Posts tagged growing pains
The Brace-face and that Pretty Smile

In spring of 2017, I decided to get braces. It was a no-brainer for me because there is a desired look that I have for my teeth. Some have questioned why I waited “so long” to get braces, or until I was well into adulthood. My answer is the same whether they understand slang or not: “I had to get it how I live.” As a child, I wasn’t able to get them. I couldn’t afford them as a college student and was unaware of options available for students. I gained the resources as an adult so I went for it. I had to move based on what works for me. Hence the term, getting it how I live. 

I’d heard a lot of dreadful testimonies about having braces but I decided that I would get them anyway because I was fixated on the projected results. I left early from work to attend my appointment. I was nervous as crap. I wasn’t sure what to expect as it specifically related to how things would feel for me. I’ll skip a few details and say this: by the 3rd day I wanted a refund. My mouth was sore. I found myself, being the foodie that I am, frustrated because of my inability to eat anything beyond soft foods; not to mention the list of prohibited foods that I was given the day I got the braces. I called my sister, also my unofficial peer support, and whined about how tired I was of rice, grits, and applesauce and how I regretted getting the braces. I wasn’t aware that our conversation was via speakerphone and my niece was eavesdropping the entire conversation. She shouted from the background: “Auntie, just think about that pretty smile.” Which was true, the temporary, though intense pain, caused me to forget why I wanted braces in the first place. Thanks to my nieces’ two cents, I continued with the process.

It took a little while to adapt, and the 1st tightening seemed to be a setback. It felt like any progress that I’d made with adjusting to my braces and their changes were lost. And then came the 2nd and 3rd times and things didn't’ seem as bad. My gap was closing, my teeth were lining up and I was on the high road. My teeth were lining up. The braces were doing exactly what they were supposed to do: positioning my teeth to be where they should be; so, the more my teeth obey the plan, the easier wearing braces gets. Even the tightening. Of course, there are new mechanisms and devices that have to be introduced in the process that produce factors of discomfort but I can see the progress they’re making. That’s the encouraging part. As long as I can see the progress I’m okay with applesauce instead of biting directly into apples or tearing my chicken from the bone. As long as I can see the progress.

But what about when it seems that my teeth aren’t responding or my treatment is not moving along as quickly as I’d like? Oh gosh. I forgot to mention I had to get two teeth extracted. As I construct this blog entry I have a hole, in the front, on each side of my mouth. SELFIE GAME SHUT DOWN.  I felt like it was such a set back to go from cheesing in every picture to returning to the “creep smile.” You know what I’m referring to, the wide, closed-mouth smile. But that came with the process, trusting that my orthodontist is making the best decision based on the needs she has determined for me.

I’ve noticed the same pattern in my spiritual life; trusting the plan for my life and flowing with God are a sure way to gain the end results of my “pretty smile.”  I’ve further noticed that just like my teeth, the shifting is easier the more that I get in line -in line with His word, His way, and His righteousness.  

My Journey from Pampering to Perfection

Before everything begins I should probably explain that this entry is a reflection of my work in progress; thus, this entry will be as well.  I am the third of three children.  I am the baby by “ a long shot.”  Both of my siblings, a brother and sister, are significantly older than me.  My parents are very loving and supportive.  As a child, I did not want for anything.  It was like my support system was on a ten all the time: my mom and dad got me what I asked for and my sister followed up with what they did not to ensure that I was trendy (hair, nails, clothes, and etc).  As a result I became spoiled; I also became particular in that I wanted: what I wanted, when I wanted it, and how I wanted it.  At the age of 20 I wrote a 10-year plan that included my boyfriend at that time, a law degree, his job as a Spanish interpreter and children.  9 Years later I literally have none of the previously listed.  Not that that’s a bad thing. The 10-year plan was written without consulting God.  I was not born again then.  Now, I am single, a mental health professional with no children.  I am seeking God for what he will have me to do, go, help, and etc.  As I continue to grow in His grace I learn more.  One of the biggest learning experiences for me has been that of perfection: getting on the potter’s wheel; opening my heart to God exposing my wickedness, hopes, dreams, plans and giving him free reign to do what he sees fit to his vessel.  God has shown me that he wants to use me and I want it to be optimal.  I’ll admit, I had a season that I wanted to be in “ministry” so badly.  Imagine my surprise when I learned the least common denominator of true ministry is servitude.  Servitude caused me to learn other things such as selflessness and humility-neither of which have been easy for me.  My concept of getting what I want and operating within my own will are challenged daily as I strive to be perfected: letting patience have her perfect work, walking out Matthew 5:44, humbling myself in the presence of God to be exalted in his time, resisting envy,… the list goes on and on.  There are days that my carnality would have me to run to what I know to be comfortable.  Some days it’s a struggle to put one foot in front of the other in fear of what may or may not come next.  This process has provided me with a preview of what it means to trust God.  It has also taught me that it must be ongoing, it is essential, and that there is no other way.  As I continue in transparency I will admit that there are times I would like God to pamper me: respond to my calls in urgency just like my daddy would, pat me up when I’m crying-whole 9.  It's a beautiful experience in the natural.  However, in the spirit I am learning that I have to learn to wait.  I have to learn to humble myself.  I have to be disciplined. These are all factors of being a soldier.  Even as I type God has just reminded me that if my father knows how to give me good gifts, how much more does He? With that said, I’ll sign off here.