And it all transpired in a chair.
A reclining chair, in fact, with me staring at the ceiling trying to distract myself with a FOX News broadcast while my mouth was wrenched open and held that way by a little blue stretchy tarp. Whoa!
Did I ever feel vulnerable and at the mercy of my dentist and his assistant.
The back story to my experience yesterday is that some twenty-five plus years ago I cracked a tooth eating a popcorn kernel. Which led to a crown which led to eventually cracking the whole tooth which led to requiring a permanent bridge with which I’ve made peace with for these past twenty-five plus years. Until six months ago, that is, when an x-ray revealed a tiny dark spot and I heard the words I never wanted to hear. “Your bridge has to come off.”
I mean, this piece of porcelain has been tightly affixed to my other teeth for so many years I could only imagine the muscle it would take to yank it off.
So, you can imagine the mental picture I’ve been playing off/on in my mind for the past few months (fret and worry) as I contemplated going through this awful procedure (with my eyes wide open.)
Well, I decided I wanted to head off the evil twins (fret and worry) that have plagued me for years prior to any medical procedure by intentionally filling my mind with thoughts that calmed me rather than railroaded me into anxiety.
As I started rereading a favorite book of mine, I ran across a powerful essay by C.H. Spurgeon written way back in the 1800’s….which I noted to myself…that all people in all times and all places struggle with the evil twins of fret and worry. Always have, always will.
Here’s what got my attention —
Many of God’s people are constantly under apprehensions of calamities which will never occur to them, and they suffer far more in merely dreading them than they would have to endure if they actually came upon them. In their imagination, there are rivers in their way, and they are anxious to know how they shall wade through them, or swim across them. There are no such rivers in existence, but they are agitated and distressed about them…They stab themselves with imaginary daggers, they starve themselves in imaginary famines, and even bury themselves in imaginary graves. Such strange creatures are we that we probably smart more under blows which never fall upon us than we do under those which actually do come. The rod of God does not smite us as sharply as the rod of our own imagination does; our groundless fears are our chief tormentors.
The main takeaway for me here is simple.
Fretting and worrying force me to go through what I’m dreading many times before what I’m dreading has actually happened. And…often, never does come to pass.
So, armed with this reminder, I kept reminding myself of several truths.
First, my dentist is highly skilled (and has never hurt me.)
Second, I didn’t have a choice about whether or not to have this procedure done (so I had better accept it.)
Third, I considered the worst possible scenario (that the anesthetic wouldn’t work and I would feel those nerves being removed. And I realized no matter what…I wasn’t alone in that chair.) Deep exhale.
In case I didn’t explain the significance of this realization, remember a simple truth. If you’ve never experienced physical pain then you really don’t fear it. Once you’ve felt it (as I did some twenty-five years ago when the nerves in my janky tooth wouldn’t be calmed) you have a very different perspective. A rather frightening one.
So for me, yesterday was a victory of sorts given my prior history. And now, even though I’m only one-third of the way through this lengthy procedure, I’m resting easy. Best of all, in this situation at least, I’ve banished those evil twins from taking up residence in my heart and mind because I’ve stopped calculating without God.