Behind the Smile
I had the pleasure of my bi-annual visit to the dentist this morning. For most, this probably isn't that big of a deal, but I realized today that I may be a little more sensitive then most. When I go to the dentist, I need a warm blanket, relaxing music playing, I need special gel to numb my gums so they don't hurt when they are being cleaned and on top of all of that, I need laughing gas to take the edge off of what is at times an intense amount of anxiety. Now mind you, this is just for a cleaning.
I have battled for years over being "too sensitive" or "overly needy," even thinking that the dental crew was irritated with me for all of my excessive needs. Today was different. I had a moment in the chair that made my chuckle at all the progress in my own healing journey...I began to feel uncomfortable, my anxiety rising, and so I stoped the dental hygienist in her cleaning efforts and asked for more....more help, more calm, more gentle...and I didn't feel badly. No guilt, or insecurity or fear of rejection present. I validated that I am actually a very sensitive person. In every way. I feel things deeply and intensely. God intricately designed me that way and my experiences have intensified that design. I also have wounds that create even more sensitivity to some circumstances than others; AND thats ok. For example, when I was 13 I had to have major oral surgery that was really scary and didn't go great...now my central nervous system does not like it when I sit in any dental chair; AND thats ok.
Thankfully, I have really strong teeth that have survived beautifully through many years of avoiding that chair. My smile, shines on; greeting, loving, expressing joy and laughter, all the while others are unaware that behind it is a story of pain, of fear and of trauma.
I know many of us are walking around with beautiful smiles that behind them are hard things, painful emotions and fear that exists from past experiences. I've come to discover that fear only really shows up when we believe that we are powerless to the discomfort we are facing. Meaning, it's not ok to speak up, or advocate or ask for help, or say Im struggling. Scripture tells us that there is no fear in love and that perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:8). I believe that when I am loving myself and honoring my story, and validating my sensitivities I am engaging in this perfect love. It is the practice of real acceptance for where I am right now in the process of healing and where I have been. From that place of love, anxiety flees and the ability to advocate and appreciate my needs finds validity in the moment and peace for my soul. So for those of us walking around with smiles that hide pain from the past and fear to validate your needs, believe that you are powerful, advocate and love yourself well. This form of care for self is an act of worship and honors our Father who deeply delights in your care. All of it, in all the ways no matter how much, he ever grows weary or tired of loving all the parts of us. Reconciliation to him happens as we agree we are His children and we are worthy. Much love to you all.