Friday, April 14, 2017

That Something Broken Between God and Me

God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are.
~Dallas Willard

Everyone has felt let down by God some time in his or her life, but the trial is not the condition that caused the feeling: the trial is what we choose to do with it. The majority of people either become embittered against God for the rest of their lives or consider it God's punishment against them. Fewer see it as we probably should: we are living in a fallen, imperfect, sin-filled world along with evil, so there are disease, destruction, decay, deterioration, degeneration, and death.

I have been struggling with an expectation I had on my Lord for several years and it was not an unreasonable expectation of the Almighty! However, it was left unfulfilled and I allowed it to cause a brokeness between us, one of my own making admittedly. Every time I have prayed for the last few years, I have this festering thought in the back of my mind. Every time I have prayed for others to be healed, I was harassed by thoughts of "why not me" or "like I should pray for someone to be healed when I am unworthy to be healed myself" and other such thoughts. Some would blame Satan for those whisperings in my mind, but these were my own doubts springing forth from their hiding places that I did not want to admit I had, not even to myself.

I have such wonderful stories of healings in my family. My aunt was developing so many floaters in her eyesight that it was predicted she would be blind by the time she was 30 and God healed her. God not only broke my uncle's addiction to smoking a pipe, but also the lingering smell on himself and their home! Things like that were just kind of accepted but without expectation in their home. However, not everything in their lives was wonderful and they never expected everything to be. My aunt eventually needed glasses and my uncle developed a small spot of cancer on his tongue decades later. That is the way of it; healing does not mean healed forever. Even in with healing victories, we still live in a sin-damaged world.

God did a very big miracle for me when I was just about the age my daughter is right now. I was camping with my aunt, uncle and cousins, as they always tried to take a camping trip for a week before school started. I had a dream that was so real that I wished so much that it was real: my teeth were straight. I woke up moving my tongue along my teeth and they felt straight...but only for that moment. Then the reality that they were not plunged my hopes into the ground and I just wept and prayed this: "God please straighten my teeth." I heard without any hesitation, "I will." Now I had experienced encounters with God before that night, but not one that struck me as a promise that He made specifically to me for something I wanted.

Even though I was just 16 years old and not long on patience, I never doubted it for even a moment that He would do it, but I reminded him of His promise for nearly a year before I found out how He was going to do it. Unknown to me, my aunt had approached our dentist, who had known me from the first time I had a baby tooth that would not come out on its own, probably because my teeth were so crooked and crowded. He knew my mouth was a mess, but I came from a very poor family, and my aunt and uncle had not much to spare after taking me in with their own four children. So, my dentist asked his orthodontic friends to look at my case, knowing we could not afford braces.

One look and I was told I had the worse case they had ever seen and they were not even sure that they could help me. They said that I had nearly everything wrong with my mouth but the opposite of it, as in you cannot have an over bite and an under bite at the same time. They took my case pro bono and my dentist did all my dental work for free as well during the time I had braces, which was a long time...I think it was nearly five years in braces and then a year in a retainer and then another year in my retainer at night. I would have kept wearing my retainer at night but my dog had gotten a hold of it and I could not get the orthodontist to replace it. How I wish I had pursued that more!

Teeth will move...I was warned....and they did, but they looked straight until sometime after I had my daughter. Slowly I again developed an overbite and then one tooth in the front dropped and then one in the back also on the top got a gum infection once. The tooth dropped due to bone loss and the back tooth, which has been loose, had far more bone loss even though my gums looked healthy. My dentist even told me that it is nothing I am doing wrong because my dental hygiene is very good, but even so I have accepted that God is not miraculously healing me and probably both of these teeth will need to be removed and have implants replace them.

So, this week I had a consultation with the same oral surgeon I had picked to remove the Princess' impacted wisdom teeth, when they are further along as he recommended and possibly four other teeth if her orthodontist decides that needs to be done, as he said she is borderline on the crowding. The oral surgeon took a look at my x-rays and asked if I had had braces, probably easily deduced because I am missing four teeth. Then he asked if they had used a palette spreader...now I am impressed! How could he know that?

Well, it comes down to this. The palette speader is braced on four teeth and you are given a key to insert in the middle to give it a half turn every day so that it spreads out the palette, because my palette was too narrow. The preferred method, at least now, is to surgically do this (although many orthodontists still are using that method). Why? Because afterward the teeth tilt back in towards the mouth and that is how he could tell I had that done. So the teeth look straight on the outside, but they actually tilt inward.

Now I knew my upper teeth in particular had moved in ways that I did not like, but after seeing the my excellent hygiene care and the condition of my gums although with some periodontal pockets, he could only attribute the bone loss to problems he was seeing to my bite. So, I also need to see a periodontist but the oral surgeon said to talk to the orthodontist first and he will coordinate what needs to be done and in what order, so that everything is prepared for starting orthodontics.

