January 20, 2009

Confession, Kinda Like Extraction of Spiritual Tooth Decay

Reposted from Saturday, January 17th, 2009

I’m writing this in front of a computer with an ice pack tied to my head. I call it my hands-free redtooth device, put in place to reduce the swelling I’m experiencing from having two molars extracted. This is my physical body telling me it’s been brutalized.

My two upper 3rd molars were not being used for anything. They had no counterparts beneath them on which to grind on, and instead they were simply collecting dirt in pockets of food. In time, those molars would have slipped out anyway. My dentist advised me to get rid of them, thereby reducing any dirt collection areas they were hiding.

photo of an open-mouthed dentist's patient.
“104/365: I love the dentist.” Flickr photo by Betsssssy.

Miraculously, she extracted them in 5 minutes, painlessly. The injection was painless because her hands were steady. And the tooth extraction itself? She didn’t need forceps. Just one tool which looked a chisel, and 2 minutes per tooth. Wow. After all those painful extractions of my youth, this one was a miracle.

Until I got home, and the anesthesia wore off, and I was in pain that shot out like lightning bolts, from head to toe. Got the ice pack, filled it to the brim and lay down without eating. Slept it off. And now, a day later, it’s acting up again. So I administer the ice pack, and stick to the soft foods.

* * *

Just this Monday, I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was just after the 7 AM Mass at our parish. I sat down with my pastor and parish priest and confessed my sins to God, through the priest (who is Our Lord’s stand-in), and he reminded me that loving is accepting without expectation (or, that I must “Love without counting,” as I’ve blogged about before). Harboring bitterness or expectations is not healthy, he told me. So, love without asking for anything in return. I sat in prayer before the tabernacle housing the ultimate expression of loving unconditionally.

I know I am forgiven because I believe that when Jesus instituted His church on earth, He gave the apostles the authority to bind and loose (Matthew 16:19), which is the authority to forgive sins and reconcile sinners with the church.

Photo of a woman kneeling at a confession booth.
“confession.” Flickr photo by jovike.

Like my molar extraction, the pain hit me afterwards in the form of temptation. In my past year at my job, I’ve never felt more irritable than this week. And it’s been a struggle fighting it. It’s been tough going. But through God’s grace, things have been more than fine. Things have been taken care of. Prayer helps, and the daily reading of Scripture and the Catechism enriches me.

But see, I’m better off without the molars, just as I’m better off without the sins. And even if the physical body aches (molars) and is buffeted with temptation (spirit), I know in the end, that this is good for me. And this is how it should be.

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