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Saturday, October 13, 2012

TO SWEET OR NOT TOO SWEET

God had to use a Thor-sized hammer to get this insight through to me.

Perhaps a hammer is the wrong image. It wasn't a single blow, more of 58 years of living finally spilling over the dam of my mind.

People consider me sweet. They call my books sweet. And for some reason, the characterization bothers me.

Perhaps I am too literal minded.  I love "sweets," desserts of all kinds. When people say too much frosting makes a cake too sweet, I laugh. I LOVE the corner pieces with frosting on two sides as well as big flowers on top. I love to fill every hole of a waffle with syrup. The more sugar the better.

There are books like that, with so much sweetness and light that the layers of plot disappear under the heavy frosting.  I guess my mind equates a "sweet" story with those that are "syrupy" and "saccharine."

So I did what I often do when stumped by the nuances of meaning of a word: I looked it up in an online dictionary. I discovered that in addition to defintions for "sweet," there are also meanings given for "sweet person." Aha!  Just what I needed.

I found the first definitions on one of those answer sites.  Six years ago, someone else was struggling with this same question.  Someone else asked how to become a sweet person. Hmm, so I'm not the first person to ask what on earth does that mean?

One answer includes the downside, the reason I don't like being called sweet: someone who is sweet is easily manageable, who doesn't know how to stand up for herself. With my background of abuse, I refuse to accept that description.  I also don't like to be called "soft spoken."

Other people gave lists of things sweet people don't do: wouldn't hurt a fly (or even think of hurting a fly); doesn't pass judgment or condemn; doesn't gossip or talk about people behind their backs; doesn't fight, threaten or intimidate.  I actually have done a lot of those things. That explains why I don't see myself as sweet. I know all the bad things I still do.

The award for a humorous definition goes to the person who said a sweet person must be good-looking!

At last! The positive attributes that I can admit to: caring, genuine, thoughtful, compassionate, sympathetic.

This one makes me smile: "To become a sweet person requires inner strength. That is what we must first have in whatever situation, which can then help you to help others and achieve whatever you wish to achieve. You should have firm belief and optimism."

My favorite defintion says, "Someone with a big heart. Not someone to be run over, but simply someone who cares, and who is open to other caring persons."

My prayer is that whatever sweetness I possess goes beyond that.

I want to be open to people who don't return the favor, without becoming a doormat. I want to  love them as Christ loves me. Unconditionally.


**For a chance to win one of my books, please leave a comment that answers the following question: How to people characterize you and/or how do you feel about it? There must be at least five answers to give away a book, and there are one book given away for every five comments.**

13 comments:

Martha A. said...

I have been told I was sweet, soft spoken and basically soft....but I was told yesterday...."Do you know that your outward appearance is so different than who you really are?" They meant it in a good way!! It is weird, but I don't mind being soft spoken....just as long as my 4 sons don't think that I am! = )
By the way, I got a couple of your books and read them and really enjoyed them!
martha(at)lclink(dot)com

Cathy Richmond said...

Yes, I think you're right, Darlene. Men looking for a sweet woman, look for someone who won't object to anything they do. He wants to spend the mortgage money on a new Harley - she smiles. He wants to spend every night at the bar - she smiles. He wants to head to Mexico with his guy friends - she smiles. That's not a relationship. He's no hero and she's a doormat.
I don't want to be sweet either.

Anonymous said...

unkssu 75orsol 2Hi Darlene,

I've often debated if 'sweet' is a compliment or a curse, too. When applied to my seven year-old granddaughter, it works great. With me, not so much!

Thanks for your thoughts on the topic.

Reading about your success encourages me --

gail Kittleson

gkittleson AT myomnitel.com

Darlene Franklin said...

Oh, I love what each one of you shared! Martha, I was voted "quietest person" in my high school class (I was also the valedictorian). I still go long periods of time without talking much. I'm a hermit writer, after all! Cathy, it sounds like you've known of some bad experiences . . . that must be painful. Gail, I'm glad I encourage you! And I agree, those granddaughters are always sweet--at least to their grandmothers.

Dana Wilkerson Spille said...

I have been called stubborn by some only because I won't go along with what they want me to do , the way they want me to think or when I won't believe what the way they want me to ..The meaning of the word stubborn " means that you set your own way." If I was stubborn I would not keep doing what God wants when I don't want to ,say what He wants when I really want to say something else and even go places He wants when I would rather go where I want .I have learned along long time ago I have to die to self and do as He ask me . Thanks for the chance to win ,Dana "Girl " .jashbk@earthlink.net

Darlene Franklin said...

Dana, good points on stubborness!

Ane Mulligan said...

Bingo! A big heart and able to love ... so like Jesus! I think if Jesus shines through us, we're probably seen as sweet. Some folks probably don't quite know how to describe it, either. So sweet to them works. :)

But I see you as a strong person having a big heart.

Darlene Franklin said...

Good points, Ane. Several of the definitions included being Christian as part of being sweet. :) Another word for salt and light?

Gloria Clover said...

The one I struggle with hearing in relation to myself is "passionate." But it's usually said in the "you scare people with your passion for" stick in the topic.
Hearing myself as sweet, kind of sounds like that would be sweet. :-)

Darlene Franklin said...

Gloria, that's a good one! I don't like being seen as powerless. . . but I wouldn't want to be scary either.

Darlene Franklin said...

Here is the clue! Our weaknesses are often our strengths taken to extreme. If I become so concerned for other people that I let them dictate my convictions and my behavior, I have gone too far.

Donna said...

I had to chuckle with the comment about so sweet she wouldn't hurt a fly. One of my favorite images from the movie, "Psycho" is the ending where the hotel owner/murderer/crazy person is dressed as his mother is sitting in an interrogation room waiting. A fly is buzzing around his/her head and he is saying, "I'll ignore it and they'll think I wouldn't hurt a fly." I'm not sure what the takeaway is - perhaps that if we ignore irritants we can go completely bonkers and murderously ill or that none of us are all one thing or the other ...

Darlene Franklin said...

Donna,I love the comment about Psycho! When sweetness turns into weakness, we become . . . well, crazy!