Truth of the Tooth

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We all have things that really gross us out. With me, this is loose teeth! These wiggly little pieces of enamel make me quiver in my skin as soon as I see them hanging slightly off center in a child’s mouth. I work in an elementary school, so you can just imagine how many loose teeth I see in the run of a year. One time I actually turned in disgust and ran into a filing cabinet. Not my proudest moment as a teacher, but this is how bad they make my flight or fight mechanism kick in!  I just want to get out of any area with a loose tooth!
Lately, I was in the cafeteria doing duty, roaming around the tables of small children, when I overheard one little boy say to another, “Just close your eyes, hold your breath, now pull down on it a little bit, and twist it. It will come right out…Isn’t that cool, it’s like magic!” Oh! My! Goodness! My legs got weak and out of the corner of my eye I saw one little boy with his eyes pinched shut, mouth open wide and his fingers in his mouth. The other little boy was down with his face almost in the other guy’s mouth like a dentist doing surgery. My stomach took a turn, and I again, bolted for safety on the other side of the cafeteria.
Why would this bother me so bad you may be wondering? I have absolutely no clue. Maybe because I hated the feeling in my own mouth when I was a child when my tooth was hanging by a thread of root. I honestly don’t know.
When I look at the miracle of teeth, it really is amazing. Think about it! At first, it’s painful, and always on your mind when you have a tooth in your head that is loose. You can’t bite into an apple or anything hard because that area of your mouth is weakened from the roots letting go of the tooth. Your mouth sometimes feels helpless. You have to push food over onto the other side of your mouth just to chew it. This could go on for weeks, even months when you are losing a few teeth all at once.
Then you lose the tooth, and are left with a big gaping hole in your mouth…sometimes two, which leaves a big open space. You can’t see the grown-up teeth, but you are told they will grow in. How can you believe in something that you can’t see? Adults tell children the teeth are there, and they just believe us.
This is much the same as whenever you’ve been put through an unfortunate situation in your life. Maybe you are feeling agony in your life over something that has happened that was out of your control, or maybe you’ve done something that you regret…think of it just like a loose tooth. Sure, it is painful for a while, and that is all you can think about. You might even have to avoid certain situations, people, or places for a while. You feel weak and volatile…even violated perhaps. It’s very uncomfortable and you just want the pain to be over as quickly as possible.
You feel like there is a huge void in your life. You don’t think you can go on without what you’ve been used to having. It’s out of the normal. People tell you to be patient, and wait. Trust. Everything happens for a reason. Some people might even tell you to pray about it, but how can you pray to something you can’t see? How can you trust that something good is going to come out of something so horrible? How can people believe in God?
Hang in there. Over time, the loose, uncomfortable, weak tooth does fall out and then a bigger, stronger and comfortable tooth replaces the empty space that the old baby tooth left. Just like in life. If we wait long enough, and bare the horrible feeling that that loose, wiggly, white Chiclet produced, and wait out the pain, we are blessed with a new, improved stronger version. Sure, for a period of time you were lost without this baby tooth and didn’t know what you were going to do without it, until you finally get the new stronger tooth. Then it all makes sense.
I love the teaching in Romans 8:26-28, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Waiting patiently in our weakness for God to unfold his grand plans is difficult for many. Unlike the loss of a baby tooth, we know that the other tooth is coming. When we have losses in our lives, they are difficult to see what good is going to come out of it, it is extremely difficult to understand that the Spirit has great plans for us and we just have to trust in his love and wait for the unveiling. It’s as miraculous as the strong new tooth that forms and develops inside our jaws without us seeing it happen, but does take time.

Please, take the advice from the little dude in my cafeteria…Close your eyes, hold your breath, (say a prayer) and wait for the magic to happen! It’s amazing what fortune we can get out of an unfortunate situation!

~Toby Hale

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