Back in the day when I was a Dental Hygienist & managed a dental office, people would sometimes schedule appointments for cosmetic dentistry. Perhaps they needed a crown or veneers on one or more teeth. They wanted these things in order to protect their teeth or to improve their appearance, & self-esteem. The dentist I worked for did a good job with cosmetic issues such as this, & the end results were usually very esthetically pleasing, with the patients being happier & more content. They were able to chew their food better, or smile more easily, or express themselves in a more confident manner, or sometimes, all of these. However, there was a PROCESS involved in getting to this place of satisfaction. That entailed getting a shot – ouch – did I say that word out loud?!? To re-phrase, they had an injection of anesthesia to numb the affected area, so that they could not feel the pain that was about to ensue as a result of drilling out tooth decay, removing bits of tooth, or filing & smoothing rough surfaces. They had to lie prone in an uncomfortable position, & be totally still for a time that was undetermined by them. They could not even get up to go to the restroom unless the dentist was at an appropriate stopping place, for fear of messing up the procedure. They had a bright light shining down onto their faces, so that, while the dental professionals could see everything going on with them very clearly, they could not see very well themselves. And since they could not turn their heads without being instructed to do so, they could not even see everything that was going on in the room around them. Sometimes they had to make 2 or 3 visits in order to get everything done. At those times, they were given temporary crowns, ones which were only a facsimile of what the real crown would look like. The patients would get tired of holding their mouths open in such an awkward, uncomfortable & unusual manner for such an extended time. Some of them were so very fearful of the entire process that they were given nitrous oxide, a.k.a. laughing gas to help ease their anxieties.
But the choice to have the procedures done was always theirs – they were not forced into the chairs, tied down, or held down by chains. They could have, if they really wanted to do so, gotten up & walked out at any time. But they made a choice, these adult patients, to be still, & let the doctor do his work. They trusted him to do a good job, in as short a time possible & that they would be pleased with the end result. And sometimes they had to wait for extended periods of time in the outer waiting room, just to get in & have the procedure begin in the first place. But they did wait. For they wanted what the doctor had to offer them. They wanted to look & feel better. Once in a great while, there would be a patient with an abscessed tooth or something who did not follow the doctor’s prescribed treatment. What right did that patient, who refused the antibiotics, who refused to have the decay removed, who refused to allow the doctor’s hand to work on him, what right did that patient have to complain when they eventually lost that tooth? In my eyes, they had no right to complain at all.
No patient in their right mind would have squirmed, wiggled, or otherwise wrestle while the doctor had his drill actively engaged inside their mouth, for they knew that to do so might cause him to slip & cause them further harm. And I had occasion to act as the doctor’s assistant on procedures ranging from cosmetic improvements to oral surgery. No one ever enjoyed any of these uncomfortable experiences. And I hated that for them, but I tried to be as reassuring as possible to them while they were being worked on. No one ever begged to get onto the calendar, wished for a cavity, or volunteered for surgery unnecessarily. Going to the dentist was, for most people, considered to be an unpleasant experience that they would just as soon avoid at all costs. Yet still they came.
They sat as still as possible & allowed the dentist to do his work. Most of them did not speak unless spoken to, for that meant further delay in getting through the procedure. They were never left unattended, as either the dentist or his assistant or both were in the room with them at all times. One of the jobs of the assistant was to reassure the patients, & for those who were really anxious, sometimes this meant literally holding their hand while they were being worked on. The patients could not see everything going on around them – the times the assistant turned her back on them to mix a bonding compound, or when the drill bits were being changed out, or when an x-ray was being developed. But they could hear sounds, were cognizant of activity, & knew things were being worked out on their behalf. They simply trusted that the doctor knew exactly what he was doing. They listen for his directions about what to do next – which way to turn, when to rinse, how wide to open, etc. And they followed his directives without question.
So why then is it that we have such a difficult time sitting still & letting the Great Physician perform His work in our lives? Perhaps there are times when He must make us lie still, be uncomfortable, or be temporarily blinded by something external in order that He can remove decay, transform something ugly into something beautiful, or smooth off rough spots within us? Perhaps we are made to feel numb about something that has transpired in our lives because otherwise the pain would be far too great for us to bear? Perhaps we are not supposed to see every little movement that is occurring around us on our behalf? Perhaps …
I have always been a very good patient – in the physical realm. I guess that is because not only was I a dental health professional, but so was my aunt & my mother, so I was trained at a very early age that things will go a lot more smoothly & quickly & comfortably if you will lie still when needed & just relax & trust the doctor. Why then, do I have such a problem with this in my spiritual life? Why do I have such a difficult time when I feel God working on me? I KNOW that the end result will be a new, improved, & better me. Yet I squirm. I wiggle. I protest. I get impatient with waiting. At times I even get up out of that chair & start to head out the door before the procedure is completed.
I hate that bright light shining down on me, exposing all of my flaws! I abhor being confined. I detest being still for extended periods. I dislike not knowing what is going on around me. I deny that I have decay that needs to be removed.
But I know that I will not be happy with the end results if I do not allow him to finish. I know that, if the decay is not removed, excessive pain will result that will eventually cause a part of me to die. So I endure that discomfort. I listen for directions.
Yes, sometimes I misunderstand those directions. Sometimes the anesthetic wears off enough that the pain brings tears. Sometimes I get really, really frustrated with having to lie there for so long, thinking about all of the other things that I want to be doing. At those times, a soothing voice calms my spirit, or a warm hand clasps mine, or I feel a gentle squeeze on my shoulder. Sometimes those things are from the Master Himself. But when He is busy preparing things on my behalf, sometimes it is His “assistants” that help me through.
I am so very thankful for all of the Godly men & women that God has sent to me to help me be still, keep calm, & be quiet when I was having a hard time doing so by myself. For the ones that dried my tears & reassured me that everything was going to be all right. For the ones who sat in that Waiting Room with me, until it was my time to be seen, & for the ones who were assigned the task of helping me through the procedure.
Yes, waiting is very hard, especially for someone as active & hyper as me! My best advice for waiting? Surround yourself with the presence of Godly people who will wait with you as you trust in God to make the restorations you need in your life. But wait on the Lord – He knows what He is doing. Trust Him. The end result is worth the wait.
And if you know someone that is being told to lie still while God is working? Perhaps you can be the one that waits with them. Pray with them. Talk to them. Listen to them. Pray for them. Reassure them. Soothe them. Distract them. Most of all, just be there to wait with them! Be present for them!!
“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God forever & ever.
I will praise You forever,
because You have done it:
And in the presence of Your saints
I will wait on Your name, for it is good.”
~ Lou Lehman Sams