Recently, someone I look up to told me that she flosses everyday, and that she loves flossing.
“Weird, I know,” she laughed.
The conversation was fleeting, but that flossing thing wouldn’t leave my mind.
I’m a creature of denial. I live under the guise of, “if you can’t see it, it isn’t there.” I’ll go days without reading the news when something bad happens (like Swine Flu) or I’ll keep working through sickness. You know what else I do? I don’t floss because CAVITIES AREN’T REAL IF YOU CAN’T SEE THEM, right? Right. I have really sensitive teeth, and I don’t even like getting them cleaned!
But something about my friend saying, “I love flossing” changed me. Maybe it’s all the therapy I’ve been in, maybe it’s that my friend cast a waxy spell, maybe my heart is changing and I’m pulling my head out of the sand, bit by bit!
But I bought floss!
This isn’t new. I buy floss a lot, but oftentimes it gets used up by Alice or Lacy for craft projects. Or I lose it. Or I bury it in my cosmetic bag and guess what? If I can’t see it, it isn’t there.
This time, though, was different. I used that bad boy. I flossed morning and night using a technique the dental hygienist had taken time to teach me while I nodded outwardly and inwardly cried… because knowing how to floss properly meant I’d be held accountable in heaven, and up to that point, I’d rationalized my rotten teeth away quite nicely.
At first it was easy. It’s always easy when you have a new toy to play with, and my floss was my new toy. Each morning, I’d get out of bed and oil pull. I’d take a few supplements and go for a morning stroll where I’d pray. I’d head home and make a green drink with kefir and then floss my teeth before going to work.
At night, I’d floss before bed.
Pretty soon, the magic of novelty wore off BUT by then something else had kicked in: conscious. If I ever slid into bed without flossing, I was uncomfortable.
I’d seen it, okay? I’d SEEN the bits of YUCK that came out when I flossed, and I KNOW I’d gone to bed with them.
You’re lying with filth and gunk.
Your mouth, your breath, your health.
I’d spin my tongue over my teeth to
1) try and convince myself that my teeth were clean enough and
2) try and use my tongue to do a sub-par cleaning job.
It just didn’t fly. I would finally just get the heck up and floss my gunk-y teeth. As I pulled bits of crud out of my mouth, I always felt better.
I sent it to my friend, too excited to be embarrassed. I thanked her for inspiring me, and then I went to the store and felt pretty grown up about buying more floss to replace the floss I’d used.
No one around me cared, but they probably should have. I should have said something, right?
“Oh, you’re here in the tooth-health aisle too? Yeah, I come here pretty often. Just replacing my floss today. I ran out yesterday, so here I am again…”
Maybe I should buy some suspenders to snap for effect?
The craziest part about being A Flosser now is that I keep looking at the nasty bits of chicken that looked SO GOOD going in and SO GROTESQUE popping back out, and I think, ‘I can’t believe I’ve denied the existence of rogue bits of food between my teeth for SO LONG.’
What damage has been done?
And because I can go from surface to deep in a split second, I thought about my life before… I remember when I was 20 and someone flippantly mentioned in passing how they were trying their best to live the gospel of Christ.
“I read, I pray, I repent everyday…” and on and on they went, but every word they said after that sounded like muffled blur.
Repent every. day?
I remembered working the repentance process maybe twice in my entire life up to that point? Surely, my sins weren’t wholly BAD. I mean, not counting those few times I had to go talk to the bishop… but did I sin daily?
This became a little nagging seed in my mind.
How does one SIN DAILY?
As time has gone on and I’ve gone through a lot of soul-searching and polished my proverbial Mirror or Morality, I’ve found that I sin repeatedly each day.
Pride, Fear, Judgement, Resentment, Repeat.
It’s my fun little Reality version of a Spin Cycle!
As my flossing habit has begun to struggle with summer being here (read: kids underfoot every minute), I found myself in a quiet minute in front of my ACTUAL mirror, plugging away at my teeth. As I looked at the food I’d pulled from my teeth, I thought, ‘I can’t believe I have been ignoring this for years’ and immediately thought about my Proverbial mirror -the one I’d never stopped to examine until only a few years ago.
Now each day I turn to God and floss out bits of pride and fear.
Do they come back? Like chicken, folks. Like clockwork and bits of chicken between molars. But I still floss.
I sleep better, I feel better. Each time I run a waxy bit of minty string between my teeth, I send a message to myself, ‘Hey, way to care for you. Good job.’
It’s the same sort of feeling I get when I really partake of the Sacrament each week, when I bow my head and run over the week and talk with God about the good, the bad, the ugly and the blessed. I get the same feeling when I work on repenting everyday.
It’s hard and I stink at it, but at least I’ve started and I’m trying.
Sometimes I believe that God doesn’t notice my trying, only my failing. But that isn’t true.
When I forget to floss in the morning, I don’t beat myself up. I don’t make a list of my hygienic failings. I just go about my day and stick a feather in my cap because
HEY, there’s FLOSS IN MY BATHROOM BEING USED MORE OFTEN THAN NOT!
Which is more than I could say three months ago.
So here’s to floss, and here’s to flossing out mean bits of waste intent on causing bodily and soul harm.
And if you see me buying floss, don’t hesitate to applaud.