I’m weird. I actually like going to the dentist. I spent a lot of time in the dentist chair growing up. A family friend was my dentist as a kid, so having a familiar face, I think made going to the dentist easier. My teeth came in perfectly when I was little, which cause concern for my parents, knowing that when I lost my baby teeth, I wouldn’t have such a perfect smile.
They were right.
I had a lot of teeth pulled. Some unnecessarily, which caused issues. Right around the time I was hitting puberty, I got glasses and braces. I know, you couldn’t ask for a better time for THE STRUGGLE to happen, but it is what is.
I had braces for 4 years and didn’t hit my high school glow-up until after my sophomore year, once I got them off. People would comment all the time on my beautiful smile and let me tell you–I loved to smile.
I wore my retainer religiously. I knew my parents paid a lot of money to straighten my teeth and I wasn’t going to screw it up. But as I got to college, still wearing my retainer at night, my teeth just kept moving. (I fault my orthodontist)
I started to become self conscious of my smile, which I hadn’t for the longest time. I was embarrassed my parents had spent all this money on my “perfect” smile, yet I didn’t see that when I looked in the mirror. Shortly after I got my first official adult job, I noticed that I would get a discount on orthodontia with my health insurance, so I shopped around for a new orthodontist to fix my smile. I found one a couple weeks later–I was on a deadline to get braces again before I turned 24, which felt a lot like turning back to a pumpkin. I opted to get metal braces because they were cheaper and it’d only be two years. I also got four teeth pulled straight out of my jaw, a move I didn’t initially choose, but it was clear a couple months in, I would need the procedure. You know that badass scene from one of the first episodes of Alias, where the Chinese guy is pulling one of Sydney’s molars out as a form of torture? Yeah, it was like that, except, I didn’t have any top secrets I was holding, but I’d like to think I was embodying Jennifer Gardner in that hour long procedure because I’m tough.
During those two years, I was the most uncomfortable in my skin. I can look back on pictures now and see because I would rarely flash a big smile–I’d just smile with my mouth closed. It was a learning experience for sure. My orthodontist was amazing, always complimenting me on taking care of my teeth. I’m sure it was refreshing for him since most of his patients were 9 year olds. I can’t tell you how excited I was to get them off two years later. That was my second glow-up.
Recently, I noticed my teeth had moved a bit, so I started wearing my retainer again at night. If you can remember the pain of putting in an old retainer in, it’s not fun. But I can already tell my teeth are getting back to their original place. Years ago, my orthodontist told me because of my teeth, I’ll always need a bit of an adjustment.
I’m almost a month into turning 30 and I don’t feel much wiser. The last year has been TOUGH. Things that I thought would be easier, or have more of an understanding of, well, let’s just say 2019 is one for the record books. Even the beginning of 2020 has been…something. Maybe you can relate.
The other day, I had a conversation with someone at work. It was just supposed to be a short catch up meeting about a project, but it turned into a two-hour conversation that spoke so much life into me. I had called my mom that night, asking for a recipe and as I was telling her about this conversation, she said that she believed that conversation was a God-send. I was almost brought to tears.
This stage of life that I’m in has been the most difficult I’ve experienced. It’s been the most lonely, the darkest, the most filled with anxiety and a lot of questions with few answers. My mom told me that every day she prays for God to make His will known in my life. (I know, I’m weeping by now…) This life stage has just been incredibly frustrating. Today, I was talking to someone else today, someone I barely know, literally. She asked how I was doing and I just dove in deep. We talked about where were both were for about 10 minutes and it was so refreshing to speak to another person who just got it. This isn’t to say the current people in my life don’t, but these last two conversations have just been, unexpected, in the best way possible.
As I was eating some popcorn for dinner, trying not to kill my teeth (don’t judge me, it’s a staple meal for this single girl), I thought “God is like my orthodontist.” He’s like this person who I go visit often for a check up, in this case, a checkup of my heart. He helps me make adjustments in my life and sometimes I don’t see them until weeks later. That’s what I think these recent conversations have been: adjustments. Where they help me refocus my sights on Jesus. They remind me that I’m not alone. They help me adjust my attitude, my perspective, my direction. My purpose. His will in my life (like my mom’s prayer).
I know this stage of life that I’m in is just for me to be in right now. I can’t rush out of it, no matter how painful and frustrating it is. I have to do the work. I have to be present. I have to figure out how to adjust my diet, my habits, my focus, much like I had to when I had braces (both times) because at the end of this “treatment” I know, it’ll all be worth it. Call it hindsight 20/20, but I know I will be able to look back and say “I went through that for this reason.”
So I’ll continue to be faithful in visiting my Orthodontist. I’ll be faithful in doing the work of taking care of my teeth, even if I have to spend more time flossing because of the brackets (do you remember how time consuming threading each piece of floss through your brackets were?) are somewhat of a barrier, they’re doing the work for my future smile, or in this specific case, my future.