However, I still have to face these fears every now and then. I get regular blood work done for health reasons. And I even visit the dentist on a normal(ish) basis. And while I always dread going to the dentist, I seem to always walk away with something that makes my life better.
As a kid, I would get a toy and a new toothbrush. As a teen, I loved the taste of the teen cleaning gel. As an adult, I was relieved from the pain of my wisdom teeth. And there was one time when I even left with some good advice, even though I didn’t understand at the time.
As my dentist was all up in my business, casually making small talk while both of his hands were inside of my face, he would occasionally give me a tip about tooth care. He mentioned flossing, and brushing, and other things I don’t remember because I wanted to be anywhere but there. But the one specific thing I remember is that he said, “If you ever see your gums bleeding, that means you need to brush your teeth more often and more thoroughly.”
I gave a muffled, “Okay,” as I just tried to move the conversation along. And then I started thinking about how that is the opposite of what I would think. If something is bloody and painful, shouldn’t I leave it alone? If I have a wound, shouldn’t I let it heal? That seems like backward logic. But hey, he’s the dentist so I’ll have to take his word.
That same principle also applies to our spiritual health. Any time we have a painful memory, a troubling sin, or a deep spiritual conflict that plagues us, our immediate reaction is to avoid it. We try to run from the pain and focus on growth in other areas. We try to let our wounds heal without ever giving them the attention that they need. By trying to “leave it alone,” we end up chaining ourselves to these issues and making it impossible to move on.
Just like brushing bleeding gums may cause temporary pain, it will be difficult for us to take these issues head on and deal with them directly. But if we ever want the bleeding to stop, if we want these chains to be broken so that we can run freely toward God and His will for us, we must address the pain at its core. We must share our struggles with our Christian brothers and sisters, spend time in difficult prayer, confess our transgressions, offer forgiveness, and ultimately hand our pain over to God. We cannot defeat it. But He already has.
Wow…I must have a really good dentist.