This week’s podcast interview is with Michelle, a dentist. Talking with her reminded me of a teaching session I attended recently at the Bishop’s training event, Shaped.
Rev Stephen Carnaby talked to us about going to the dentist. You can hear the talk here, and it’s really worth listening to because of how specific he is. He talks about having a black spot on his tooth for a while, and then how suddenly half his tooth fell off. OK, so it’s all a bit painful, but in a schadenfreude way it’s also hilarious!
Stephen says that after his tooth fell off, he started going to the dentist regularly (believe it or not) and the dentist asks him every time he goes, ‘Have you been using dental floss?’
We all know that question. I suggest that if you don’t know that question, you’re not going to the dentist regularly enough. If this is you, and you live in Southern Tasmania, let me know and I can put you in touch with Michelle. I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job on your teeth.
I’m also sure she’ll ask, ‘Have you been using dental floss?’
Flossing is something we all know we should do. But it’s time consuming, it’s sometimes painful, and it’s uncomfortable. And it’s difficult for us to see the benefits. We only find out if it’s been helpful when we take our annual trip to the dentist (or every ten years, depending on who you are).
But there are so many things like that. Even if we just look at our physical health there are many examples.
Exercise. I know it’s supposed to release feel-good endorphins. I don’t get that so much. I exercise in faith that it’s doing me some good. The results come much later.
Eating well. It’s much easier to eat junk food. It’s tasty, it gives you an immediate reward. But healthy food, well, you need to eat it for a while before you develop a taste for it, and the rewards come later.
Sleeping. You can stay up and binge-watch Netflix and get those constant dopamine shots in your brain, or you can go to bed. The first few times you get a solid eight-hours sleep you might feel dopey in the morning, or you might have trouble getting to sleep in the first place. But after a while you’ll start to feel the benefits. You’ll start to feel more rested, more energetic. But you have to put in the effort first.
Other difficult and uncomfortable things
Flossing-type activities are also helpful for our spiritual and mental health.
Stephen talks about reading the Bible. How it is so useful and helpful to us, but only if we take the time to do it.
I have been reading about prayer, and again, if you put time aside and actually do the praying, it is beneficial. You can do it once every now and then (like flossing on the day of your dentist appointment) and it will be of some benefit. But if you pray daily, put time aside, invest in prayer times, it will be of much more benefit.
If you are not a Christian, this principle still applies to you. Taking the time to read good books, to think about the larger issues, to spend some time in silence and solitude, these things are beneficial. Especially if practiced regularly.
These are not easy things to do. They are uncomfortable. They are time consuming. They can even be painful at times. But I think that the benefits are huge if we make the effort, take the time, do the flossing.
How am I doing in all this? Well, I am nowhere near perfect here. But I am reading the Bible more each day, and taking more than five minutes to pray. I’m making an effort to go for a daily walk and listening to an audio book while I do that. I’m menu-planning a bit more so that we buy takeaway a bit less.
And you’ll be pleased to know that in preparation for this blog post, I flossed my teeth this morning. Did you?
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