by Elaine Colsten
Hammond, IN

Grandma Habegger said to me when I was a junior higher, as I primped in front of the full-length mirror in the front room, “Elaine, if you cared as much about the inside as you seem to care about the outside, you’d be a very lovely girl!” Her words were never forgotten!

Mother Haberger said to me every time I left the house—for school, for work, for church activities, or for piano (or voice or organ) lessons, “Keep sweet!” (She probably should have said, “Get sweet,” some of the time.)

A sweet spirit, a good attitude, a positive outlook and a pleasant demeanor are certainly to be desired among us gals, whether we are elementary school girls, teens, collegiates, young married ladies, middle-aged women or senior citizens. Mother’s admonition was good: “Keep sweet.” However, sometimes we work at getting sweet, but we overlook some other necessary areas.

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1. Being sweet is not a substitute for cleanliness. Sweetness does not cover up body odor, runs in hosiery, a slip hanging, an unkempt hairdo, or unpolished shoes! True, some females are beautifully groomed, but have rotten attitudes; that does not excuse us from being clean, neat, properly fragrant and attractively dressed.

2. Being sweet is not a substitute for character. College gals, sweetness cannot make up for being late to class, over-absencing, not turning in passes on time, etc. Employees, sweetness does not nullify your lack of character when you are continually chatting while you’re being paid to WORK! Wives, you may appear sweet to everyone you meet, but are you faithful to your husband? Lady, do you pay your bills on time, return borrowed items promptly, and prepare well for every responsibility?

3. Being sweet is not a substitute for convictions. Sweetness cannot substitute for short skirts, tight skirts that reveal bikini panty lines, blouses that reveal undergarments, hair and makeup styles that look worldly, etc. Keeping sweet is not a replacement for keeping modest, looking feminine, and avoiding any manly appearance.

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4. Being sweet is not a substitute for competence. Sweetness never makes up for a lack of preparation and study, a shirking of obeying the rules, work poorly done, wrong answers, inefficiency and instability. It matters not how sweet and gracious the secretary at the Christian school is if she cannot keep the records straight when it comes to academics, payments, merit records and demerit lists. Truly, competence is more to be desired than smiles! The wife who can never find the needed receipt, the car keys, the relatives’ addresses or her husband’s favorite socks in not readily a rejoicing companion, though she is the wife of his youth.

5. Being sweet is not a substitute for compassion. Sweetness cannot take the place of buying a coat for a cold child, preparing food for a bereaved family, or giving a couple of your own skirts to a bus girl who promised God she wouldn’t wear trousers.

Now that we realize sweetness cannot ever take the place of cleanliness, character, convictions, competence or compassion, how then do we “get sweet”? We will find out next week!