I got my teeth cleaned this week. There are two reasons that encourage me to actually do this twice a year. First, I have insurance coverage, and since it’s paid for why waste it? The second is less “logical”. When I turned 50 (why does that seem so terribly long ago?) when I would see doctors, they would add this little phrase to their discussion: “Well, you know, you are the age…” When they talked I felt like I had just entered a time warp where everything was going to fall apart.
Confession time. I haven’t always been as committed to keeping my regularly scheduled appointments with the dentist. Cleaning hurt because I’m one of those people who naturally build up tartar, no matter how faithfully I brush and floss. I became so reluctant to go that my husband cancelled the insurance coverage. Now as is often the case, no sooner had he done this than I broke a tooth and needed a crown. That was an expensive boot to my behind. So I’m back to cleanings every six months.
So I show up for my appointment, and am quickly informed that the usual hygienist just had a baby and someone would be filling in today. I didn’t think much about it. I trusted that they would have someone competent there and just climbed into the chair. The woman was very chatty, discussing family, weather, and even politics. She was also painfully thorough at cleaning off my tartar. Scrape, scrape.and Wince, wince.
When the tooth torture and gum stabbing was done, the dentist came in to check the work and go over my teeth. I really like my dentist. The lead dentist was the one that was recommended when my tooth broke, but he was unavailable so I agreed to see his associate and I’m so glad I did. After a short discussion about my jaw pain she put on some gloves and began her exam.
Immediately I realized and experienced an enormous difference. The dentist’s touch was smooth and light, and quite gentle. She used the pick but it slid across my teeth causing no pain in the process. The difference I felt was amazing to me…and of course started me thinking spiritually.
Next Sunday is Mothers’ Day. Nelson and I are scheduled to sing for the worship service. I had recently heard a song on the radio while traveling that we had sung together in the past. The song was sung by a group called Truth, popular back in the 70’s and 80’s–I told you it was old. And obviously, it’s not very familiar since it’s not on youtube or godtube. (Insert disappointed sigh here.)
Anyway…the touch of the dentist hand reminded me of the master’s hands while the hygienist was more like me: well-intended, thorough, but just not as skilled or gentle. The dentist’s gentle touch reminded me of Jesus’ invitation to the people to come and learn from him for he was gentle and humble (Matthew 11). Gentle there doesn’t have anything to do with wimpy. No it’s strength under control. Just like the dentist. She had a weapon in her hands that could cause intense pain, but she wielded it as if it was really a feather in her hand.
I am drawn to feathers and a feathery touch. In this politically charged climate, I’m finding myself withdrawing from people because they seem more intent on throwing stones. I’m tired of all the wounding. There’s too much bludgeoning with the truth. Scripture says to always be ready to give an answer for the hope we have, and to do so with gentleness and respect. Yes, we need to speak the truth, but we’re to do so in love.
I needed my teeth clean. There was gunk there that needed scraped off. The hygienist did her job. I’m thankful. But it was the gentle hands of the dentist that really touched me–all the way to my heart. I guess we just need to remember that there really is more than one way to get the job done. Who will you gently touch for Jesus this week?