Fortunately the orthodontist had an opening the very next day so I went. He asked me what my goal was and I said to save my teeth, because if my bite was the problem as I had been told by his friend the oral surgeon, then I had more problems to come with my teeth in the future if I did not correct the bite. The orthodontist said I have an open bite and that ideally upper jaw surgery would be the best corrective procedure. I was asked if the oral surgeon suggested it, which I do not think he did and we discussed the next best option. The second best option would be to work with the jaw as it is to give me the best bite possible and take the extra stress off the back teeth, which are the only teeth really making contact for chewing presently. That would put me in braces for about a year and a half. I was going with that option until I talked to my husband, who was considering the first option to be the better one.

So, I am taking a look into the the jaw surgery and may need to talk to the oral surgeon again to see if my case is borderline or would be necessary. It would solve a number of problems for me including some TMJ, but it is a pretty intense surgery and can leave numbness in the upper lip, cheeks, and nose for months. It also adds time to being in braces, because the braces have to be in place before the surgery, but thankfully there is no wiring the mouth shut, just rubber bands to hold everything in place.

Also the orthodontist was thinking that he might try to work with the tooth that had dropped down in the front. It was just slightly loose and even though teeth do not really move back up much, he thought that the two middle front teeth could move down some and it up some, and maybe it would not be completely even but still good. He was the first one to not say pull it and do an implant automatically, although the oral surgeon did not give an option saying to talk to the orthodontist first.

The orthodontist is kind of like the conductor of this whole thing. When teeth are removed, when implants can be placed, when jaw surgery should be done (if I go that route), and so forth. However, the first thing is to see a periodontist, because while my gums look healthy pink, I have a few pockets and gum loss to deal with first before anything else...well, accept for the one tooth that cannot be saved. It seems that my the oral surgeon and the periodontist both can pull the tooth and place a bone graph, so the question is who to do that which is probably next.

Considering everything I am going to have to do, the funny thing is I actually feel very relieved. I have been feeling that I had been given this wonderful gift 40 years ago and I messed it up. I did not always take care of my teeth as well as I should have, but there was this overwhelming guilt so bad that I did not want anyone to know. I felt terribly ashamed to say that I ever had braces, because my teeth sure did not look like it now. Their present condition was not a good testament of the gift God had given me. However, now I know that my former orthodontists had done the best with their knowledge at the time and open bite jaw problem as it was.

And, here is the thing that really warms my heart. A few weeks ago, I was trying to pray with that wedge of guilt about my teeth and letting God down...and feeling unloved between us because he had not healed me still. I do not remember now what I was praying about exactly but I think it was along the lines of my husband and his mother and that whole situation—whatever it was I do know it was not directly related to me or my teeth—and I heard my Lord say "I am going to bless you," as plainly and as clearly as when He said "I will" 40 years ago.

I did not really know what He meant at the time, but considering how much all this dental work is going to cost us...well, the timing is pretty good for that part. (Although who ever wants to spend money on things like this?) I feel a bit guilty about the cost, but also wildly relieved, which I find rather odd. Ever since the Princess has gotten her braces, I have been so excited for her and even a bit envious thinking I how would love to go into braces again (strange as that may seem), but I knew that it would be far more complicated and costly for me (and I did not even know the half of it). I have been weighing that with my age and its worth. However, now that it seems the bone loss will continue because of my bite, that I could lose more bone and more teeth, and all of that is not really associated with how well I am taking care of my teeth, I feel so much better. I actually teared up when I was talking to the oral surgeon, not because of the work I dreaded to have done as I thought I would when I went there, but because I was doing everything I could and he could see that and found the likely cause and this could save my other teeth.

Yeah, I am feeling rather blessed—and loved—right now. My Lord and I will be going through this together...again.

My Lord, just days ago I was weeping in my heart, feeling unloved by You. I knew that was wrong, which only made me feel worse. Today, I am weeping with joy because I now see the special gift you had been holding for me in secret until now. You are a such a good Father. Thank you.

5 comments:

  1. I always think of Todd White's testimony. If you haven't heard it it's one I think you would enjoy. ☺

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    1. You already know that I love Todd White. Which part? Are you referring to when he had knee surgery and people were being healed in the rehab center while he was still in pain himself?

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  2. No. The 9 months when his wife wouldn't go out in public with him because he prayed for healing for everyone he met ~ & nothing happened! Then one day... ☺

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    1. I guess I missed the part where his wife would not go out with him in public...but I can believe it because there is just no holding that man back.

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  3. I think this is the one...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O85gixNSMaQ

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.