A Visit to the Dentist

I have a dentist appointment this morning. I have a very small cavity that must be filled. They found that cavity before I ever felt a symptom. It’s not causing me problems now, but if I don’t let them fill it I’ll have more problems down the road.

Time for a confession here—I went for a number of years without going to the dentist. I hated the thought of going. I practice good dental hygiene. I wasn’t experiencing any trouble. Why should I go to the time and expense of going to the dentist? Well, that was my thought process, anyway.

A few years ago I made the decision that I really needed to make sure that I get those standard annual (or bi-annual) checkups that medical experts are always suggesting. My first trip to the dentist after all those years wasn’t as bad as I thought. One thing that helped was that I explained my fears and issues before we got started. That allowed the hygienist and the dentist to be sensitive to my concerns.

A couple of things came to mind this morning as I was preparing for my day. First, things often aren’t as bad as we anticipate. We can work things up in our minds until they’re really big and scary. It’s only by setting those fears aside and moving forward that we are able to reap the benefits of whatever action we’re taking. I’m known among my friends for saying, “Just pull up your big girl panties and deal with it.” I found out recently that it’s sort of Biblical. In Job 38:3a (NAS), it says, “Gird your loins like a man.” Sometimes that’s what it takes.

The other thing that came to mind was how important it is to take care of things while they’re still small and manageable. In every area of my life it’s important for me to occasionally take stock. I need to check things out to make sure they’re just exactly like they should be. My little cavity is just a shadow on an x-ray right now. If I don’t take care of it, though, I could eventually lose that tooth. As a matter of fact, decay could affect the surrounding if it’s not kept in check. I could eventually lose more teeth. While I’m not excited about getting that cavity filled this morning, I prefer that to losing a tooth or two down the road.

My pastor talks about making sure you’re not even just a little bit off track spiritually because down the road that path can take you way off into left field. If we just coast along without evaluating the soundness of our spiritual health, our physical health, our mental health, our marriage, our family, our career, and even our friendships, it’s possible for any one of those to go awry.

So, as I head off to the dentist this morning I’ll be taking stock of some of the other areas of my life. I’m hoping it will keep my mind off what the dentist will be doing.

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