When something is important and requires action, sometimes you need to do something about it. Sometimes, you don’t. Let it itch.
Sitting in the dentist chair is often an ominous feeling for many folks. Fortunately for me, I’ve been blessed with flawless teeth. They’ve held up remarkably well. Not one cavity, good coloring, and the gums are healthy. But, there I was in the dentist chair. And I was facing a situation I’ve not been in for some time.
Without being too specific or revealing details that would deploy any warning pop-ups, I’ll say only this:
There I was, reclined and mouth ajar as my dutiful hygienist—whom I’ve known for years and is the mother of four boys (that’s important)—was squeegeeing my mouth when, all of a sudden, an itch.
Now, itches are easy to get rid of. Like swatting flies or picking up dropped M&Ms, it literally takes seconds (no more than five) to have relief.
Well, not in the (nether) region of which this itch did twitch.
Chivalry must not die, I thought. It’s just an itch.
To reach down and provide the relief necessary would have been, by all accounts, inappropriate. Yes, she has four boys in college and high school. No doubt the things she’s witnessed and washed are surely beyond this minor offense.
However, I could not bring myself to do it. I chose not to scratch. And so, I waited.
Like nails on a chalkboard, the itch intensified. It told me I was powerless, and so the mental games began. Chivalry must not die, I thought. It’s just an itch.
But, with every reason not to itch, more reasons to scratch reared into my head. She’ll understand. It won’t be the first time. This was one of those moments where praying seems such a waste on something so simple…and yet…I did pray.
No, I did not cave. I did not bow to the temptation of the itch. It simply faded away. The itch was powerless—when it was finally gone. In retrospect, it always had been.
“I’ve often wondered about the character development of letting an itch go unscratched. It’s almost like a form of fasting.” — Brett Kelly
The rest of the cleaning carried on without anyone knowing the anguish I had endured. But, really, was it anguish?
Was it suffering?
And that left me wondering:
- What else in my life itches like that?
- What things in my life require no scratch at all, but there I am scratching away?
- What itches, if left unscratched, would help me move past them forever?
At this time I could certainly bring up unhealthy itches like certain eating habits and listening to the negative voice that delays big and small advancements in my life. However, for now, I simply want to focus on that moment when the itch comes. Itches are different for us all. Some itches will fuel our success and help us become more productive, more vulnerable, more satisfied with our circumstances.
And some itches can completely derail our success, our families, and our intimacy with God.
Imagine if I scratched every good itch, what might happen? My good itches off the top of my head:
- Spending time with Jesus – If I drive to the mountain for a half day of silence right now, I will draw nearer to my savior.
- Writing a case study for myself – I will share a truth that happened, others might learn something from it, and, possibly, it might lead to a new opportunity.
- Giving my staff a day off just because – Just because gifts are often the ones that help bind people together…because love.
And, imagine if I let those bad itches go unscratched.
- Eat something greasy – I will consume bad calories today and I won’t be further along on my goal to live a healthier life.
- Dumb Content on Internet – The work God has for me is right in front of me, but, instead, I will delay it and let distraction rule the hour or day.
- The itch to drive to Vegas and not look back – Clearly that’s ridiculous, but if you’ve ever owned a business and have three children under six, it may not sound so ridiculous…
My dear friend, Brett Kelly (a content marketing guru like me) and I were chatting about this topic, and, as he often does, said something lovely:
“I’ve often wondered about the character development of letting an itch go unscratched. It’s almost like a form of fasting.”
The next time you’re in the dentist chair, or sitting anywhere and a physical itch doth come, leave it well alone just to experience the sensation and see how long it takes to experience relief. You might be surprised by how quickly it leaves and how much self control you have to endure it.