I like to think I wasn't a defiant kid. I like to think I was delightfully obedient in both the small tasks like going to sleep when asked or eating vegetables, and in the big ones like not hitting my sister or lying to my parents (to fact check me you might ask my mom).
But in Tish Harrison Warren's book Liturgy of the Ordinary, I immediately related to these words:
"This morning I brush my teeth—a mindless habit ingrained in me since before I can remember. I do so morning and night almost every day. I say ‘almost' because, at times, the sheer necessity of daily teeth brushing leaves me feeling resentful and, like a defiant teenager, I rebel against the system. I do not like having to do anything every day. I go to bed without brushing my teeth. Just to prove I can."
Warren isn't saying she is against teeth brushing. We all know this daily task is good for us. But there is something that stirs deep within, a voice that starts soft but grows louder and you wonder, "But what if I didn't?" A voice I relate to all too well.
I am reminded of my struggle to surrender to Jesus at this moment. The daily act of giving myself, my desires, and my life over to him can sometimes feel like the routine of brushing my teeth. I do it out of habit, out of the truth that I believe it is good for me and necessary for my health. But there are times when I want to rebel against what I know just to prove that I can.
But like getting a cavity can do, life throws you moments where you remember the importance of surrender. You can see more clearly that surrendering to Jesus is not done just out of habit or because you are told to do it, it is done because that is where true life is found.
A flawless brush record does not ensure you won't get a cavity, but that doesn't stop you from brushing your teeth. You may lay down your life, and at times feel robbed of control or comfort or both, but don't let that keep you from choosing to surrender. Remembering that the alternative, like not brushing your teeth, will only fail you.
Jesus says, "In this world you will have trouble." We feel the ache of that now more than ever. But we must not forget his promise to not leave us in the midst of our pain. Like a dentist who comes and gives relief from the ache of a cavity, we get to rest in the promise that God has overcome the world.
So, I will continue to shake off my defiance and brush my teeth and use it as a daily reminder that when our surrender feels too routine, God is still working and will use this obedience for his glory and my good.
This blog is part of a series reflecting on Tish Harrison Warren’s book, Liturgy of the Ordinary. Our strange times are the furthest thing from ordinary, but her book explores the transformation that happens in the daily, monotonous rhythms of our lives. As many of us feel stuck doing all of life at home, we are reminded of how all of life is worship.