I woke up this morning just before 4:00 AM in agony. I had a toothache. It was so painful that I couldn’t get back to sleep and so I found myself walking round the house in such a state that I was probably ready to consume an entire packet of painkillers. I’m going to assume that I’m not the only one to have ever had a toothache and this blog is for all of you.
Why is it so difficult to go to the dentist? They are not bad people but I am loathe to see one. I don’t have such strong feelings about doctors or any other health specialists, just dentists. I have a secret (maybe not so secret now) fear that the dentist that I see is wanting to take pictures of my teeth for a textbook she may write one day – not that she has ever given any indication of the desire to write a textbook. I know this is completely irrational. It’s why there the letter lying on my desk for a couple of months now reminding me a make an appointment for another check-up.
When it comes to my teeth I feel like I can hide them a bit. I know they are not perfect but I can keep my mouth closed. No-one will ever have the need to know. Perhaps the root of my problem is that I am ashamed of my teeth. Shame does funny things to me. It causes me to only go to the dentist when it is absolutely necessary.
At times I think I can be like this with God and other believers too. Even if you’ve never had a toothache, I know that you have done the wrong thing at some point, and if you are like me then it is easy for it to become a pattern. As Christians we can try to cover it up and made sure nobody else knows and this can work, but I think we tend to be consumed by this. Our shame leads us to shy away for those who bring up issues that simply cause us too much pain. Taken to the extreme we can find it difficult to come before God. Should this be a surprise? Not really when you consider that Jesus died to forgive our sins, to bring us to relationship with God, to empower us to be able to choose right over wrong. Given this, when I willingly do the wrong thing it seems natural that it would be difficult to face God. But God isn’t a cosmic party-pooper, fun-stopping judge, he has come to give life. He longs for us to come to him despite of our failings because this is the very thing that Jesus died for. When we don’t, we unnecessarily carry round the burden of guilt and shame from which we have been liberated. God doesn’t want to merely cause us pain but to redeem our short-comings. It’s a bit like my tooth. The dentist doesn’t want to hurt me, but when I choose not to go to her, I inevitably end up feeling pain. If I had of just gone for the check-up then I wouldn’t be suffering the way I am now. When I delay going to God and telling him my faults, I end up causing myself more pain.
All this makes me realise that I need to be quick to come to God with my failings, and quick to go to the dentist for check-ups. Speaking of which, although I have been trying to delay it, I have to leave for my dentist appointment.