I am searching for a new dentist. I've been going to the same dentist since 1998, and he is gentle and kind, but after recent unhappy dental developments, I've decided I need a newer, better model. Preferably a miracle worker.
I have bad teeth. My bad teeth aren't entirely my fault--my mother has bad teeth, too--but the fact is I've spent much of my adult life paying for all the sugar I ate as a kid and my poor dental habits as a teenager and young adult. I've been serious about my teeth since my early thirties, but that's a little late in the game to take up the fight against tooth decay.
Now, if you know me, you know that I'm not really your laying-on-of-hands type of girl, but when I saw in the church bulletin yesterday that there was a healing service immediately following the eleven o'clock service, I thought of my teeth and decided to go. When it was my turn to be annointed with oil and prayed over, I
said, "I know this is silly, but I have bad teeth, and I'm feeling a lot
of anxiety about my bad teeth, and I need help."
And then I cried like a baby. The minister who anointed me with
oil is Jack's youth minister and the congregation's interim pastor, so I
know him a bit, but after yesterday we're on much more intimate terms.
He and a lay minister, a woman I don't know, laid their hands on me and
prayed over me, and I blubbered away, and when it was done my nose was
running profusely, and I had to wipe it with my sleeve because my handkerchief was in my purse.
If you've never been prayed over, I recommend it, even if the very thought makes you feel all squirrely and exposed. I really felt something go through me--a tremendous rush of warmth and comfort that's hard to describe. I felt it on and off for the rest of the day, and I felt it this morning when I woke up.
Do I expect the decay under the crowns to disappear? No, though I'm radically hoping it won't be too bad (this is the position I've decided to take with my teeth--one of radical hope). But I don't think my anxiety and my blubbering are really about tooth decay. I think they're about shame and feeling different and odd, feelings I've had since I was a chubby, sensitive little girl who soothed myself with Twinkies and Hershey's kisses. I would like to be healed from the damage that shame has done over the years, and I'm radically hopeful that one day I will be.
I wasn't the only one at that service, by the way, and that was the other powerful thing, to be in a room full of strangers, all wanting to be healed, all willing to be vulnerable and open to hope. I might never see these people again, but for a few minutes I knew them and felt connected to them. I hope that one day we all will be well.
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