Never Met a Stranger

A friend up north commented after reading my last post: "I see that sharing thing happen here in the Midwest, but it seems to happen more often when people have something in common (maybe that is the barrier you see?)." She hit the nail on the head: the big difference *I* personally experience b/t regions is that people in the South openly & OFTEN spill our life stories & "private" personal business to *complete strangers* - like in (my favorite) the check-out line at the store, or while getting your oil changed. [Don't ever bother bringing a book or your laptop to the auto repair; you won't have time to crack it. You will be busy meeting James, who is actually a manager at the Walmart, which is great to know, b/c your friend just bought some garden stakes there that won't work in her yard, but Walmart wouldn't let her return them, so he can either explain why or help y'all out. You'll also add Lisa's husband, Ben, to your prayer list, b/c he's a long-haul driver for FedEx, and they are really trying to get him a local job, so he can be with the family more; they worry so much when he's out, and you'll get to hear all of the reasons why...and you'll end up having a much greater respect for those poor drivers! (Yes, this was my exact last oil change experience.)]

Another prime example:

The other day as I pulled out of a parking lot, an older man also pulling out rolled down his window. I rolled mine down, thinking he needed to tell me something might be wrong with my car; nope. We still had the MI tags on, and he just started chatting, "So you're from MI?"

"Oh, no sir. I'm from Charlotte. My husband got transferred up north for a bit, but it was too cold! I couldn't stand the winter, so we came home!"

"I was gonna ask how on earth you got here! My son lived in Charlotte for a long time. He did some concrete work and ended up working with some of those famous wrestlers."

[I actually knew *EXACTLY* what this old guy was talking about! My elementary school BFF, Sarah Jean, got a pool when we were little, and a bunch of the famous (80's) wrestlers helped install it. (Think Ric Flair.) They did that stuff as their side jobs! :-P See what I mean about random Southern connections?!]

"Oh, yes sir! That's great! Some of those same men helped install a pool for a friend of our family."

"They were some of the nicest people. One of them still gives 30% of everything he earns to this children's home. He is such a good Christian man."

[I can't imagine many people other places talking to complete strangers about random "good Christian men", can you? But it is honestly 100% normal to us. (More open Southern spirituality.) Up north, I think people would assume you were a religious freak or Tea Party fundamentalist to talk like this. Not here. It's a perfectly beautiful compliment that doesn't imply anything else, except that the describee has a heart of gold. I love it...]

"That is so good to hear!"

[Insert LITERALLY 5 more minutes of stories about these guys in Charlotte, through which I nodded & smiled. :-D] "So your husband is working here now?"

"Yes sir, he works for [insert company :-P] in Americus."

"Well, that is just great. I know [this person] and [that person] and their cousin who have worked there. And you're liking it here?"

"Oh yes sir! It's so nice to be back home where people stop & speak." [...just like this. :-D]

"Wonderful, wonderful! Now make sure to go on and get those tags changed soon. I bet the ladies in the Junior League [PS - I hadn't ONCE said a thing about JL; he totally assumed! :-D] will wonder, 'What on earth?' if you drive up like that!" [Insert laughs all around.]

"We are getting them changed as soon as we can! I hope you have a wonderful week!"

"You, too, now. Take care!"

And with that, we unblocked the parking lot we had cut off with our 10-minute impromptu convo, [no cars came; we were watching] and went on about our day.

This is not a rare thing in the South. *This* happens all. the. time. And I love it!!! It's one of the biggest things I missed. Of course precious people connect in other regions, but down here, there are really no strangers.

PPS - We *FINALLY* got those stinkin' tags changed!!! WOOHOO!


  1. I see you are Proudly Supporting the "Lee" portion of your tag ;P

  2. Yes Ma'am!!! :-D You *know* it! I am so glad to have that last one OFF!!! :-D

  3. I can understand what your saying about the North/South christian thing. I have thought about it and pondered on it. Although I miss the south for some of the reasons you mentioned on this post there is one good thing about northerners. If you say your a christian up north then more then likey you are one not just playing a part because that is part of the culture you grew up in. I know when I lived in AR a lot of people said that they were but I find it hard that there are no lost people. Here it is defiantly more of a mission field because people don't openly talk about their faith nor is accpeted as well as in the south. It is part of the culture down there for sure. The real question is if they move to all the other states or world would it be as real to them without others around them enouraging them. It was defiantly hard moving back to Oh after being in AR where everyone seems to have the same beliefs but God has used me here as well and that is a cool thing.I have meet some stong christian here that are serious about living it out. He is always changing us and teaching but I totally get what your saying and I am not sure still why it is so popluar to be a christian in the south but not so much in a few states away. I also met a lot of fake christian that played the part down there, that is a turn off but God meets people where they are at so I try not to judge and know that we were all once lost. I love your picture your family is beautiful! From Katie my google account is acting weirdo again.

  4. Katie - you are 100% right on your "playing the part" observation! There SO MANY faux "Christians" who totally don't walk the walk, either b/c they truly don't know any better b/c they've just blindly followed their family tradition of going to church purely out of social obligation, or b/c they just want to look good socially in the community, although their actions other than on Sunday mornings totally show their true colors. You are absolutely right there.
    ...But, I would honestly rather raise my kids in a place where faith is so open, with the trade-off of them witnessing those bad apples, than in a place where it's "weird" or *just not NORMAL* to be so open about what God is doing in our lives. I want the normalcy & openness of Southern Christian culture to grow deep in their hearts all around them, instead of just having it be something "only Mommy makes a big deal about." I love that his 1st grade & now his 2nd grade teachers go to our church, and that BOTH invited us to attend there. :-) His t-ball coach goes there, too, and it's just reassuring to feel that so many other adult authority figures in his life are on our same page, you know? Up north, it almost felt like you were asking someone their annual salary or how much they weigh, if you asked what church they attend (or if they go.) It's just too private, and that makes *me* very uncomfortable. [Again, of course, I'm making generalizations. We fell into 2 perfect, loving church communities in IL & MI that were very open & embracing...but outside of those church confines was a very different aura to me.]
    I wish I truly knew why it is so popluar to be a Christian in the South but not so much just a few states away, too! That is SUCH a fascinating sociological question!!!
    Keep being a strong witness up there! God really is using you to be such a beautiful influence in people's lives!!! :-)


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