Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Hate the Dentist

This morning, I went to the dentist after a three year hiatus. The hiatus is especially shameful given that there is a dentist operating out of my apartment building. However, like most people, I'm not really a fan of the dentist. Prior to heading downstairs, I was in the bathroom flossing, brushing, and gargling with mouthwash. I wanted my teeth to be clean before having them cleaned, because it had been so long. The thought that my teeth were gross, created all sorts of legit fear. And I thought to myself: why have I waited so long? And I narrowed it down to these three:

The Anxiety
 I had kind of fallen down on flossing in the past couple of months. I hadn't given it up completely, I just didn't do it every night like in times past. Sometimes, you get home really late, and you just hurriedly brush your teeth and fall into bed. Or, sometimes, you're out of floss, you go to the grocery store, buy everything BUT floss, and decide: "I'm not going back out there." I feel like I have the basics: toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash. But, I get worried that (1) my gums will bleed when they start doing their little scraping, which will (2) lead to a lecture on flossing, which ends with (3) shame. I also fear they will tell me I have cavities...

The Invasive Nature of it All
I'm not thrilled when strangers touch me. So, you can imagine I really don't like it when their hands are IN my mouth, and they are lifting and twisting and turning my tongue. It's gross. They're putting little metal sticks right on my sensitive gums, and scraping. Dental Hygienist...you are too close!

Also, I HATE HATE HATE the X-rays. It hurts when you bite down on the little X-ray sticks so they can take the picture. I feel really exposed and vulnerable just laying there. And they put a stupid apron over your body--to shield you from radiation I guess. But I'm always thinking: but you're X-raying MY FACE. I guess it can't be helped. No protection to be had for my face.

Side Note: I quite enjoy the polishing. That weird toothpaste they use with the little red sand...I love it! Only because my teeth feel SO clean afterwards. It makes it all worth it.

The Cost
What if they find a cavity, or receding gums, or gingivitis? Then...thou art screwed. Insurance helps a little, but I've spent a lot of money over the years in dental care. And it's unavoidable. If a tooth hurts, it's excruciating, and you HAVE to get it fixed. You're all like "money is no object" when money is always an object...just not at the dentist.

And I started thinking: this is kind of like going to church. Kind of like becoming a Christian. How so?
  1. There is anxiety in taking that first step, because sometimes we don't feel good enough or "nice" enough, or like the type of person who should be at anyone's church. We've done things. Or we haven't done things that we should've and you can fear "they" will tell you that you have "cavities."
  2. Church is super invasive. Salvation is really nitty gritty, personal, in your face drama. I really can't sugarcoat it. When you are at the dentist, those tools HAVE to go in your mouth. When you're reading the Bible, and you're listening to sermons, it's going straight to your heart...and you feel it. And it kind of hurts.
  3. Being a Christian is legitimately a life of sacrifice. And it will cost you. Anyone who tells you that it will not cost you, and who is selling you this hippy dippy version of Christianity has tricked you but good. "Take up your cross and follow me" is real (Luke 9:23).
I will expound on those three points in my next blog: Jesus is a Dentist.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Absolution or Absolutely Not: Being Nice

So, clearly, I've been having a writing drought this month. Part of this is because I simply don't have any new ideas. The other part is I don't really have time to form any new ideas because I'm working so much. The month following a quarter-end (March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31) is a brutal time for me. I have worked over 24 hours straight before. In the past 6 months I've missed two concerts because I was working so late I couldn't go...one of them was last week. It was Ingrid Michaelson. I was a little bit crushed. Add on to that, I was working until nearly midnight and eating things like Panera and Taco Bell for dinner. I was sad. And drained. And eventually, I turned into a raging B%#$*. (see note*)

I wasn't being unprofessional, but  I'm ashamed to say I wasn't very nice for maybe 2 whole days. And when it was over, and I had calmed myself down with contemporary gospel on Spotify, I realized: There's no way I was shining the light of Christ on those days.

Not. At. All.

But do I have to be nice? All the time? Regardless of circumstances? 

