“You pea-brain!”

Insult?  Well, that depends on what culture you come from!  I was explaining the analogy of a pea-brain to an Asian friend who kept looking at me, bewildered, waiting for the punch-line.

“It’s an insult,” I said.  Aware that my audience was not catching on, I added, “It’s like saying your brain is the size of a pea.  That’s insulting!”

“Why?” he asked.

“Well, because a pea is so tiny, and if your brain is the size of a pea, that means your brain is tiny!”

“Yes,” said he, “but even though a pea is tiny, it has lots of benefits!  It is healthy and gives so much nutrition even though it is so small.  I thought you’d say it was a compliment!”

I hope it doesn’t happen, but if you ever do get the urge to call someone a pea-brain, stop and consider: you might be paying them a compliment!  Be careful though, the opposite can prove true as well.  If you want to compliment someone from another culture, be sure you aren’t insulting them!

“You’re fat!”

That’s a compliment, or at least a benign observation, on the island where we live.  We as Westerners feel that calling someone fat is an insult.  But that’s not how folks here feel!

Now this is a little extreme, but just hang with me to the end of this post.  Think about it:  calling someone a “pea-brain” or “fat” where I live is not actually anything but a simple compliment!  Now I’m from Texas and I have a pretty good idea what would happen if someone dished out that comment while standing in line at the grocery store!  You can imagine what would happen in your own neck-of-the-woods.

If culture and words and emotions are so tightly intertwined, I need to be very careful to share Jesus’ love with others in a way that they can understand and receive it.  I thank the Lord for HIS LOVE, that transcends language and culture, enveloping our emotions and chasing away our fears!  I also thank the Lord for HIS GRACE that fills in the gaps in our words and actions as His Holy Spirit draws people to Himself!

And the next time someone makes you feel like a “pea-brained fatty,” just think, that’s a compliment in some cultures! 🙂



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