While driving in the mornings, I pray aloud in the car until I get to my first destination point. This gives me at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted quiet time. I’ve tried praying in my head, but my mind wanders too much. I’d rather endure the quizzical looks from passersby who see my mouth moving than silently pray and end up formulating my grocery list because of my lack of focus. Last week, I went through my usual routine praying for each family member only this time I prayed that I would be an encouragement to someone that day.
My day was jam packed with appointments, important things like getting my nails done and going to the dentist—in that order! I don’t particularly enjoy going to the dentist office for the six month cleaning; in fact, I’ve convinced myself I’d much rather give birth. The smell, the sound of drills whirring, the swishing of fluoride causes me to start whining like my dog when she realizes the vacuum cleaner is coming out of the closet!
When the hygienist called me back to the dreaded room, I had been reading a book, The Prodigal God by Tim Keller. Any place that has a waiting room is an opportunity for reading even if it’s only five minutes. Consequently, I always have a book with me. I shoved the book in my purse and followed her back. She was curious and asked about the book. As I explained the topic, she opened up and shared a book she was reading about family. I hoped to keep her talking to avoid the inevitable scraping and polishing, but it turns out that dental hygienists are good multi-taskers. They can talk to you about deep subjects while they are hurting you and expect an answer, even if it sounds like gobbledy-gook.
“I’ve been married for a year and a half, and it’s been a rough couple of months. How long have you been married?” she asked.
In between scrapes, I say, “Eleven years.”
“Oh, well do you have any advice for me?” she asks.
I’d laugh at the humorousness of this entire spectacle except for the seriousness of her question. Me, with my mouth open, eeking out one or two word responses up to this point. I’ve never understood why dentists insist on carrying on a conversation when they are working on the vessel you need to actually use in order to participate. Never has made sense to me. She lets me off the hook for a minute. “I know that’s a big question. I’ll let you think about it.”
Great. I’m laid back in a chair attempting to formulate an answer to a not so simple question with my mouth full of saliva and polish. She talks some more about other things. “You went on a vacation to Kauai this summer, right? How was it?”
“Goob,” is all that comes out of my open mouth. I’m thinking that dentists should start scheduling before and after the appointment time if they actually want to talk to their patients. I bet they all have a good laugh at the end of the day when they retell stories of how ridiculous their patients sound when they attempt to converse.
Finally, I squeeze in an answer to her question. “My advice would be to pick your battles and don’t take yourself too seriously. I tend to make mountains out of mole hills and need to chill out sometimes. I’m not very flexible and need to realize that there are other ways to do things. Some things just shouldn’t be made a big deal.” (Gee, I ought to heed my own advice.) I add, “Oh, and another great book to read is Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. It transformed my view of marriage…how it’s not about my happiness but my holiness.” It’s amazing how fast you can talk in between the cleaning process.
This young girl appeared appreciative of my on-the-spot advice and wrote down the book title. For once, that teeth cleaning seemed faster than ordering a coffee at a drive-thru Starbucks. As I grabbed my coat, purse and goody bag, it donned on me…this was my God-appointment today. He opened a door for me to encourage someone, and I actually stepped out of my comfort zone, took a chance and spoke with courage amid the barrier of swishing, swirling and sucking.
She was looking for encouragement, and I was looking for a God-ordained opportunity. I am looking, are you?