There is nothing that terrifies me more than having to go to the dentist. The emotions it invokes are dread, guilt and anxiety. I want to avoid it at all costs regardless if they come highly recommended. Or if a friend can testify that they are good and reputable. My feelings remain the same.
Why? Because I am projecting an old hurt on a new day.
How do I do that? By taking an old wound of my past and bringing it back up front and center. Reliving the same emotions I did then and re-experiencing the same pain.
For the last several weeks, I‘ve had a toothache. I had hoped it would just go away. But tooth pain doesn’t just disappear unless you do something about it. So, I had to go to a dentist.
But I recall the cruel dentist I had as a child. He was mean and abusive. If tears were falling, he’d yell at me and take his hand and backhand my arm to knock it off. He treated me rough and unkind. Therefore, I consider all the dentists the same. They are out to hurt me. And because I do not like pain, I try to avoid them.
Yet I had reached the point I couldn’t tell which tooth even hurt. I was swollen and sure that I had an infection. And then the unrelenting thoughts…..I can’t afford it because I don’t have dental insurance, I will be scolded for not flossing enough, or made to feel less than for not caring for my teeth the way they say I should.
I began to see a similarity in how I deal with relationships:
· I don’t like confrontation so I avoid it at all costs.
· I project old hurts on a new day.
· I think everyone feels the same as me.
· Heartache doesn’t just go away unless you do something about it.
Finally, from immense pain and desperation I went to the dentist. She was kind and gentle. She explained everything in easy terms. She even apologized for my childhood dentist and the fear he had invoked. She explained the source of my pain. Due to changes in the structure of my gums a crown needed to be replaced. It no longer fit correctly and bacteria was allowed to get underneath. Another molar with a crack in it was also allowing in bacteria. Additionally, an old filling needed to be replaced.
She explained the reason for flossing. Plaque is caused by bacteria from food and saliva that collects on your teeth every day. Plaque damages your teeth and gums because it can cause periodontal disease, gingivitis and cavities. When not removed everyday it will harden into tartar.
Again, I thought of the similarities of relationships:
· We allow offenses to cause pain.
· We don’t do what we need to do immediately.
· We let time lapse and the damage intensifies.
· Neglect causes more harm.
Because of that we have to do more work to try and fix the problem. Many times we need to replace broken pieces. Or drill out old injuries and fault finding.
And like a visit to the dentist, we can be forced to stop in our tracks and seek healing. At that point start today what we should have done before. Clean out the plaque of a hardened heart.
A happy heart makes a face cheerful. Proverbs 15:13