jim johnson

A roughneck is a person who works hard with dirty calloused hands.  A dental hygienist is a person who sticks their hands in other people’s mouths.  The two don’t usually come together, but they did for me. 

I waited in the lobby for the sweet young lady who typically cleaned my teeth.  My eyes were buried in my magazine when I heard a deep, raspy voice say, “Mr. Johnson.”   

Oh no – my hygienist must have a cold.  That’s bad! 

I looked up to see a man – with a smock on. This may be worse!

He walked me back to the room while explaining that the former hygienist had moved on and now he was the man. (literally) That’s OK I can do change or so I thought.  But then he told me that he was an oil field roughneck who got tired of it and became a hygienist instead.  This was the first day of work in a dentist’s office.  Oh my – this could really be bad.

He put on his mask and gloves, tilted my chair.  Once I recovered from the whiplash, he took his pick attacked my gums like he was fracking a well.  With every muscular jab, my head rebounded.  I gagged when his big thick hands reached back for my molars.  

I suppose that everyone has their gums bleed a little during a cleaning.  But this guy hit a gusher.  

To clean up, he could have used the little sucker thing that sprays water and then vacuums it from your mouth.  He chose, instead, to cram my mouth with gauze.  He just kept jamming it in until I looked like a chipmunk on steroids. 

The dentist passed in the hall, and I cried, “Help me” but it came out, “mmmm mm.”

I learned a valuable lesson that day – when you are doing dental – you need to be gentle.

But maybe that should carry over into the rest of life as well.

I listen to the mean-mouthed politicians speak to and about each other and I wonder, “Is such vitriol necessary?”  How about a little gentleness?  The apostle Paul advised, “be peaceable, gentle, showing complete courtesy to all people.”  – Titus 3:2

We sometimes overreact when the kids disobey?   Can’t we be firm and yet gentle at the same time?  Again, Paul says, “If anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness…” Galatians 6:1

Boss – must we use our authority to bludgeon those we manage?  James asks, “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct he should show his works done in the gentleness that wisdom brings.” – James 3:13

99% of the time I have been gentle in the way I speak to my wife.  She knows that, and yet, what she remembers is the harsh 1%.  This is what I need to remember, “A gentle response turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.”  – Proverbs 15:1

The apostle Paul advocated gentleness 10 different times in the New Testament.  I suspect he did so because he was inclined to be harsh.  (father issues – who knows?)  Peter chimed in at least once and James twice.  Jesus told us that it would be the gentle who would inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5) and 1 Timothy 6:11 equates gentleness with godliness.

Should we ignore such a pervasive theme?  Or should we steal away for prayer, asking God to cleanse us from past failure in this area and asking Him to fill us anew with His Spirit that we might bear the fruit of gentleness.  (Gal. 5:23)   

Need a lesson in gentleness?  Jesus offered to be our tutor. “Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle…”  – Matt 11:29

If you struggle with being gentle, you might consider speaking to a pastor or a counselor.  Sometimes our harshness is rooted in the past and we may need a little help as we work through it.    

Well I survived my dental cleaning and on my next visit I found that my roughneck friend had moved on, probably recruited by the CIA to interrogate terrorists.   I was relieved to learn that He was replaced by another sweet young lady who practiced gentle dental.

(all Scriptures references are from the NET Bible®)