Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Spiritual Discipline of Toothbrushing?

We've just returned from a morning-long trip to the dentist.  I am trying so hard to just give thanks for having dental insurance, a good dentist, and three out of five of us with no cavities.  But...

But it's only three out of five.  My entire life I have struggled with poor dental hygiene.  It is certainly a sin-area for me.  I dread going to the dentist because I know that I'm going to be scolded for the condition of my teeth and gums.  For several years I just refused to go.  No one likes to see the fruit of their sin scraped onto a sterile pad.  But then my sweet children came along with their perfect start-from-scratch teeth and I knew that for their sakes it was time to clean up my act.  Or at least my teeth.  Last year I spent more time and money at the dentist's office than I even want to admit to, but I felt like I had made a life change.  Brushing my teeth as worship unto the Lord!

Today, at the office, I knew that I had slipped in the past month.  I dreaded going.  I feared the worst.  As it turned out, I didn't even know what the worst could be.  My teeth are fine.  No cavities.  (Insert a weak, I-don't-deserve-it "Praise the Lord.")  But two of my precious little ones have cavities in those perfect, fresh start teeth.  And I know that it's my fault.  Because while I have worked at my own hygiene, I haven't been faithful with theirs.  Too often, I let them go to bed without brushing or with a passing swipe at those precious pearls.  Too often, I give in to the cry of "I can do it myself," and don't insist on taking a closer look.  And now my babies have to endure what is perhaps my own greatest fear: dental work.  And it's all my fault.

I have spent the last few minutes searching in vain for the verse which talks about the sins of the parents being visited on their children.  I'm sure it's in there.  But the only verses I can find speak only of grace.  "The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son." (Ezek. 18:20)  I am sick to think of the consequences that my children now face, but I give thanks today that they are not being punished for my lack of discipline. 

My sweet husband has encouraged me that we will now do what needs to be done.  Like every new day, we will begin again to do (as my wise aunt puts it) "the next right thing."  May God give us grace and strength to do so, and may you all be encouraged today to accept it when it is given.

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