When A Quick Fix Wont Do

There is never any reason for me ever to get excited about going to the dentist. Granted it has been close to 20 years since I last entered a dentist for myself. Just the mere thought of sitting in the reception area, breathing in the menthol, clinical smell, everytime the door swings open with someone leaving the room. While I looked at them intently, trying to decipher the looks on their faces as either being a successful appointment or a long drawn out horror saga.

Just in case you missed it, I said 20 years, that's right 20 long years since I made the brave decision to sit in the chair and have a dentist prode, poke, drill, and extract. In between me, gaggling mouth fills of prefilled water, that seemed to dribble down the side of my face. A white-knuckle experience I swore that I would never voluntarily do again.

Yet, here I am. I made the mistake of telling my husband about the niggling sensation that was vying for my attention before every bite of my chocolate cake. It was just ruining my whole experience of enjoying this guilty pleasure that I had routinely added into my week.
The thing about my darling husband is that he is a man of action, and hearing me whining was an excellent opportunity for his "Batman to the rescue" voice to be utilized and actioned.

I had one week to prepare myself, one whole week of rehearsing and nursing the memory of my last visit to the chair. One full week to induct my family into my pity countdown.

What was I fearing? Well, don't worry I'm going to tell you.

I was fearing the tell off! The browbeating and judgment. I was fearing the dentist saying to me "why did you let it get so bad"? I was fearing, hearing her tell me what a colossal mess I had created, with my neglect, my poor routines, and choices. I dreaded the stare from others that may be in the room. I was dreading that deep, piercing stare down, that would presumably happen, during my struggle to find the right words to kill the awkwardness and take the attention of me.

It was the fear of someone seeing past my unruly curls and edgy dress sense, pass the bright red lipstick that I used to hide my well-rehearsed reaction to fear.

I feared the harsh light that would be positioned to highlight all my flaws, which would be swiveled around to shine even into the darkest parts. I feared the tools that lay neatly on the trolley beside the chair. Waiting to be used to be plucked up and covered with my disgust. I feared the strength of each one's curve and my perceived idea of its worth.

I feared the drill and the force that it would be applied, as it gets pushed down and used to unhinge the plaque that had made itself at home, that no matter what I did to hide it with my half smirks or smiles could still be seen as the yellow stain that others dare not ask about. In fear of my response.

I feared the dentists' intense stare that reminded me, that the chair would be maneuvered into a vulnerable position, where I was no longer in control. Where my, perceived greatest assets could no longer be appreciated for those in the room. My fear would usurp my strengths. In this position, there was nowhere else to rest my gaze but up. Intimated by the knowledge of the one that held the stare that would cause me to close my eyes momentarily in my fear.

I feared the chatter that would take place when my faults and flaws would be made clear. There was a fear of hearing them say that"the damage is too great to repair." The cavity too deep to fill, the nerves too sensitive to allow for any work to take place. The only other option is to extract. I feared the sight of the needles that lay neatly stacked to the side in their see-through packaging with nothing to hide.

Dday had arrived, and my countdown has changed from days to hours to minutes out loud. The mornings' chaotic verbal clock ticking, was happening even while my 11-year daughter was running frantically around to find her retainer, dealing with her anxiety of being around the dentist.

Lost in my fears. I threw all encouraging speech out the window along with all my toys. 20 years it's been, and I was not about to let my daughter steal my countdown spotlight.

Entering into the waiting room, with a sigh of disappointment, as I noticed being greeted by that all too familiar menthol smell.
I had taken my husband and daughter along for moral support, yet I blocked out any encouraging speech from either of them. Speech that quickly turned into forms of unwelcomed, comforting jokes to lighten the mood.

Into the room, we walked and there in full view was the chair! "I am not happy to see you" I whispered, not one little bit.

Before too long, I have a bib strung around my neck, and my heads flung back and right on cue here comes the light. A few words from the dentist to coax my ahhhhh to open wide. By now I swear I'm about to pass out from sheer anxiety. My grip on the chair has turned my knuckles bright white. I'm shaking and sweating and now here comes the stare. It's a look I can remember, one I can't bear, to even try and stare her back down with any form of staunchness. So I shut my eyes and start saying my prayers. Lord give me strength and remind me why I'm here.

3mins later, the verdict was quick. "There doesn't seem to be too much damage," she said. "Just a quick clean and polish, are you ok with that"?
Am I ok with that "well heck yes, if that's it."
She replied by saying "yes that's it, it might hurt a little but I will take my time, and we will have breaks in between."

The whole chair experience took all of 30mins, and it was over.

I had just spent the best part of the past week, stressing, overanalyzing, misdiagnosing myself all based on the false information of my fear. I had managed to rope in my family into my whirlwind of complaints and had not once ever considered a different scenario, a less grim outcome. My fear had magnified all the wrong things.

And here's my take away. Too often we can treat God like the dentist. We fear coming close to him, because of all the accumulated wrongs. We approach him like I did the dentist, with fear and trepidation. Scared of the punishment and revealing of everything that was bad. We hold onto the notion that, "I will come to God when things are better." When there is less damage to see, when we are a little more well presented, yet lets face it, only a dentist can do what only a dentist can do, and there is no amount of whitening, damage control toothpaste or mouthwash that will be more beneficial than sitting in the chair of a dentist. Yes less painful but just a temporary fix. Eventually, the decay will call for more to be done.

So often we try different ways to clean ourselves up, to work at being enough outside before coming to God. So that somehow we will be more to God. When in reality God wants us to be our more.

My daughter summed it up nicely as we were driving to the dentist and she could see my apparent fear, starting to take its toll on my hands.
Mum "You shouldn't worry about it, the dentist is there to help see what may be bad to help fix it, they're not there to judge you for everything, that you think you did wrong," and you know what she was right.

Similarly, God desires to be the one who helps and guides us through the consequences of our decisions, not to punish us but to bring us out, He is not focused on heaping the shame of our past on us. He is into bridging the gap and restoring us back to Him.

Before walking out, the dentist said "see there was nothing to be scared of" I smiled and replied, "no because you made it easier for me, you made space for me to trust you."
God in His restoration of us back to Him, is not into bullying us back into a relationship with Him. Instead, He is continually creating moments and space in time for us to build our trust in Him. So that we can confidently run into His presence when the weight and fear of the decay we try to hide is too much for us to bear. Moments that say "I will take you as you are, but I love you far too much, to leave you that way."

I walked out of that clinic with the biggest, brightest smile I could muster. My whole face felt lighter than before, and for the life of me, I could not wipe my smile off.