Friday, April 26, 2013

Conquering Fear

I was terrified of the next morning. I had scheduled both a teeth cleaning and a refilling of a large cavity and then crown on a back tooth. I have very sensitive teeth, and the last few dental visits had been very painful. Finally, I left that particular dental practice and returned to the dentist we had originally had, who I liked, but our insurance hadn't covered for a period.

I slept almost not at all the night before. However, I prayed without ceasing. I prayed for everyone The Lord brought to my mind, and when you are up all night, lots of folks parade through your head. When I settled into the dentist chair, I had my strategy laid out. First I informed them I was very scared and a horrid patient with very sensitive teeth. What did they intend to do about it?

The hygienist, who looked the age of my daughter, calmly assured me she had very gentle hands, and it would not hurt. Then she set to work, but only after I reminded her to use their special numbing gel. Then, I began reciting the 23rd psalm in my head. I got stuck on "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." I forced myself to move on, and then began picturing the animals that the Good Shepherd would be protecting in the fields. I thought of sheep, of course, but then moved on to imagining all sorts of soft, furry, cuddly, comforting creatures. I spent a good amount of time contemplating alpacas with their gentle huge eyes and fluffy long mop of hair atop their heads. I utilized this same technique during the crown work. Two and a half hours later, I was released to the world, a free woman, without having endured anything remotely unbearable! The hygienist gave me prescription strength ibuprofen, though I told her I don't do drugs. She told me it would be wise to take them, as the shot in my lower jaw goes into muscle and she said I would be quite sore. My jaw was already aching, though still partially numbed, so I took the drugs.

It is amazing what a different perspective on life one has when one has endured something scary or painful- and lived through it. It makes me appreciate simple things like sunshine on the pavement, pink cherry blossoms clumped together on the grass, the breeze against my (still numb) cheek. I felt grateful for the surcease of fear, for the absence of pain.

No one relishes fear or pain, but there can be great gain enduring either. First, you learn you *can*, and secondly you learn to lean on God a little harder when you are certain you can't. I suspect that is one of the reasons God makes us go through suffering. Additionally, the beauty of the mundane registers with a new brilliance when you make it to the other side of the fear and the pain. The contrast is spectacular.

I wonder if my new appreciation for simple humdrum life will last all the way till next week when I have to have a second crown done?

Job 5:17-19 (NIV)
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. [18] For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal. [19] From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you.

-save a dog-

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