I felt kinda bad, so I started looking for absolution. GOOGLE! What did I google? "Do Christians have to be nice." Google is great for finding absolution. You can find a nice blog, or a cool sermon that really caters to your nonsense. For example, I found a blog that said:

"This belief [regarding Christians being nice] will destroy the ability to for Christians to have any influence because nice people always finish last. Jesus was not a nice man.  Jesus broke the rules, got in fights, disrespected the leaders, did what he was told not to do, and even broke tradition.  Jesus is not nice, Jesus is dangerous and unpredictable."

Absolution or Absolutely Not? 

Sigh. Absolutely not. At least, absolutely not in my case. First of all, I see where this guy is going with the above quote. Christians are called to live bold lives WHEN IT COMES TO SPREADING THE GOSPEL. But Jesus broke no laws, He fulfilled it (Matthew 5:17). License to be mean: revoked.

I don't know how you can call a guy who heals the sick, raises the dead, and feeds the hungry multitudes a "meanie" but...whatevs. I know what he's getting at. Jesus did shake things up, but it's not because he was having a bad day. License to be mean: revoked.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 
Ephesians 4:29 (NASB)

She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 
Proverbs 31:26 (NASB)

Proverbs 31 Woman? Not me. Not last week. 

I wonder what else I have tried to absolve myself of...and did I succeed? 

*Note: I don't curse. So even in my mind, that's a "bleep" but trust me, the "bleep" was real.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Frank Ocean and Public Opinion

Frank Ocean came out of the closet this weekend, and immediately Jay-Z and Beyonce came out in support of him. This show of support could save his career. Regardless of my religious views, great music is great music. Period. Case in point: Tegan and Sara. I will rock out to "Call it Off" in my car like I just want to "break my own heart" right there in my Jetta. What awes me about the Frank Ocean saga is not the bravery of a hip-hop artist coming out of the closet (b/c I don't care), but rather the way in which Jay-Z and Beyonce might actually have the ability and the power to shape the landscape of public opinion.

And I thought: who's shaping my opinion? What changes my mind when I hear it? Who's seal of approval sparks my own approval? 

And I thought: The Woman Caught in Adultery

This is a famous occurrence in the Bible and people quote it ALL the time, when they don't want judgment to fall on them. However, it's conveniently forgotten when they feel the need to pass judgment.

Setting: The Temple at Dawn
Sitch: The Pharisees have just brought a woman who they "caught" in adultery to Jesus saying:

“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” ...But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger... he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” ...At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time...until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said “Then neither do I condem you,”Jesus declared. 
Excerpts of John 8:3-11
Prior to JC speaking  a word, everyone approved of her stoning. Everyone's opinion was shaped in the same way. But then, out of nowhere,  Jesus re-shaped the landscape of public opinion. Right then, in the midst of what had to have been mob mentality, Jesus changed minds. And here's what's crazy:
Their opinion was based in fact. 

We know "You shall not commit adultery" is one of the 10 commandments, as well as just being icky behavior. Per a little research, I found out that  Jewish law treated adultery as super serious because it (1) violated God's ordinance and (2) wreaked havoc on the stability of marriage and family life.  Does that sound familiar? Since they were right, all they needed to do was throw the first stone. Maybe they had forgotten how to throw stones?

 Again, their opinion was based in fact.

This woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law did command them to stone such a person...but yet they were dissuaded from throwing stones. In a pistols at dawn moment, Jesus shot Grace over Law. And he shot everyone in the heart, by introducing self-examination into the judgment process.

She's an adulterer. But what are you?

And before you say you're perfectly awesome, please check 1 John 1:8 and settle down.There, there, settle down.

But Jesus, being sinless and...ummm God, was certainly in a position to condemn her, but He didn't. And it is not like He was endorsing her lifestyle, because at the end of v. 11 He says "Go, and sin no more." But rather, He (1) dismissed all the people who judgment didn't belong to, and (2) as the one person with judgment authority...He pardoned.

Look down.

Is there a stone in your hand? If so, who's shaping the landscape of your opinion? ...Because odds are it's not Christ.