The Dentist Office

…“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Dentist appointment. “Ugh! A filling. That means drill. Yuck!” Were the words and attitude going through my mind this afternoon.

I’m a nervous patient. Dental work has been my arch nemesis for as long as I can remember. My first cleaning brought out my first seven cavities. Yep. Seven. Isn’t that a number of perfection?

As an adult, I keep my appointments on schedule trying to make oral hygiene a priority. But every now and then, a cavity still works its way through.

Entering the dental office, I was greeted with, “Hi, Miss Kysia!” from a lovely twenty something with a beautiful smile. “How are you doing today?”

“Well, I’m at the dentist for a filling…” I replied making sure I smiled back. “So…things could be better. But I’m glad we caught it before the root canal, so things could also be worse.”

“Mrs. Thornton,” called the dental assistant. “It’s your turn.” “Gee really, thanks!” Sarcasm ripped through my mind. Thankfully, only pleasantries came out of my mouth. We headed to the dental room.

While waiting for the numbing shot to take effect, the dental assistant began to talk about her six month old. “She’s so sweet,” she shared. “Everyone keeps telling me though, I’m going to have to put her down and let her cry, but I just can’t.”

Early motherhood. Oh, how I remember. I shared with her how everyone told me the same thing and how I didn’t listen and held my kids anyway.  I also guaranteed her that her daughter wouldn’t go to kindergarten with a bottle in her mouth adding that she would eventually sleep through the night.

She continued to share some of her daughter’s cute moments, glowing as a new mom. I loved hearing every story.

The dentist entered. Nice guy – but a dentist. My cavity was filled over stories of his daughter’s broken arm and him questioning himself on whether or not he should have sent her to school today. I gave reassurances through my plastic mouth guard that he did the right thing.

At the end of the appointment, I shook my dentist hand and thanked him because I was truly grateful for his work. I also thanked his assistant for being such sweet company. It really was nice to hear her stories.

On the way home, I thought about how nervous I had been walking into the dentist office, but how casual conversation had calmed my nerves. I thought about how much better I felt when I left, yes, in part to the work being finished, but also because people were kind and shared their lives with me. We all have our stories. It was interesting to see how just sharing those stories made a difference to me. It was also nice to be able to give back by encouraging them where they were in their stages of life. Stages I had already experienced.

People’s stories make a difference. Some make us smile to remember, others encourage us to greater things. There is value in listening. There is value in sharing. Even when seated in the dentist chair.

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