I grew up with an overbite that caused me to feel extreme shame. Guilt says, “I did something wrong.” Shame says, “There IS something wrong with me.” I knew I wasn’t “like” the other people. If a small child would ask me why my teeth stuck out I’d want to die with embarrassment. I often talked to people with my hand in front of my mouth. Kids, of course, teased me. I also grew up with an extreme fear of EVERYTHING. It did not help matters any when I experienced a traumatic visit with a community health department dentist at a very young age. My father, who often used humor, had no idea the wound he was inflicting in my heart when he made fun of my teeth. I grew up in a below average family income and an organization had helped finance my brother’s braces. His teeth were worse than mine. My parents were thinking about trying to get braces financed through this organization for me but I was absolutely terrified of the pain so my parents let it go.
If we fast forward twenty years you will see that I finally faced my fear of the dentist and even went and talked to an orthodontist. The diagnosis: the type of overbite I had would require jaw surgery, wiring my mouth shut for 8 weeks and could change my looks a lot. I had come a long way with fear but not that far. And once again, finances would be a problem.
Now we will fast forward twenty more years. A new dentist that I started seeing asked me if I had ever considered braces. I told her my story and how I had “let it go” years ago. She encouraged me to get a second opinion. She began to talk with me about orthodontics from a dental health perspective. My bottom teeth were crowding more and more as I aged. Dr. Laura Carns had no idea that she was opening up an emotional can of worms in my heart. I left her office that day thinking, “Could I STILL get braces?” I called my husband from my car and broke into tears sobbing from the bottom of my heart. I was grieving. When we grieve, we grieve because there is a loss. I had a loss of having straight teeth and feeling good about my appearance.
It was fascinating to see how God confirmed His will for me and how He nudged me each step of the way. I saw several devotionals that month that was saying the very same thing to me over and over. “God are you REALLY going to do this?” “Now?” “Wait a minute, even if I could get braces we do not have the money?” God gave me a group of ladies that constantly encouraged me to pursue my heart’s desire and to not give up this dream. The dream still looked impossible to me. One day I was driving down the road to the grocery store. I looked to my right to see a large tree with all of its leaves covering up a local sign. The only part of the sign that I saw showed one word. Hmmmmm, that’s the name of the orthodontist Dr. Carnes wanted me to go see. “Lord was that you?” “How in the world did my eye catch that one word on that sign?” Long story short…I eventually went to see him and heard the same thing I heard twenty years previously. I would need jaw surgery. So I gave up, again.
The next year when I went for my annual visit to Dr. Carnes she asked me about braces AGAIN. I told her that I did see the orthodontist and he said I needed jaw surgery. She began to talk with me about how far oral surgeons have come and why not just go talk to an oral surgeon. “Gosh, could she please let this go?” “It’s hurting my heart!” After several weeks I could not shake the thought… so I made an appointment with an oral surgeon. We discovered I would need two jaw surgeries! “O.k. now I can put this thing to rest.” “I’m definitely not up for this mentally or financially.”
Let’s now fast forward to the next year when I go to my annual dental appointment with Dr. Carnes. “Rebekah, did you ever go to the second orthodontist that I mentioned?” “You have got to be kidding me!?!?!?!?!”, I thought. She continued, “Why not just go see what he could do without surgery?” Again, after the Holy Spirit kept it on my mind I made that final appointment. I was thinking, “I will go and get the same diagnosis and sadly nail this coffin shut.” MUCH to my surprise, Dr. Scott McPherson believed he could do the work to improve my bite without surgery. I was blown away! The results would not be perfect, but he believed I would be happy with what he could do. “I cannot believe this is happening.” My husband and I took a nervous leap of faith and started the process in October of 2012. I was 53 years old! The experience went better than I could ever imagine. I had very little discomfort and each visit Dr. McPherson would be pleasantly surprised at how quickly my teeth were moving.
This week the braces came off and I am in disbelief at the entire process. It really wasn’t about my bite. It was about my heart. As I look back I realize that so many things would have been different if we had taken care of this problem when I was a child. But I can’t go back and change any of that. I feel eternally grateful and immensely blessed by my Heavenly Father that HE used Dr. Carnes and Dr. McPherson to give me the desires of my heart that I didn’t even know was still there. YOUR Heavenly Father cares for you and your heart desires too! Will you trust him?