Jessica is in the other room doing school with Evie. The 4 year old is now becoming an educated little girl. May the learning never end, little girl, may you find yourself always in wonder of the new things to know in life.
Last night my in-law’s dog Kicker died on the way home from the vet. As much as my sour attitude lent itself to the name Kicker, he was a great dog and it will be weird to go to their place and not have him running around and barking at pretty much anything that moved outside.
One of my all time favorite memories with Kicker was when I used to tickle Jessica when we were dating and her laughter would lead him to bark at me and try to jump up to get me to stop. He was a loving dog and he was much loved. We will miss him.
American Idol had a clip from House of Pain’s Jump in the background. A song that came up on the honey moon trip of Jessica and I. A song we didn’t pick, but one that we couldn’t remember the name of. I woke Jessica up late that night to tell her I had thought of the song’s name. It is NOT our song, but it does make me laugh every time I hear it.
The four year old just shared this bit of logical gymnastics:
Sharks are fish. So you could call all fish sharks.
I’m going to pass on doing that. I’m also not going to bother her with the explanation of why that is not logically consistent.
So, if you happen to notice that I happen to get chided by several relatives in California about oral health care (particularly tooth brushing) then you’re undoubtedly curious as to why this it. Actually, you probably could give a rip. I’m going to explain it anyway. Nobody is holding you in front of the screen showing you this, so you can stop reading now if graphic description of tooth decay, tooth brushing, or OCD behaviors upset you.
Where: Philo, CA
What: Tooth brushing insanity
Why: There’s this story.
About the time I estimated above I was in California for a long summer stay at my grandparent’s and aunt and uncle’s place. There was this odd feeling on one of my teeth that I was sure was the cavity of all cavities. It sat there on the top of one of my molars calling out to me that I was a moron and didn’t brush enough. My tongue would brush it over and over again in a nervous tick that wanted to see if it had gone away over night while sleep fixed my tooth. Why does sleep fix teeth? It doesn’t, but I was hopeful.
There was a long, thin crack running across the top of the molar that might as well have been the grand canyon in miniature. My parents were going to be ticked because of the $5,000 in dental work this crack was going to cost them. So to help prevent other multi-billion dollar molar repairs I began brushing. Regularly. For 5 minutes or so. Several times a day. Between meals. Between my teeth. Flossing irregularly compared to brushing but obsessing on the massive gap, wider than David Letterman’s front tooth gap, in my rear right molar. I was prepared for some motorcycling stuntman to want to jump the massive span. Must brush.
And so for weeks I brushed my teeth with a religious zealotry that could only be matched by fervent televangelists who just needed a few more million dollars to complete that mansion that “god wanted them to have.” I was pretty sure God wanted me to have my teeth. So I brushed them more. All while being in California with my relatives.
A while later I went to the dentist with GREAT fear. Worried that the cavity was going to be much worse than my estimated $5,000.00. The hygienist looked at my teeth, cleaned them, made me swish fluoride around in my mouth – and then went to get the dentist. I had an empty stomach, but had I not I think that my Jr. High bowels would have evacuated with fear of the impending doom. Bring on the judge and jury to sentence my mouth to needles, Novocain, and numbness.
Alas, I had a plastic composite that had been used as a temporary stop-gap because I had a low spot in my molar. By a dentist some time before. It had warn out and was just ready to be replaced. I had no cavity. Zero dollars in repairs.
I didn’t brush my teeth for a week.
Just kidding, I brush my teeth daily whether they need it or not.
My wife goes to doctor.
My wife tells doctor that she’s been married 11+ years.
Doctor looks shocked that my wife would marry at 13.
Doctor calms down when she looks at the chart that shows my wife is actually 31 and not 24.
I married young, but not that young.
I’m writing this post ahead of time. Go figure. I’m writing this while having been studying for a Bible study lesson I will have taught by the time you read this. The thing I’m covering, as the title of this post suggests, involves rabbis. Without going into the hefty religious connotations of Christ being a rabbi, I want to give you some quick summary information and then ask you a question or three. Even if you’re not a Christian, this post has some relevance, so stick with me.
What’s a rabbi? Here is a short bit of text I wrote for my handout (it is by no means thorough):
Rabbis would have been teachers of the Old Testament, but primarily the Law or Pentateuch. Typically a student would approach a rabbi and ask if he may follow the rabbi, if the rabbi rejected him, he would then go off to a trade. The student of the rabbi was called a talmidim. If you’ve ever heard of the talmud, it is the a Judaic book that outlines traditional rabbinical teachings. Christ operated contrary to this and sought out His disciples and told them to follow Him. Furthermore the disciples were at least in part already involved in trades – so they would have to walk away from their careers and lives as they had expected them to be and instead joined themselves to Christ.
A rabbi was expected to have a physically following disciple or disciples, and Elijah and Elisha were an important example of this concept in the Old Testament [I Kings 19:19-21]. Time was to be spent together and a lifestyle that represented the teacher was to be lived in front of the following disciple. Discipleship meant being seen with the rabbi so that others would begin to see what the rabbi taught as see the fruit of the teachings worked out in the lives of the disciples.
What I have been thinking about is this question: Who are today’s rabbis? Who do people follow and identify themselves with? Historically it was a life devoted to a teacher and their teachings. In modern first world America, do we have time for this rabbi/disciple concept? Today we follow people on twitter, television, the Internet, and of course in our cars to the store, but do we really follow teachers and devote ourselves to their teachings?
