I’ll be nice and relaxed by the time we return from five sunny days in Florida–That was my thought when scheduling my appointment with a new dentist and a new hygienist.
Come to find out…relaxed may never again describe my state of mind in a dentist’s chair. After my root canal debacle in October 2013, I’ve been a bit sensitive to anyone or anything poking around in my mouth. Chopstix beware.
I arrived at the new dental office, thinking I was ready for the new hygienist’s efforts at plaque removal, gum-health assessment, and x-rays. 1 ½ hours later, my mouth was still wide open, utensils still probing, scraping, tugging, and my daily migraine had reached epic proportions. The hygienist asked in an all-too-perky voice, “So, how has your dental cleaning been today?”
- First of all, her hands were in my mouth, so how was I supposed to answer?
- Second, the visit had been painful, too long, and my gums were on fire—but I was entirely too much of a people-pleasing coward to admit it.
- Third—and this one tipped the proverbial scale—the last hour-and-a-half had been the longest I’d sat still for three months! I’d been sprinting from one deadline to the next appointment to the following conference to another meeting.
I’d reached my limit. Done. Finished. Couldn’t handle one more minute of happy-faced, everything’s-fine, namby-pamby, Christian nice-girl. I started to cry. Right there while that poor hygienist was flossing my bleeding gums! She didn’t even notice until I snuffled and nearly sucked her hands down my throat.
Then, she was absolutely mortified. Apologizing profusely, she promptly turned on the massage function on the dental chair.
A little late, Sister.
I would have been happy to explain the reason for my tears (see three points listed above), but I was sobbing by now. Yep–boo-hoo, can’t-catch-my-breath kind of sobbing. IN THE DENTIST’S OFFICE!!!! Not my finest moment.
Like Jehosheba and Others
While I sat in that dental chair trying to collect myself, I thought of Jehosheba in In the Shadow of Jezebel. I’d written her scenes from personal experience with emotional breakdowns. Though never hospitalized, I suffered from postpartum depression and have wrestled with anxiety and depression throughout my adult years.
Readers often ask me how to write realistic characters. Well, the trick is…live it first.
- Job struggled with God because of his friends’ betrayal, chronic illness, and feelings of self-doubt.
Yep, been there.
- Solomon battled constantly with selfish ambition and being distracted from his True Love.
I hate that about myself.
- Gomer resolved while being raped never again to be ruled by men, and she constantly fought feelings of failure as a mother.
Very painful memories.
- Jehosheba battled lingering feelings of fear and weakness when facing the world.
She would have cried in that dentist’s chair, too.
Sometimes Darkness Lingers
I left the dentist’s office on Friday afternoon and went home. After thirty years of marriage, my precious hubby recognizes the signs. He asked if he could help. I said “no,” and he didn’t press.
For two days, the darkness lingered. Relatively short–as darkness goes. I didn’t want to go to church but dragged myself there out of sheer obedience. The noise of the first song sent me into tears immediately. I almost left. Instead, I sat with eyes closed and head bowed while others worshiped around me.
I prayed silently, Lord, rescue me from this darkness!
Our pastor began his sermon, finishing his series on Hebrews. His text would be the benediction: Hebrews 13:20-25. Great. Why did I come? I listened, grudgingly…and heard the words that pierced my darkness:
“Now may the God of peace, who…brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus…equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ…” vs. 20-21
Healing Comes Through the Word
Exhaustion—mental, physical, and/or emotional—can make us feel dead. But we have a God who specializes in resurrection! And though I felt that God would never be able to use me again, He promised to equip me with everything good to do His will. And HE would work in me to be pleasing. I didn’t have to please others. I simply needed to focus on pleasing Him.
In the light, those words are clear and simple, but I assure you—in the darkness, the words of human reason are like a resounding gong. Only GOD’S WORD penetrates the darkness.
Jehosheba’s Remedy and Mine
I’m taking high doses of Scripture these days combined with plenty of rest and alone-time. My ministry tank was dangerously low, and I know it’s time to refill it. Praise God for His refreshing that comes in waves and gushes!
Come with me to the Living Water, my friends, and drink deeply from the Spring that never runs dry (Jn. 4)!