So, three months ago I got braces and *spoiler alert* they suck. For the first month and a half, I was resigned to eating most foods with a knife and a fork (including hot dogs) and could only eat tiny baby portions, which meant that it would take me at least an hour to eat a moderately sized serving of food. Because I have clear ceramic braces, if any food gets stuck in my braces—which includes just about everything, including pepper—the whole entire world will know. And if I eat too much ketchup, the clear bands start yellowing, which makes my teeth look yellow. So from far away when I smile, one would think I have really yellow teeth and poor dental hygiene. Oh and you want to know what the best part is? I have developed a pseudo-lisp, which kind of sounds like I have cotton permanently stuck in my mouth. Really, spitty cotton. These next two years are going to be awesome. *eye roll*
But the funny thing is that whenever people see that I have braces, their first response is always “Why do you need braces? Your teeth look straight to me.” Which, yes, I see why they would say that. My teeth are pretty straight, so that’s not the reason why I need braces. Unlike the proper curves of my lower dental arch, my upper dental arch is warped. Just imagine if a giant angry fist sucker punched the St. Louis arch on both sides resulting in permanent indentations that never got fixed. Yea, that’s what my top teeth look like. The result of that improper formation has been the slow misalignment of my teeth; a crossbite. And if I didn’t get it fixed soon, the gradual shift would lead to problems with my jaw.
The truth is that I should’ve gotten braces a long time ago but I made a bunch of excuses as to why I should keep putting it off. They’re too expensive. My jaw isn’t going to get that bad. My mouth has been okay for this long so I can wait a little bit more. But as time progressed, I realized that my mouth was getting worse, slowly shifting more. Then I got scared. And embarrassed for even being scared of something like that. Feared that I waited too long and caused too much damage. I would love to say that I had this great epiphany and spurt of courage to finally face the orthodontist after 2 years but the truth is that I was turning 26 soon which meant that I would officially be off my mom’s insurance, the good insurance. So it was time to bite the bullet and make an appointment. And I did it. I got braces and finally started the lengthy process of correcting my crossbite.
Similarly to my crossbite, there are sometimes issues in our lives that we avoid dealing with for many years. And sometimes others are unaware of what we’re going through because it isn’t surface issues, so it’s only evident if you take a deeper look inside. It’s so easy to mask everything behind a seemingly perfect smile, or a laugh. And there’s always a plethora of excuses as to why we avoid dealing with these problems. Maybe we’re scared that we waited too long; scared that the problem has grown too deep. Maybe we’re in denial, not wanting to truly admit how bad certain things are. Maybe we’re embarrassed and afraid to be fully transparent and vulnerable. Maybe we don’t like to be out of our comfort zones and know that working on these issues would be very uncomfortable at times. Maybe we don’t like processes but instead want things to be fixed immediately. Whatever the reasons are, maybe it’s time to consider getting braces and finally fixing those crossbites in your lives.
Be prepared for the shifts that are going to occur, some sudden and others gradual. There might be some unhealthy relationships that have been crowding your life; it’s time to pull them out completely to create enough space for the healthy ones to find their proper place and flourish. You’ll need those healthy relationships to help you along this journey. Expect some painful days, mildly uncomfortable days, and days where you would rather lie in bed all day instead of getting up and facing the world. But also look forward to the good days. The days where you feel energized and encouraged. The days where you look in the mirror with a hopeful spirit because you’re starting to recognize the subtle changes that are occurring.
On those days when I feel discouraged, I have to constantly remind myself that this is a process. And as much as I hate it sometimes, processes take time. *ugh* And patience. And endurance. Plants don’t just need the sun to grow, they also need dirt AND rain. We need the storms just as much as we need the sun. So stop avoiding the challenges and difficult processes; embrace them. They make us stronger and help us grow into the mature and complete person that God wants and needs us to be.