How to Find Favor
By Pamela A. Bridgeman
He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue." (Proverbs 28:23 KJV)
My mama used to "whup" us; that is, administer corporal punishment. The most confounding thing of all is that she made us find a tree and bring back to her the "switch"--the instrument she was going to use to discipline us.
As she was tearing our behinds up, she'd say, "This hurts me more than it does you."
"Yea, right," I'd be thinking.
Another thing, that is so hilarious each time I think back on it, is that she would ask us, "Are you going to do it again?" Then, as we gulped for air and tried to respond through our breath-taking weeping, she would shout, "Shut up!"
Shut up? In other circumstances she considered that a very rude phrase. Still, the cycle would repeat--her laying the rod to our rear ends, asking us if we were going to do it again, and then shouting "Shut up."
Often tears would stream down her face as she was disciplining us. After I accepted Christ as my Savior, at nine years old, I understood Mama’s tears. She was praying for us, even as she was rebuking us. While praise and encouragement are needful and must be showered plentifully on children, Mama believed that timely, responsible rebuke--both in the words and in the "whupping"--would lead us to respect her, and to find favor in the ways of the Lord.
She was right. We all serve the Lord, and two of us are ordained ministers.
Mama’s cycle of rebuke would be repeated until, by some unknown criteria, she decided that we were sufficiently repentant. If, in her estimation, our contrition was genuine, she would then favor us with some treat, such as allowing us to go swing on the vines of the huge Muscadine tree out back. Or she would let us walk alongside her as she picked blueberries or blackberries to bake in the best fruit cobblers of Talladega County.
I remember one time, when I was about twelve years old, my mom, sisters and I were sitting at the dinner table eating, and I was being extremely picky. Mama finally said to me, "Eat your food; people are starving in Bangladesh."
I mouthed off rather haughtily, "Box it up and send it to Bangladesh then."
My mama blindsided me with a backhand that, even as I am writing this, I can still feel the sting. I hope you can see me laughing out loud as I write--so much that my side is splitting.
Bernice McKinney Bridgeman never offered any explanation for her righteous actions. So, needless to say, she didn't offer any explanation for that backhand. I didn't need one. It was one of those rebukes that led to favor. You see, today I volunteer as often as I can to feed the hungry. And one day? Well, one day I'm going to box up some food and personally take it to Bangladesh!
Words, so inadequate at times, often get in the way of clear expression. I know that Mama’s discipline sounds harsh when penned, and I know that her way is out of sync with contemporary thought about childrearing. But my mama was compassionate. Our small house was hospitality central. There were always children and teenagers sitting around our kitchen table, laughing at Mama’s somewhat dry humor, and drinking in her wisdom.
People in the community, from all walks of life, always sought her opinion on matters from preaching to politics. She was straightforward and honest, which sometimes meant a rebuke was forthcoming, because Mama believed the scripture that said, "In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery." (Proverbs 28:23 New Living Translation)
Pamela Bridgeman finds joy in helping others to know the love of Christ and experience the power of forgiveness and love. She is the author of "A Healing Journey" and you can visit Pamela on the Internet at http://www.ahealingjourneyseminars.com or write to her care of the Letters page of this magazine.