Last week my dentist yanked out two of my wisdom teeth. One of them came right out, and the other put up quite a fight. The battle was bloody, but in the end, my dentist won. However, every battle has casualties, and I am one of them.
There are two complications to the procedures I’ve had done. The first (and less painful) is what is called a Dry Socket. One of my former teeth left behind a nasty hole that isn’t healing, leaving the nerve exposed. As a result, my dentist keeps jamming metal spikes in there over and over like he was churning butter to punish that nerve for not covering itself. When he does that, he makes my mouth bleed bleed which is kind of masculine I guess. He also compresses a few inches of material into a space less than a centimeter wide. He’ll yank it out and do it again in a couple of days. It hurts pretty bad, but that isn’t the worst part.
The second complication is what I consider the collateral damage to the tooth extraction war of 2011. You see, somehow during the battle a strip of my gums was obliterated on the inside of my jawbone, exposing the actual bone towards the back of my mouth. I can honestly say this is the first time I ever touched about an inch of my exposed bone tissue with my own tongue. How many of you get to say you’ve done that? It looks like I will only have about a month or so to enjoy my bare bones until the gums apparently grow back over it. Needless to say, most people don’t generally loiter around the office with the their jawbone exposed to the open air, because it hurts. It hurts a lot, especially when I eat, drink, talk, and breathe. Exposed bone is really sensitive to any kind of external stimulus; who knew?
So what do I do with all of this pain? Well, I deal with it. I have been spending a lot of time thinking about pain over the last week. Part of that reason is that the pain keeps me up at night. That gives me time to think. I’ve been doing a lot of reading in multiple short sittings; hard to concrentrate for too long. So I deal with it by just rolling through it. Of course, I also take drugs. I’ve been popping pills in my mouth faster than a teenage drug dealer eats a bag a weed as the cops are pulling him over. I was resistant at first but when that jawbone starts throbbing I run to my pill bottle with enough vigor to make Charlie Sheen speechless. Why the drugs? Hey, don’t judge me: wait until you have bare bones sticking out of your body, and then we can talk.
I forgot to mention the bone grinding. Yeah, my dentist likes to shove his favorite cheese grater in my mouth when he sees me and takes his childhood memories out on my jaw. Somehow I took away the idea that this will help me heal faster, though the pills may be talking here. Either way, we’ve been grinding on my exposed jaw during three different sittings so far.
I’m in pain. My dentist desired to remove two teeth that needed to come out of my mouth in a hurry, and as a result I’m a literal bloody mess. The effects of removing these teeth have caused more recurring pain than the process of removal, and I’m losing sleep as a result; I’ve had to reschedule way too many good meetings because of this. I know I’m going to be better off in the long run but right now the situation is very uncomfortable. The pain affects my ability to interact with others, and causes me to make short and quick statements. I force my face to smile at home, because my son is not even two years old yet, and I don’t want him to see me frowning or groaning in pain.
Pain affects all of us in many ways. Not just evil tooth pain as a result of going to the dentist, but all pain. We experience physical pain throughout our lives. Much of the pain we experience is a result of losing something – losing hope, losing a job, losing an opportunity, losing our pride, losing a relationship, losing success, losing loved ones or facing mistreatment. In my case, it was losing two teeth (pictured above). Everyone experiences pain and all of us lose something.
God can use our pain to make us stronger; to make us better. Like my wisdom teeth, when something is removed from our world it hurts and causes other complications as a result. Like my exposed jawbone, sometimes we experience pain when all our faults seem exposed for the rest of the world to murmur about and condemn. Eventually, yet slowly, these wounds heal. Those two wisdom teeth are gone forever. When this is over, I will never have to experience their removal again.
Romans 5:3-5 tells us that we should rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that they produce endurance, which produces character, which produces hope because God’s love has been poured into us through the Holy Spirit who lives in us. The wounds heal slowly, but they produce results – ultimately that of our hope in Jesus, in a better life spent with Him. After all, it is Jesus who removes our sin so that we can be made whole again. We are also told in the Book of James that these sufferings will eventually leave us lacking in nothing, even though we may be losing something. God promises better things than the pain we suffer now. Stay strong and don’t quit when faced with trials. Endure.
Is there something in your life that needs to be lost for good? Are you stalling what needs to happen because you know it is definitely going to hurt? It is time to lose what needs to go in order for you to be made whole. You’re going to be better off in the long run once you stand up and take care of business.