If there are three things I want to hold onto until the end of my life it’s my brains, my teeth and my hair—in that order.
The brain part is kind of iffy but I’ve been trying to spare it by not using it very much. It gets lots of time off. My hair, I think, is a gift from Grandma or Grandpa Porter. They had nice, thick hair all their lives. My dad probably wanted to give me his, but he didn’t have much left by the time retirement set in so I just let him keep it.
Teeth are a different story. Mine hang in there pretty good but I know that I’ve got to take care of them or they’ll desert me. There, my friend, is the rub. To do that you have to go to the torture chamber–um, excuse me. I mean the dentist office.
Now, I have to admit that I went to a dentist in Springfield, Missouri and she was excellent. I left her office with a very positive outlook on life. Of course, the laughing gas she gave me might have had something to do with that. (And the good job she did on my tooth).
But, the other day I went to a dentist here in France and I wasn’t nearly as positive when I left her office. I’d been having some pain but she said all that I needed was a good teeth cleaning. She was bright and cheery but that didn’t help. I’m suspicious of anyone who is cheery in a dentist’s office.
Well, she began by deadening my teeth, my gums, the bottom of my nose and the top of my chin. That’s not an exaggeration. She gave me little shots all across the top and bottom of my teeth. My lips went dead. I felt like the Joker in a Batman movie with his wide, immovable lips frozen in a perpetual smile. I may have been smiling on the outside, I couldn’t really tell for sure, but I assure you I wasn’t smiling in my heart.
I was praying!
Then she took her instrument of torture and went to work. It sounded like a lumberjack in Northern Canada cutting wood for winter, though at times it sounded like a jungle full of animals, and at other times it sounded like chirping chipmunks. Once I had a flashback to a stuck hog I had heard screaming many years ago.
She asked me fairly often if I was okay, but what can you say when you lips are frozen and your mouth full of that spit-sucker thing, plus fingers and other odd tools?
At last she finished and she wanted to know if I had had a nap (I guess because my eyes were closed and I wasn’t saying anything). I tried to tell her that it was too noisy for a nap but my dead lips couldn’t form a “b.” (Noise is “bruit” in French). I staggered out of her office with my Joker lips and the conviction that I’d never go there again.
I felt like I had been in a car wreck.
I expected to be in pain when the anesthetic wore off and I wasn’t looking forward to the next day when I’d probably have to go to the emergency room for a pain-killer.
You know what? The next day my mouth felt gooood! My teeth and gums hadn’t felt this good in quite a while. No pain. Best of all, I realized that what she had done would, in theory at least, lengthen the life of my teeth.
Life Is Like That
I’ve got bad news and good news for you. Life is like that. Some of the things that traumatize you make you stronger and more effective. We talk a lot about Joseph and the “dentist office” of slavery, lying ladies, then prison. But, if he hadn’t been victorious in those excruciating trials, he wouldn’t have been ready to rule over a kingdom.
You meant it for harm,” he told his trembling brothers when they figured he would get revenge on them, “but God meant it for good.”
I don’t look forward to the dentist offices of this life. And I realize that they don’t all come from the Lord. Sometimes it’s the devil trying to destroy you. But, either way, you’ve got to stand up in faith and resist, or persevere in faith all the way through to victory. Whichever, you grow and God can then use you even more effectively.
Some of life’s mountains you speak to in faith and they fly backwards into the sea. But, some mountains you have to climb by faith.
(Hint: if you speak and it doesn’t move, get your climbing boots out).
“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” (Rom. 5:3-5 The Message)
So, my dentist friend was helping me when I thought she was hurting me (which she was)? And that should prolong the life of my teeth?
Maybe I should get her to work on my brain.
Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with. And the collisions and the dreams lead to your changes. And the changes are what you become. Seth Godin