So, today was my removal day for my braces, BUT I walked in with my braces and walked back out with them still intact! Here's why:
In the days and weeks leading up to this day, I have wrestled internally with myself concerning whether I was ready to have them removed or not. I am a 35 year old woman. This is my SECOND round of braces. All my life, my teeth have been a source of shame, embarrassment, and confidence killer for me. Picture day was always dreaded. I always tried to laugh with a closed mouth or with my hand over my smile. So, I was so excited when I got my braces as a teenager. Even the process of having the braces was cool, and much better than having crooked crowded teeth. When I had my braces removed the first time my teeth were beautiful, but unfortunately, I took my smile for granted! I didn't wear my retainers like I should have. I don't even have many pictures of myself from when my teeth were straight! So, years later as a young adult, I found that my teeth had gradually shifted and I again had a crooked smile. I lived with it for years, going back to not showing my smile as I had done when I was a kid. I even began to watch as people's eyes went to my teeth as I spoke. Let me tell you, that is the worse feeling! Imagining what their thoughts must be as they focused more on my teeth instead of what I was saying. The breaking point for me was an innocent question my little cousin asked, "Is your tooth loose?" I had so much crowding in the bottom of my mouth that one tooth actually seemed to lean forward. I laughed, but in that moment my heart broke and I made up my mind that I had to do something about my smile. So, I started the journey again as an adult. I began to schedule consultations to see how much and how long it would take to straighten my teeth AGAIN. The first consultation, blew my mind. The price and the process were more than I was prepared to accept. They wanted to pull four teeth (two up top and two on the bottom) and they said it would take three years. I had already had braces for three years! I expected for the process to be easier the second time around, you know just put them back to where they were! So, I went and had two more consultations and kept getting the same responses. I ended up accepting that this time around would cost me much more than the last. Isn't that how life always works?
So, I committed to the process and got started. God opened up some doors of opportunity through my employer that made the payment process more bearable, but even still the price I paid was the same as buying a used car!
Okay, so back to the removal day:
I really didn't know what to expect in the doctor's reaction, when I told him that I did not want to have my braces removed. Did I even have the option to say that? I wondered if he would remind me that I had not been diligent in wearing my rubber bands or if there was something in the contract I signed stating my treatment time and releasing the doctor from responsibility beyond that time frame. I just didn't know! But thanks to the encouragement from a friend who'd just had her braces removed and was not content, I was ready to object and stand firm in my decision to keep my braces until I was satisfied with my smile!
Once I voiced my concerns the doctor explained that the issue I wanted corrected takes time and is actually the hardest part of the process, but he was willing to "Throw everything he had" at the problem. I agreed, "I HAVE TIME." I told him this has been a lifetime issue for me and I don't wan't to walk away from the process unsatisfied. I want to be happy with my smile! The dental assistant accompanied me to check out and scheduled my next appointment. She looked me in my eyes with a sad look and said, "Pray girl!" As I turned and walked out, I had a little chuckle (at the assistant's deep sentiment), a little feeling of triumph (because I did not give in), and also an awareness of what I was up against!
I sat in my car and processed what had just happened and the tears began to flow. In case you haven't realized it by now, this was much bigger than braces and crooked teeth! As always the Spirit speaks through the most mundane. I realized that I had delayed gratification and stood firm in my commitment to embrace the process. I cried and prayed. God I want your best for me! I don't want half done, I don't even wan't 90% done! I want everything that you have for me in all of its fullness! Even if from one point of view, it looks good, it's not enough. I want your complete promise, lacking nothing.
At this point in my life, I cannot afford to settle for less than. I understand that what I take with me into this next portion of my life journey will be built upon this new foundation and I want it to be right. I am looking for a clean start, a fresh slate, a new beginning. I refuse to take the residue of the past with me into my next chapter. I know life will still come and knock me around. I know that once the braces are off my teeth will still shift and settle a little, so I know that I need to at least give myself the best start possible! God is still making my crooked places straight! And I am fully committed to the process, no matter how long it takes. This is a principle at the root of every area of my life: My marriage, my children, my businesses, etc. And for that reason, I won't settle, I won't take a short cut, I want accept less than. I am willing to stay in the fight and wait as long as necessary. I am after God's best, and nothing less!