I love the sayings we have in the south. We have so many creative ways of getting our point across (some may say passive-aggressive but that’s beside the point…) For example, when we were in Alabama Lindsay and I learned that when it is sunny outside and starts to rain, people would say, “The devil is beatin’ his wife” (to get the full impact, you need to imagine all of this said with a real southern twang, a deeply southern draw). Then when someone asks you how you are doing, you can’t just say you are “good” or “all right,” you have to say something like, “I’m finer than a frog hair split four ways.” Or if you get really upset you might say something like, “O! That makes me madder than a wet hen!” Now I have never personally seen a wet hen, but having seen someone madder than one, I know they must be pretty bad!
The one that most southern women, sorry for the stereotype, have used at least 500,000 times in their life is “O, Bless your heart” which covers a multitude of sins.
Every region has their own sayings but the south really does a good job with some of ours. Lindsay and I were in the car the other day when I shared another saying that I don’t think is particularly southern, maybe the south just uses them more. I heard this one throughout my life growing up, especially when it came to yard work. I might be out in the yard trying to finish whatever job my dad had given me and I was trying to finish it quickly, so I might take a shortcut. I would try to just sort of change it cosmetically; just make it look all right so I could head off to play with my friends. My dad always caught me and always had some saying for what I was doing wrong. If I wasn’t fixing the actual problem, just changing the way it looked he might say, “Cole, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”
Joel 2:12-13 says, “Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your hearts, with fasting, with weeping, and with sorrow; tear your hearts and not your clothing” (emphasis is mine). I think that if Joel was a southerner, he might have used a southern sayin’ in our passage from today. Joel might have said, “people, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. You can act like you are changing but if you don’t make a real change in your heart, it isn’t enough, you are missing the point.”
Cosmetic change during the season of lent isn’t enough. Joel tells us to “tear our hearts,” or another version says, “Rend your hearts.”
Like the people of Israel, it is all too easy to come to this season of Lent and simply go through the motions without making any real change in our heart. It would be all too simple to put lipstick on the pig without making substantial changes.
This season of Lent, we come to God with weeping, fasting, tearing our hearts before God in the Holy hope of what comes at Easter. Don’t just “put lipstick on a pig” and go through the motions of Lent; truly see where God might be inviting you to change.