The day arrived. The day I had dreaded for more than a decade. The day I would have all my wisdom teeth ripped from my delicate, pink gums – in the chair, no less, and without sedation. People said, “You’ll be fine!” “The recovery is quick!” and “Get it over and done with!”
Some particularly good advice saw me taking earphones and a good music mix, something to drown out the sound of the jackhammer, or whatever they call those instruments of… dental remedy. I should’ve chosen heavy metal. I chose The Loft Sessions (Bethel).
I felt good. Ten years and two experiences of childbirth felt like sufficient preparation. As a friend said to me, “Having problem teeth pulled has been so much less traumatic than the pain of having them remain.”
Why is that? Why do we get so cosy and comfortable with pain? Why do we get so used to living with shackles, to the point where we forget what it is to be free? We hug that pain and imprisonment close because it’s familiar and perhaps because we know there will be some discomfort involved in the extraction of it from our lives.
I’m not talking teeth any more.
I’ve learnt that the past can have such a hold over our lives and that it’s possible to press on through each day without even knowing that we have access to greater freedom. We think we’re already free.
Are you free?
Not to say we should all start wallowing in the past, dredging up old muck to sieve through. But there are two particular things that I’m keeping an eye out for, making sure they have no resting place in my past.
I didn’t even realise I held unforgiveness in my heart towards a loved-one due to stuff that happened way back in my teens. The Holy Spirit surfaced it recently. I prayed he would open my eyes to any issues of unforgiveness, and He did. It hurt to admit it, and saying those words:
…well, it was like pulling teeth! But there has been an inexplicable freedom and I’ve seen this particular relationship (which I wouldn’t have said was particularly bad beforehand) flourish, reach a new freedom. A wall came down.
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
– Mark 11:25
Secondly: Hidden sin.
It’s ridiculous really, to think there are things we can hide from God. God who knows all, sees all, IS all. Denying that unspeakable sin happened or still happens builds a wall between us and God, and it makes us slaves to sin.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
– Galatians 5:1
Sometimes I fall into the trap of stereotyping God as this scary dude in the clouds who wants us to feel guilt and condemnation. Lies! Such lies.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
– Isaiah 1:18
I’m lying in the chair and the dentist (lovely bloke) is coming at me with needles and drills and other things I can only guess at because my eyes are tightly shut and the music in my ears turned progressively louder. My thumb is on the volume control. I’m trying to remember to breathe.
And it’s uncomfortable. It’s painful. It’s a little horrific. And it’s comical, when I eventually look at my swollen face and bloody smile in the mirror. But I’m so glad to have it done, finished. I’m freed of the impending, of recurring infections and issues, you see?
Just as, when the Holy Spirit gently ministers to us, bringing unforgiveness or sin into the light, we have the opportunity of a freedom we might not have experienced before. Don’t you want a piece of that? I do. I can join my friend’s dental sentiment in saying, “Having problem teeth (bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, hatred…) pulled has been so much less traumatic than the pain of having them remain.”
God is so good. My heart is full of praise for Him. It feels a little strange to be listening to worship music as teeth are ripped from my mouth, and I’m not sure if the dentist and his assistants can hear it and are thinking whacko thoughts of me. But I don’t mind. Think away, because God is so good. And it’s all over, problem teeth in a metal dish, by the sixth song on the album: You Know Me.
“Nothing is hidden from Your sight
Wherever I go, You find me
You know every detail of my life
You are God and You don’t miss a thing.”