There was a time, many years ago, when I started to worry when no one at work said, “God bless you” or “Bless you” after I sneezed. I noticed their lack of consideration towards me after hearing it said to others. After giving it more thought, I wondered why? “They don’t like you. You want to change the status quo, and they don’t want that,” I thought out loud. “You’re kidding, right?” I heard myself say back. As my thoughts continued, I got offended that they would use something like this to show their disapproval of the changes I wanted to make. Then I said to myself, “No, they didn’t hear my sneeze. Next time they’ll say it when they hear me.” While waiting on my next sneeze, which didn’t happen by the way, I heard a co-worker sneeze. And wouldn’t you know it? I heard just about everyone shout out, “God bless you”. I even said it myself-it’s customary for me to say it no matter what’s going on. I hold no animosity against anyone when they sneeze. “Ok,” I thought, “they heard him. I’ll pay more attention next time someone else sneezes.”
So I had this undercover “sneezing and its responses“ observation going on that no one else knew about. I paid attention to who sneezed and who responded with “God bless you” or “Bless you”. Then one day, I finally did it, right in everyone’s earshot. There was no mistake about it. They heard me. The room feel S I L E N T. I finally had the answer I was waiting for. But…it didn’t make sense.
I literally take those three words as sacred. Why would they not want me blessed, I thought. I would say it when I heard one of them sneezed. But, no! I got S I L E N C E. It stunned me. Shortly afterwards, I heard these liberating words speak to me, “Don’t rely on others. Say, ‘God Bless Me’ to yourself”. What a revelation that was. I don’t worry anymore if people hear me or not, and whether or not they say those words. After I sneeze, I just say “Excuse me” to them, and “God bless me” to myself. If someone tells me, “God bless you” or “Bless you” I politely say, “Thank You!” Whenever I say “God bless you” or “Bless you” to others, sometimes they say “Thank you!”, sometimes they don’t. No biggie!
I don’t know where the tradition came from (don’t want to research it right now). It is no longer a big deal for me. I guess that’s why I wasn’t offended when I heard the latest news report about a teacher banning his students from saying “God bless you” or “Bless you” in his class room. Others may take offense, but time is too short, and we as people of faith must learn what battles to pick, and how and when to fight, and win. A bigger concern is, what do we say to our children after their teacher takes a stand like this:
Video: Teacher bans students from saying “God bless you”:
Insight for change: Don’t take offense if you don’t hear others say “God bless you” or “Bless you” after you sneeze. Just say silently to yourself, “God Bless Me”.
What about you? Do you say, “God bless you” or “Bless you” out of courtesy and goodwill?
Photo credit: Image by D.Reichardt via Flickr
- Today’s news story…Teacher punishes students for saying Bless You. (pastormikesays.wordpress.com)
- A Teacher in California Docks Student Grades if they Say ‘God Bless You’ (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Teacher bans bless you for sneezing kids (theglobeandmail.com)
- “Bless You” Teacher Backs Down (fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com)