I am absolutely terrified of the dentist. The mere thought of a visit increases my heart rate and produces pit stains on my shirt…lovely.
This morning, I had an appointment which I was absolutely dreading, but I felt I was ready. I had already let my precious circle of praying sisters know what time my appointment would be, confident they would cover me in prayer. My husband gave me the shock of a lifetime when he offered to come with me to offer his support (I love him like crazy!). My phone was fully charged with all my music from Plumb ready to drown out the sound of those goddy drills ::cold shiver::.
With a prayer on my lips, I was ready to tough it out and get some cavities filled!
As I lay down in the chair, I could feel my heart racing.
“Breathe Heather, just breathe.” I kept telling myself, “the dentist hasn’t even come in yet, keep breathing. Cast your cares on God, you can’t hold His peace if you’re holding on to fear.”
My sweet Daniel reminded me, “You’ve gone through child labor, you can do this babe.”
“I’d rather go through labor than this…!”
You see, when I go the dentist, it never goes well. No matter how well I brush or floss my teeth, I end up with cavities. I’m a bit surprised I still have teeth to fill and that I haven’t been issued dentures instead.
The Novocaine shots they always give me…never seem to be enough…EVER. Even after several shots and two boosters halfway through, my teeth still feel like they’re about to rattle right out of my mouth. My hands get a workout as I give the chair a death grip.
This time, we tried Nitrous gas to help calm me down. If you’ve never been given “laughing gas,” as it’s sometimes called, it’s an interesting experience. My whole body began to relax. I felt as if I would drip right off the chair, or sink straight through to the floor. Once it kicked in my body stopped trembling and my heart returned to a slow, steady beat. I imagine this is what it feels like to be high.
A thought passed through my mind and I had to capture it immediately.
“This must be what God’s peace feels like.”
Ugh, such a lie, but it’s a pretty one.
We can confuse God’s peace, with feeling numb. When you’re numb, all feeling drifts away, tension relaxes into euphoria, and you are wrapped in a protective haze. I can see how people who find themselves in the midst of terrible times seek this kind of escape. Maybe it’s through drugs (legal or otherwise), drinking, shopping, sex, or any number of activities that release a surge of endorphin or cloud your mind.
A temporary fix to a deeper struggle.
I have found myself from time to time desperately wanting to be numb. Escaping harsh areas of my past, too painful and confusing to try and unravel or process. It’s easier to go on pretending they don’t exist or drown them in another drink, and when that doesn’t work, have another.
God’s peace is so incredibly different. Paul wasn’t kidding when he described God’s peace as, “surpassing all understanding” Phil 4:7. Unlike being numb, God’s peace is present despite our circumstances, not in place of them. He doesn’t seek to remove us from experiencing life, but rather complete them with His presence.
The peace He offers doesn’t wear off, but we have a tendency to trade His peace for something else, something we think will be “better” or what will “work.” Whether we give in to fear, anxiety, or even seek that numbness, we want to take control of what is going on in our hearts.
God calls us to trust in Him. It takes surrender. Relinquishing control. Two hard words to swallow. Relinquishing control. But we are trading our temporary band-aids for His permanent healing. A verse I have been clinging to lately is from Exodus 14:14:
God is on our side. Fighting our cause, healing our hurts, even those which have cut us to the core. Anytime you feel the need to escape, run to Him, Your Prince of Peace.
Father, Life is hard. It is a joy, but it also comes with deep hurts. Sometimes, we just want to run away from those hurts, forget they exist and the way they make us feel. Like a junkie, we numb ourselves with a quick fix. Something, anything to drown out what is drowning us. With You, there is a better way. Father, You have allowed our experiences not only for Your glory, but so that we have a deeper relationship with You. Help us relinquish control and trust in You as our Prince of Peace. Amen.