The Cavity Conundrum

As we are in the homestretch of summer, the appointments are multiplying. I was feeling pretty confident as we knocked out well-checks and other assessments; however, I saved the most dreaded for last: the dentist appointments.

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I know dentistry is a worthwhile endeavor, and I am deeply thankful to have dental insurance and such. The problem lies not with the dentists or their profession, it lies with me. Visits to the dentist expose plumb the depths of my performance issues and approval idols.

My children brush at least twice daily and do their best to badly use those little animal flossers. They don’t drink too much juice, and only drink a Sprite on rare special occasions; yet out of three kiddos, the dentist found two cavities.

While my children took the news in stride, I was thrown by it. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it really did stir up my soul. Feelings of failure as a parent hit me like waves on the beach. Meanwhile, the dentist was finishing up the routine, and bringing out the fluoride rinse. As I was standing up to intercept her handing my youngest a little Dixie cup of chemicals, the little fella drank the elixir and proceeded to throw up all over the office and himself.  Talk about winning as a momma.

The whole scenario was equal parts humbling and humorous. The soul of a momma can be a sensitive scene, you see, and the cavities caught me on a weak day.

God is gracious to season my day-to-day life with gospel lessons. Sometimes they are subtle, sometimes they smack me in the face.

As I sat down to read and pray last night in an attempt to stop the downward spiral, the Lord taught me a timely lesson through a dear, dead Danish fella.

In his Edifying Discourses, Soren Kierkegaard unpacks his thoughts on James’ often-quoted sentence:

Every good gift and every perfect thing is from above, coming down from the  Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  James 1:17. 

As I was rolling my eyes and thinking about the cavity conundrum, I read the following convicting lines:

“Every gift is good when it is received with thanksgiving from the hand of God…You certainly understood that it was only through your thanksgiving to God that everything became for you a good and perfect gift.” 

Rather than calling the cavities expensive inconveniences or sources of shame, I tried receiving them as carriers of the gospel. They had, after all, pointed out just how deeply my identity as mother and as a human is based falsely on performance and percentages. They had also led me to some sweet prayer time that afternoon as I reminded my soul that my deepest desire for my boys and myself was not for perfection, but for the felt presence of the Lord Himself.

Let’s be real, I am still not pumped about two additional dentist appointments for fillings, and I certainly hope these will be our last cavities. That being said, I want to receive what the Lord has for me each day, including even the rare fluoride throw-up incident, with thanksgiving and laughter. Bring on round two…I think.

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