Cues from Life
Lessons from Dental Floss
Dental floss is a convenient replacement for toothpicks and is designed to allow us to efficiently remove food particles that have lodged between our teeth. The early removal of particles prevents the occurrence of decay and the onset of poor dental hygiene. Poor dental hygiene has unpleasant effects and usually produces painful consequences.
Sin has a way of lodging easily in our lives. Left unattended it leads to decay and poor spiritual health. The effects are unpleasant and can be eternally painful. Have you noticed that when you err for the first time in a particular area, it is repulsive and you are really very upset. The next time, the level of your anger is somewhat lower. This continues until the error becomes a “besetting sin” — in other words, you have grown to accept its occurrence. That is why it has beset you. Swift repentance (real, deep-seated regret and a firm commitment not to repeat the action) flosses out sin from our lives before they get a chance to settle in and produce lasting decay.
Thread-like in appearance, dental floss owes its popularity to the fact that it is made of sterner stuff than thread. The texture of thread is such that it snaps too easily when used for flossing. One of the goals of personal development is to so shape our ‘texture’ (character) that we are built of sterner stuff.
We want to produce mental fibre that can withstand the stresses of life without snapping. The first step is to recognize the fact that it is possible to develop the capacity to cope better with stress. In order to produce floss instead of thread, one has to alter either the inputs or the process. The same is true of character. What we are is result of the raw material we feed into our minds. A steady supply of healthy, positive thoughts mixed with a clear vision and a commitment to excellence will produce a strong personality, capable of coping with life.
Dental floss grew in popularity over toothpicks because its flexibility offered the user far greater opportunities to remove food particles than a toothpick. Too many of us go through life in a fixed, one-directional manner. We get flustered and unproductive if things fail to go as planned. We stick stubbornly to ‘the plan’, unwilling to open our minds to other options and to revised objectives. Flexibility is a better option than holding firm to a wooden, uni-directional approach to living.