Are rabbis Richard Dawkins, Rush Limbaugh, or Barry Obama? Of those three one is anti-religion but religious about his anti-religion, one is a right-wing-loud mouth, and one is a president with big words and many promises but single handedly incapable of delivering on what he wants to promise. Do we follow them? I personally wouldn’t follow them. I wouldn’t follow Oral Roberts, Bill Gates, or Joel Osteen.
Who is your rabbi?
I have written a few birthday songs for my co-workers over the last couple years (OK, over 30, starting with this one). They’re not great songs in the grand scheme of things, but they’re songs, and they’re for my co-workers. The one thing that I have heard over & over is that people are just glad for the songs because nobody’s every written them a song. This sits with me kinda funny because as a song writer some of my earliest songs were for people. One of the first ones was for my ex-sister-in-law (before she was my sister-in-law, and well before she was my ex-sister-in-law). She was having a down time and so I wrote her a song. I’ve written songs for lots of folks, most of which have never been played in public, I haven’t even shared them with the people I wrote them for in most cases.
What I want to know from you is this: when someone writes you a letter, by hand, stamps it, mails it, and sends you a message, is it personally more significant than an email, even if it isn’t different in content? Is it like a song where it strikes you as personal and powerful compared to a simpler happy birthday wish?
Have you ever found something so revolutionary that it changed the way you did things? In my life I have found a number of things that made my head spin, my world clearer, or my world bigger. In the late 90’s one such idea came from a book that really got me churning that was called “The Five Love Languages.” It seemed to make relationships between a husband and wife simpler and easier to grasp than the odd complexity I had developed prior to reading it. It made me want to explore love with my bride-to-be. The problem with such concepts as the five love languages is that people hear them, learn them, or come into contact with them and them get set off in the wrong direction because they don’t understand them as merely principles.
If you’re not familiar with the five love languages let me give you this simple list of the five:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
The gist of the book is that each person has a primary way that they perceive and express love with their spouse. Furthermore each spouse is strongly encouraged to explore their partner’s love language and keep that in mind when expressing love for him or her. I spent quite a bit of time liking the idea of focusing on exploring my bride’s love language and even figured out that this could be used, in a modified way, with my friends to express care for them. Ta-da! So did the book’s authors and other books in the series of love languages and their application were born and money was had through conferences, tests, merchandising and copyright infringement lawsuits from unlicensed tattoos [I made that last one up]. This is psychology stuff, so I’m sure that someone also discovered a sixth, seventh and eighth love language and has been trying to write papers proving the adequacy of those numbers of love languages for thesis papers and making a good practice out of helping marriages and relationships discover their tertiary love language.
Here’s the rub: this is overly complex despite the simplicity and it gets used as a poor excuse for husbands and wives to not love one another. At least not to their fullest. I want to explain that moving forward from here I’m going to be focused on a few Bible verses that I think make the five love languages childs play, and probably unnecessary. The first place we should take a look is Ephesians 5:22-27:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
What I see as I meditate on the above passage is something beyond the five love languages and something that should drive a wife absolutely coo-coo-bananas in love with her husband. A self-sacrificing husband. A guy who takes the five love languages in, sees their inadequacy, and says, “I’m going to love you in a million ways, and these five are merely a tiny, tiny tip of the iceberg.” I recently saw on Twitter a guy who said that he was sorry to his wife (publicly on Twitter?) that his primary love language was acts of service. Lameness. If her love language is knitting pot holders it doesn’t matter. If his language was bringing stray cats home to be fed, bathed, and neutered it doesn’t matter. Sacrificial love trumps all of the given concepts of love languages because it looks for opportunities to love in every aspect, every place, and it is not strapped to a single, primary concept of perceived or expressed love.
As a secondary point against not stopping with this love language concept is that one of the joys of my marriage with my wife has been exploring each of the facets of expression of love and trying to see how they can be expressed in deeper, more meaningful ways. Just as humans mature (or at least should mature) we look for ways to express love in a sacrificial, yet exploratory way. To make a food analogy just because I like vanilla ice cream doesn’t mean I don’t explore toppings, other flavors and other combinations within the world of ice cream (or frozen desserts). The same analogy applied to music means I don’t stop at the Beatles just because I like rock and roll quartets. Bring on trios [Cream], duos [Simon & Garfunkel], classical, dance, beat boxing, and opera*.
I’ve discovered that my wife pretty much likes all five love languages [in different quantities at different times] because she knows that they’re expressing love to her. I would probably not be wrong in saying that 99.999% of guys love physical touch [which often gets interpreted as physical intimacy, and for the sake of argument I'm going there now], but if let us face the facts: not all gals are wired for 24/7 physical touching and there may come a time when they’re bleeding, PMS-ing, medically unavailable, or holding a kitchen knife. It might be a good time, Mr. physical touch, to explore the finer nuances of quality time, words of affirmation, gifts [read: chocolate], or acupressure to relieve headaches. Sacrificially speaking get a grip, turn off your hormones for a moment and love your wife some other way so she doesn’t feel the need to lock herself in the bathroom, wear chain armor, or buy a slice-wire-bikini from Victoria’s Secret Weapon.
I want to close by saying I don’t hate the general principles behind the five love languages. They were a good starting point for me and helped me grasp why I might be miss-communicating with my bride-to-be. They’re not an excuse to be short sighted, justify weaknesses, or get in a rut. Make it a point to look for ways to create a richer, more complex relationship with your spouse by abandoning your love language and loving with your exploratory, revolutionary hats on.
*Stay away from country music which is an infectious disease [Just kidding (Not really)]