Last week I started orthodontic treatment (using Invisalign, if you’re curious). Although it is supposed to change and improve the function and appearance of my teeth, this process is already teaching me something about a different kind of change. It isn’t a new lesson, but it is an important one. I am so thankful that God is an infinitely patient teacher, never getting fed up or upset at how often I need to learn the same lesson over and over and over again. My level of patience could take a hint from that, but that’s another topic for another day.
Before I started this treatment, I was pretty nervous. It took me months to even set up an initial consultation (pure procrastination, folks – it was a five minute phone call). Lots of things were running through my mind from the time commitment to the cost to the lifestyle compromises – but at the end of the day, I was simply scared of change. The shadow of what was coming around the corner loomed large, spreading out to touch almost every area of my life. Does this seem irrational or even ridiculous to you? I’m just being real, people. Think about it – maybe orthodontics wouldn’t even cause you to blink (probably because you already experienced when you were a kid like everyone else…adult ortho represent!!) – but everyone is afraid of something that doesn’t make total sense or seems silly to other people. Everyone has experienced that shadow of feeling scared of something because of concrete and non-concrete reasons. We’ve all felt that shadow.
Something I realized the moment after walking out of the orthodontist’s office was that the shadow is bigger than the monster. That doesn’t mean the monster doesn’t exist and my teeth don’t hurt and I don’t have to plan meals better and learn how to talk with a lisp. But it isn’t the end of the world. This made me step back and try to figure out why things can seem so scary and like such a big deal before hand, but then turn out to be so much more mundane. The key lies not in what changed, but what didn’t.
Even with my Invisalign, I still like the same foods, have the same friends, are striving towards the same goals, and don’t particularly enjoy working out. It isn’t just the every day stuff that stayed the same – the bigger stuff did too. My husband still loves me and treats me better than I deserve. My heavenly Father is still orchestrating things for my good.
“Long ago You laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with Your hands. They will perish, but You remain forever; they will wear out like old clothing. You will change them like a garment and discard them. But You are always the same; You will live forever. The children of Your people will live in security. Their children’s children will thrive in Your presence.” (Psalm 102:25-28)
Living in God’s presence and being His child – this is ultimately what makes everything ok, even when things change. This is what I want to remember when I feel the familiar cold, petrifying shadow of something around the corner. God is there too and “He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” (James 1:17b)
Have you ever struggled with this before? How does God’s character and presence help you through those scary shadows?