Saturday, November 03, 2007

Column in Muncie Star Press Today

I re-worked the wisdom tooth extraction experience for my column today. I'm copying it here because you can only link to the articles on line free for 7 days, so instead I'll to link to this post for the archive. The last thing I want to do is pay to get to my own words!

Twenty-two years ago, I had two wisdom teeth pulled. Because the whole ordeal wasn't a picnic, I decided to wait a while to have the others removed.

"A while" became 22 years.

In spite of meticulous brushing, flossing and even whitening, the remaining "wizzies" had to go. My dentist said there was nothing I could've done to avoid the surgery; the very nature of these nonessential, problematic teeth demanded that they go.

Driving home, I remembered his words, "It's the nature of the tooth, its anatomy, its physiology. It's just naturally bad."

Something being naturally bad made me think of sin.

I remembered a time when I hid sin similar to these teeth, keeping my secrets tucked so far back into the recesses of who I was that there was no danger of people seeing my misery. I practiced all of the spiritual disciplines -- reading scripture, attending church and serving others, but still, I hid my pain, thinking, "I'll take care of this at some point-just not yet."

Eventually, I realized as long as I harbored one unrepented sin, all the "whitening" in the world was either just for show or a half-hearted, prideful attempt to patch a serious problem. Living in denial about the state of my heart became a way of life. It hurt to expose flaws and release long-held anger, but it was necessary. And in the end, it was the best thing for me.

Although I knew I would feel some discomfort after this extraction, I trusted this surgeon -- unlike my father-in-law, who continually offers to perform all kinds of medical procedures fast and cheap for his family, and no, he's not a doctor! This surgeon didn't appear to have a sadistic bone in his body. He listened to all my fears and reassured me. I was in good hands.

Likewise, I know that when I release my grip on an ancient grudge or heartache, at first, it won't feel good. I might feel like I've "lost" somehow. But that's not so. The truth is, being set free from decaying forces in my life is the best thing for me.

And I trust my God. He wants to excise whatever harms me and drives a wedge between us. When I'm scared to turn over my hang-ups to him, he listens to my fears and reassures me. When life hurts, I could resort to all sorts of crazy methods to treat myself, but the truth is, he is the only one who can truly set me free. I cannot help myself. I will always need a savior.

Right now, my front teeth look great, but don't come too close! The inside of my mouth looks and smells like walking death. I'm reminded of Matthew 23:27, where Jesus warned, "You Pharisees and teachers are in for trouble! You're nothing but show-offs. You're like tombs that have been whitewashed. On the outside they are beautiful, but inside they are full of bones and filth." Yet I am comforted by Isaiah 1:18: "I, the Lord, invite you to come and talk it over. Your sins are scarlet red, but they will be whiter than snow."

To be human is to be naturally inclined to disobey, even though we know we are digging our own graves. When God says, "It's time for this rot to go," I have to remember to trust in his mercy and unfailing kindness toward me. Even though there's much value in doing good, no regiment of noble behaviors or charitable endeavors can purify my inner self. Therefore, to kick off this month of thanksgiving, I'm declaring my thanks to God for exchanging real life for my decay, for trading his joy for my sorrow. Great is your faithfulness, O God!

Linda Crow, of Muncie, is the mother of three teenagers and works in youth ministry. Visit her blog at
Originally published November 3, 2007


thouartloosed said...

Well. Now you have hit on an analogy that I was not wanting to make! Per usual, God says what He wants me to hear. I'm willing to let him at the sin, but I think I'm going to try and hang on to the wisdom teeth.

Merrie said...

WOW.... thanks for the words of wisdom! I too have been guilty of hiding and whitening - both teeth and sin. Because I grew up as a preachers kid, am married to a preacher, have an uncle, brother and 2 sons who are ministers... well, I sure do KNOW how to ACT right and acceptable while covering the true me. There is much that wants to be repented of, but b/c of "position" it feels like it should be covered over and not exposed. I have experienced freedom and have learned to BE who I am and realize that everyone has sin and "decay" that must be extracted from their lives. Some have the ability to hide it (like wisdom teeth) and some have it all over and evident to the world (like a front tooth)... God's grace is sufficient and His love and healing abundant!
Thanks for your honesty and exposure!

Susanne said...

Wow, Linda the analogy of the rot & hiding it with whitening and all the rest is really good. They let you write this boldly in the paper? That is amazing.

Linda said...

I just want to say that in true Mom form, when my mom read this in the paper, her first reaction was not "she did a good job," it was "what in the world has she done that made her feel so guilty." Sigh. I tried to explain a little more, but I don't think she got it. :)

Linda said...

I just want to say that in true Mom form, when my mom read this in the paper, her first reaction was not "she did a good job," it was "what in the world has she done that made her feel so guilty." Sigh. I tried to explain a little more, but I don't think she got it. :)

Melanie said...


Connie@Little Red Hearts From God said...

Now that is one dirt dobber analogy that actually was pretty awesome...

having had a dry socket from a wisdom tooth extraction, i relived the gory details a tad painfully...

but oh isn't that sin!!??

great job....

Ann said...

That was really awesome, Linda!! I know what it's like to be a poser, trying to hide the rot and putting it off, saying I'll deal with it later. It's miserable. I also know that true freedom that comes after trusting Jesus and giving him that rot. It's an incredible feeling.

That was really well written, and in a public newspaper too! Way to go!! /hi5