minds of impressionable youth, such state-based actions could be construed as admonishing prayer. By not allowing such prayer, would it not communicate to children that prayer is wrong? And by extension, would that not allude to the fallacy of possessing a loving relationship with God; or, for that matter, the existence of God? Rather than consider such thought as biased conjecture, there is evidence that the projection of such a societal evolution is here now; the existing culture.

Presently, there is an expansive void of understanding between those in active relationship with God and those without. Those who have never been formally introduced to their Lord, have filled His perceived absence with false idols. Whether it be money, greed, lust, safety, or a custom-order God—you know, the kind of God that only does what you want, rather than you doing what He wants— they allow the devil to skew their views contrary to Truth. And when unaccepting of Truth, what is more threatening than Truth itself?

The anticipated conflict leads to the hesitation and reluctance of culture to speak freely of God. Too often, the first question people ask when God is mentioned is, “To which God are you speaking?” Given the acceptance and/or tolerance of false idols in our culture, the first challenge is leading people to know the one, true God.

What is most incredulous about this whole issue is how “the separation of church and state,” originally intended by our nation’s forefathers to encourage the practice of various religions, now encourages people to have no religion. Do my words come across too harsh? Maybe, but is it not the equivalent of religious apartheid? Does God only exist in the household? Does He only command places of worship?

According to my limited understanding of God, He is the ultimate authority. All other authority is subordinate and accountable to Him. Therefore, how can we separate Him completely from our governance? From our country’s early doctrine, many of our forefathers believed in a supreme being. I may even be as bold to say, given their various Christian backgrounds, that they believed in the same God. What I believe they sought to secure for the generations to come with the language “separation of church and state” is the ability to worship that one God as one sees appropriate. It would not be the government that would judge the faith of any one person, leaving that to our Lord…

…but now we have done something worse than not knowing God at all. Many of us know God, but fail to worship him in the everyday practice of our lives! What sent a shiver down my spine when my friendly cashier wished me well with “Bless You” was nothing more than guilt.

I felt the guilt of succumbing to the pressure of a backwards culture. While I will be bold in the Lord at work, it is not consistent. For that matter, it is rarely bold. Typically, I catch myself speaking of God when I am aware such talk will be well-received by the audience. Not that we should force God on those not ready to accept Him, but we should never hesitate to give credit for everything we have to our Lord. Additionally, why not bless others? I could use more blessings…

…but we are afraid of a negative response. The persecution that is promised to those who accept and follow Christ is still available to those who accept His path. Sadly, it is created by those who are afraid to follow and it has been encouraged by numerous Christians that do not challenge the fearful with love…

So, today, I say to you, “God bless you!”

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One thought on “Bless You

  1. Great post and much gratitude towards all those over the years who have snuck in a “God bless you.” The awesome power of a kind word, a simple reminder of God’s presence, should never be underestimated. You can literally change somebody’s path, brighten their day, change their entire perspective on their circumstances. God has always tossed a kind person in my path, somebody armed with a gentle “God bless you,” right when I’ve needed it most. I don’t exaggerate when I say my life would have been very different without them.

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