Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lessons from the Dentist

Ever since my experience of orthodontics I have been wary of visiting the dentist. The results are phenomenal but the memories of wires poking into gums and train-tracks cutting inner lips linger on.

Last month a couple of teeth became sensitive so, curious, I went exploring with a dentist's mirror. To my horror I found brown crevices in two of my upper molars and a black spot hiding around the side of one of the lower ones. Horrified, I determined to brush my teeth more thoroughly and with more vigour and enthusiasm as well as alternate flossing and using dental sticks followed by a swig of mouthwash. Surely I could postpone (if not reverse) the inevitable before my upcoming dental check-up?

I smiled as I walked in and sat on the chair of doom. I felt strangely relaxed as I reclined though I wasn't looking forward to the questions, "And do you wear the retainers every night?" "How often do you floss?" "Are you using mouthwash?" To my surprise the questions never came but I began to hear God's soft, whispered questions.

"Do you still see dread coming to Me as much as you dread the dentist? Do you dread yourself being laid bare, your imperfections and failings coming into the light for all to see?"

The dentist worked patiently, adjusting my retainer- adjust, check, adjust, check, adjust, check. He didn't scold me for not wearing my retainer- he just took my teeth as they were and worked from there. What a picture of God's grace?! Rather than give out to us when we mess us, He takes us as we are and works from there.

Next came an interesting surprise.
"You've been doing too good a job- you've been brushing your teeth too hard." He went on to show me how to position the soft brush ("soft is better than hard" he said!) and gently rotate it in place. I had been too hard- too hard on my teeth, too hard on myself instead of just coming to the Expert and letting him do what He does best.

The crevices will have to be sealed. He told me that they are too difficult to clean by myself, I need help.

Thank God I can't do life by myself- I need Him. :)