I have to go to the dentist in the morning. I become apprehensive every time I think about it. That’s partly because I’m afraid of getting shots in my mouth. I don’t believe their lies for a second—it isn’t “a little pressure.” It is the wrenching of my mouth into positions it was never made to be in, followed by the jamming and wriggling of a sharp needle into my sensitive gums.
That being said, the real fear is that of dental professionals seeing the condition of my mouth. It has been far too long since my last visit. (I don’t care to say how long.) Regular brushing and flossing only go so far. I know it’s a mess in there and, frankly, I’m just embarrassed. I’ve used lack of dental coverage (though I didn’t go even when I had it) as an excuse for some time, but I can’t anymore. The well being of my teeth will now be paid for; I no longer have justification to put off what I should have taken care of long ago. So, at 8:20 tomorrow morning, I suffer humiliation and begin scheduling what will probably be a series of procedures.
And if that isn’t enough to ruin my evening, I’ve noticed something not so flattering about myself in all this. When I remember which chair I will be sitting in tomorrow AM, I feel a level of agitation that actually makes my heart beat a little faster—it consumes my attention until I make myself think about something else.
I don’t know if I could honestly say that I normally experience that kind of turmoil when I’ve been sucking spiritually. When I’ve “put off” seeking God for so long that my passion wanes. When I let fear keep me from giving my all for his Kingdom. When a dental appointment grieves me more than the knowledge that loved ones are suffering or living every day without the hope that Jesus offers. If I care enough to notice spiritual complacency at all, I’m just as likely to be a little annoyed or disappointed as I am to be grieved or compelled to action.
And yet, I am so bothered by people in scrubs looking at my teeth that a huge part of me wants to cancel the morrow’s appointment and yell, “bring on the dentures!”
I think the difference is that my lack of regular dental check-ups will be exposed. There’s nothing I can do to cover that up. But, in other ways, I’m a good bluffer. Most people won’t know when I’ve been spiritually remiss. Those who go without love, kindness, encouragement, or accountability because I refused to invest will never be able to point the finger at me.
So, it boils down to this… A dental hygienist and a DDS will gaze on my cavities and know that I have been remiss—and I care. God gazes on my apathetic heart—and I don’t?