I rather doubt anybody would ever decide to read about toothpicks.

I can’t imagine such a subject would be very enlightening or informative or otherwise helpful for those who struggle.

Unless, however, you are challenged in the dental department with gaps and holes and other places for Big Macs and fries to get stuck.

As I write these words, I am in the middle of a Mr. Mom gig at the orthodontist with my youngest stepson, Max.

It’s braces day and I am reminded of toothpicks.

Go figure.

I like toothpicks.

I prefer the flat uncolored kind.

When I was a kid, we used to buy cinnamon oil from the pharmacy and make our own amazingly hot cinnamon toothpicks.

But I digress.

I have only ever once watched the Science channel show, How Do They Do It. And wouldn’t you know it, the subject was toothpicks.

It was interesting.


More than interesting, I was enthralled.

High drama, huh?


Have you ever wondered how they were made?

Did you ever question the manufacturing process?

When you picked up one of those individually wrapped toothpicks at the check out counter of your favorite restaurant, did you marvel at the engineering?

It’s time to ‘fess up, as my daddy likes to say.

Go ahead and admit your lifelong fascination with the whole subject of toothpicks.

Ok, I am waiting…

What? No takers? An opportunity to come clean and face your obsession and you are going to let it slide?

“Hi, my name is Les Ferguson, Jr. and I am addicted to all things toothpick.”

No. Not really. It’s all a lie. A sham. A shameless literary stunt to introduce something else.

A little resentment if you will…

Toothpicks are in reality, a fairly common, mundane fact or object of life. Unless that is, you are a really strange and obsessed connoisseur of toothpicks. Otherwise, toothpicks are a tool you use or not.

They don’t require much thought.

They don’t factor into your life in a huge meaningful way.

Toothpicks are toothpicks. They just are.

I envy those of you who have toothpick lives, who just get to rock along content and unworried.

And sometimes I feel not a little, but a great resentment.

I look at our struggles. I wrestle with our needs. And I wonder…

I wonder why so many get to skate through life seemingly untouched by trauma, heartache, and the ever present after-effects.

I wonder why our difficulties can be so all-consuming and yet invisible to many.

I wonder why life has to be so hard for some and so easy for others.

I wonder why opportunities and success can be ever present or always elusive, depending on who you are.

Like you, I want peace, hope, and security. I want a purpose that matters on a bigger stage.

I am sure I am consumed with envy.

Please forgive me.

And yet, as much as I want better circumstances, I am also thankful for the new found ability to truly be compassionate and understanding of those whose lives involve heartache and struggle.

I get it, I really do.

If you struggle, you are not alone.

On the other hand, if you are free from major heartache and trauma, take a walk on the wild side and open yourself up to what others have to endure. You’ll be more thankful and eventually be a blessing to some poor soul in need.

Yes, I hate our struggles at the same time I am thankful for the life lessons learned.

Who wants a toothpick?

Les Ferguson, Jr.

9 thoughts on “Toothpick

  1. I too am envious of those with toothpick lives. I use to be in that category & I miss it so much! Thanks for your words ….they are very inspiring & heartfelt.

  2. Les, I have been reading your journey for a while. I too, used to have a toothpick life, but the last 8 years seem more like a broken toothpick. I’ve questioned and cried, but finally feel like things are beginning to take shape once again. My life will never be a toothpick life because of what I have experienced, but like you, I am using my experiences to better connect with people whose lives aren’t toothpicks either. I could never have imagined the twists and turns in my life, but now I am able to help others navigate those same difficulties. Somehow God redeems our brokenness.

  3. Les, Thank you for your openness and the ability you have to put into words what so many of us feel. There are days when I’d love to know what a toothpick life is like, too — it’s been a long, long, time. But, a toothpick life just isn’t going to be — not for now. The more I look around and connect with others, the more I understand that there are a lot of “strugglers” out there in this big, wide world. And, so we non-toothpickers need to link arms (and hearts) and become strong like a mighty tree. Together we can support each other so that we’ll never fear being tossed about again.

    Great blog. Amazing thoughts!

  4. Les,

    I am awed and inspired to follow your journey here. You take the hurt and doubt that so many of us and the vast majority of our neighbors experience and rather than wallowing in self-pity as is our tendency to do, you glean from it the lessons that strengthen faith and give us the courage to continue. May your tribe increase.

    It is only when we have been broken that we can truly understand the suffering and sorrow that sin brings to our world and only thru that understanding that healing begins, both for ourselves and those we minister to.

    I so appreciate your work, pray that your opportunities to minister to others increase day by day and covet your prayers for my brokenness and those whom God sends my way. Blessings brother.

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