Busy mentally and physically I’d ignored an enlarging bump on my gum line. It didn’t hurt, so it got pushed to the bottom of the longer list of urgent and immediate needs.
Then it dawned on me, what if this turns into a big problem in the middle of a big move? Scenarios of unpacking with a throbbing mouth or driving across state lines blurred by oral pain grew in my imagination. I made a nervous call to my dentist and scheduled an appointment.
I’m just playing it safe
An x-ray revealed an abscess on a tooth with an ancient root canal. Earlier this year we shelled out money on a new crown, undoubtedly the most expensive tooth in my mouth, and now a specialist would drill through the crown hoping to not break it as a new root canal was completed. This should drive the infection away my dentist reassured.
Hope and security held onto that word should tightly as the long syringe hunted for my nerves deep in my jaw by the endodontist. Comfortable and completely numb I geared up for an hour of dental work. The high-pitched hum of the drill became white noise while should and I waited compliantly.
Soon, it felt too soon for the endodontist to raise me from the reclined position. He asked me to sit up and held the x-ray to the light. It’s so slight I didn’t notice it on the x-ray but you have a vertical crack in this root.” He pointed with a shiny metal instrument. “Even if I complete this procedure you will have recurring infections because of this crack. I’m sorry to say this tooth cannot be saved. We need to extract the tooth.”
Should left my side and my eyes welled with tears of fear, embarrassment, anger and sadness. Where did should go? I didn’t want to lose my tooth. My kids were losing teeth. I’m in the middle years, I’m supposed to keep my teeth at least another twenty years.
Isn’t that life? We set our expectations on what should happen, what should be “right and good” only to get sucker punched. At least that’s how it felt as I sat in the dentist’s chair first thing the next morning.
One tooth should be a cinch.
Tears streamed down my cheeks from ridiculous pain I felt pity oozing from the dental assistant. The dentist kept asking for a response from me, “Julie, are you with me?” I’d manage a thumbs up and prayed it would come to a swift end. With all the shots into my jaw and gums I should not feel anything, but I did. The only way to end the pain was to survive it. I worked to focus my mind as a means of enduring…
I’m grateful I went in on Monday.
I’m grateful for a clean dental office.
I’m grateful I can have this procedure done.
I’m grateful we can afford to have this procedure completed…my mind trailed to people in need of this care around the world an in my community.
The dentist’s comments sounded distant but I heard him clearly, “You would have been in the emergency room this weekend if you hadn’t come in today. This infection is worse than we could tell.” Should left his side too.
The Power of Pain
Pain has an odd power over a heart and mind; it distorts and misleads. Weary from the traumatic extraction and subsequent pain I found my mind considering our move in a new way, perhaps how others saw it: Crazy. Is God really doing this? My heart folded. Could I really leave family, friends and familiarity? The excitement to move seemed cheap and the plan for our ordinary lives ridiculous.
God let me sit right there in my physical pain and heartache. Don’t get me wrong, God did not leave, but He gave me a moment to consider the cost and ripple effect of leaving. If I thought following God on this adventure should be fun and exciting I needed to adjust my expectations. It would also be messy, unpredictable in ways I cannot compensate for, and hurtful, especially to our family.
My idea of should betrays me every opportunity but God is constant. I can choose to hold onto what I think should take place or trust God with what will. When expectations are aimed at God, when we live expecting and accepting what God knows should take place for our best and His glory we will thrive regardless of our circumstances.
I chose again, God’s will over my should and booked a hotel there two days out to secure housing. But problems arise when you book hotels while on medications you never ingest and believe it’s possible to secure anything…never a dull moment…
Do you need to give should the boot and God’s solid will a yes?