I know this doesn’t exactly make us exceptional, but our family values tooth brushing. We think it’s extremely important. It’s part of our “family culture”. Our three year old, Reagan, doesn’t share that “value” yet. She hates it!
So what is the best way to get a toddler to brush their teeth? Over the past few years I’ve actually tried to brush them against her will (I know, father of the year), but it is impossible! If you don’t believe me and don’t have a toddler around, try to brush the teeth of the next cat you can find-the results will be the same. We’ve tried lecturing, rewarding, bribing, you name it…we’ve tried it all! Finally, my brilliant and beautiful Michele, found the solution. “Mommy” utilized Reagan’s love of “all things princess” and began to buy her a variety of different tooth brushes and pastes. Now tooth brushing has become an adventure for our “princess”. She has a toothbrush for every outfit, every occasion, every mood. Tooth brushing is no longer a “battle”.
Even though Michele’s solution was actually effective I can’t tell you I was immediately “thrilled” with the outcome. It offended my biases. (People should only have one toothbrush- it’s ridiculous to have ten.) It didn’t meet my traditions. (When I was a kid we only had one toothbrush… and we had to carve it out of wood ourselves…and we liked it that way.) It went against my personal comfort. (Why should I have to pay for ten toothbrushes… they’re not free you know.) In the end, my love for my daughter and my belief that tooth brushing is essential won out!
Those of us who value the Good News of Jesus find ourselves in a similar dilemma. We are surrounded by a community of people who simply don’t share our value. We can try to lecture, shame, bribe, or “trick” them, but in the end…the Church has not been very effective using these methods. The good news is that this is not a “new situation” to our creator. The Church has had to “re-invent” itself many times over the centuries since Jesus walked the earth. New “ways of doing church” that are effectively reaching communities are being developed every day! The question for each of us is this: Are we willing to put aside our biases, traditions, and personal comfort to spread the essential truth of the Gospel?
The answer to that question lies in another, much older, question: Do we love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves???