Lessons from a rotten tooth

Earlier this year I got a dental implant. I had been putting it off for close to two years, in part because I was unemployed for a year of that time and had no dental insurance. In the summer of 2015, I developed a spot on a molar in the right side of my upper jaw that kept catching food particles. At first, it was mildly annoying. My wife made fun of me because I always had to have a piece of chewing gum on hand after every meal: "I gotta clean my teeth." After a while, mildly annoying progressed to somewhat painful. It got to where I couldn't really chew anything on the right side of my mouth. Then it got to where anything hot or cold in my mouth generated shooting pain in the tooth. By that time, I frequently had a dull throb in my jaw, accompanied by an odor that was reminiscent of three-day-old roadkill. Something had to be done. The trip I had been dreading brought a diagnosis that the tooth had completely deteriorated, down to the root, and was beyond repair. It had to come out. I was given a choice between "the Arkansas plan", which consisted of leaving a gap in the place where the tooth had been, a removable appliance to fill the gap during the day, or an implant. 

I won't go into the details of the procedure required to install an implant (if you're interested, that's why God made Google). Fortunately I don't remember the bulk of it due to the effects of some very expensive drugs. Worth every penny, they were! What I will say is the aftermath was not nearly as horrendous as I had expected it to be. Oh sure, I had a screw sticking out of my gum, but the pain and stank were gone (and yes, a grown-up, full-on stink is known as "stank" in these here parts). Other than getting my chewing gum stuck on the screw while I waited a few weeks for my crown to be installed (for better or worse, that habit has stayed with me to some extent), there were really no further issues.

So why this nasty story about my nasty tooth? Well, examining my behaviors to expose my appetites can be an intimidating exercise. I may be tempted to avoid or postpone it, afraid of the pain or what it might cost me. What if I don't like what I find? What if it's embarrassing? What if it means I have to make changes? What if others have noticed and tolerated it for some time, but were too kind to mention it? Here's the thing. Like it or not, admit it or not, unhealthy appetites driving unproductive behavior will, over time, become harder and harder to live with. At some point, the pain and dysfunction become too much to deny, overlook, or work around. Kinda like my rotten tooth.

I'm praying you use your foxhole time this month to get down to the nub of what makes you tick. Me and my guys are working through our stuff - so far we've found a people-pleaser, two "judgers", and some latent anger issues. Behaviors that we go to again and again that seem to produce more problems than they solve.... I know this is a tough part of the journey, guys. It gets better, but we have to get through the hard work first. Let the Spirit guide you. I promise it's worth it.