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I hate going to the dentist. Actually hate isn’t a strong enough word; it’s more like I find the dentist office experience equates nicely to a trip to hell for me. I get really nervous, my palms get sweaty and l uncontrollably Iaugh at jokes that aren’t funny when the dentist tries to ease my angst. But more so I am terribly afraid that he will accidentally drop one of those metal parts of the drill down my throat or I will choke on the metal shavings he is drilling away at. I imagine all sorts of awful scenarios that involve a life flight to the local ER or the nurse yelling “Code Blue” over my shock riddled body. It is utterly ridiculous and I know it but I can’t help it. I am afraid of the dentist.
It seems he never gives me good news. He only tells me what is wrong with my teeth and that I will need 14 cavities filled, 4 crowns and 1 root canal. Well actually that’s an exaggeration but that is what it felt like when he told me I had 2 teeth in the back that needed crowns. Great, I thought to myself, not only will I have to sell body parts to pay for the bill but I will also get to experience the awesomeness of receiving 2 crowns. I have always wanted a real queen crown of my very own….now I’ll get to have 2. Right, can’t wait.
So this is how my last experience went leading up to the bad news of needing 2 crowns. I knew something really bad was transpiring with a couple of my back teeth but I just kept ignoring it. Actually I lived in denial about it for 2 years. I kept thinking that dull ache that I felt when I ate something hot or cold would finally go away like a bad tummy ache. I came to grips with the fact that I just couldn’t chew food on the side of my mouth so I avoided it and only used one side of my mouth to chew with. I learned how to live with only the use of one side of my mouth but I knew at some point I needed to deal with the issues and stop living in denial. My refusal to acknowledge the presence of pain and get help costs me over $1100 and a fun dentist office trip.
We do that all of the time in our non dental lives. Every single one of us. We go through life with pain in our hearts and soul, like a cancer eating away at us. Dreams lost, relationships broken, misunderstandings lurking in our soul about God’s plan and why things do or don’t work out in our life but we just keep going. But there’s this underlying bitterness, like a rotten place in our tooth that keeps growing with each failed attempt at a new relationship or business venture or whatever and we can’t seem to make sense of things not working out so the rotten place keeps growing and we keep getting angrier. We start to avoid that part of our lives when people ask us how our new business is going or are we still writing that book or are we married yet. We just stop using that part of ourselves because it’s too painful when something hot or cold in our life hits it. We became great avoiders, stuffing the pain down and limping through life. Or we find ways to circumvent the pain with witty humor. That is until we can’t take the pain anymore and we finally decide the fear of going to the dentist is eclipsed by the pain we are in. The pain drives us to get help. We want to be free from the rotten place but we let it live inside of us so long that we need help getting rid of it.
I found in my rotten tooth experience that my dentist carried a tremendous amount of skill and expertise. As I sat white knuckling my chair and terrified, he quickly completed the task of drilling out the decay and filling followed by carefully setting the crown. All in all, the procedure lasted about an hour and a half, and that even included my crown being formed and built in a machine.
If my dentist can perform such a slam dunk performance with my tooth what can God do with my soul? Is he not capable of ridding me of darkness that I try to hide or avoid? Can he not take the bitterness, anger and decay that camouflage itself so well in my heart? The problem is that I didn’t always want Him to know it was there. I kept covering it up, hoping its presence wouldn’t be noticed by the keeper of my soul. It embarrassed me that I blanketed myself in anger when He didn’t do what I wanted Him to do or I failed at something. With every loss the rottenness grew because I didn’t let God remove it.
We can’t wait until the rottenness is so bad that we will need crowns or a root canal, spiritually speaking. The longer we wait to let God help us in our dark seasons, the more damage will be done to our souls. My advice is this: Grab hold of God right now in all of your funk, filth and rottenness and confess all of the stuff that you know is there. The stuff like being angry and frustrated with Him or flat out ticked off. Be honest. You’re in a relationship with Him, which the Bible likens our relationship to Jesus as a marriage covenant. I don’t know about you, but when I get mad at my spouse, I mean really mad or frustrated, I tell him! Right or wrong I tell him how I feel. And usually my feelings were based on a lie that I believed, but I don’t realize that until we are talking about it and he is reassuring me of his love. And the truth is, I know this man loves me because we have been to hell and back together. The same is true of me and Jesus-He’s been down to the very bottom with me MANY times. Somehow or another the enemy slipped a lie in that I believed that twisted my thinking and caused a rotten spot in my soul. But when I ask Jesus to help me and confess it, He always come through for me and sets me free. He will do the same for you, if you will but ask. It’s ok to be frustrated and upset….but it’s not ok to let that go on for months or years and fester into full out anger and eventually rebellion.
That’s the lesson I learned at the dentist office and I won’t forget it. Jesus can handle my emotional roller coaster when I bring it to Him so it can be dealt with in a healthy way. And He can handle it when I let it go too far but it’s easier to bring it to Him before it gets to that place.