Just because something is irrational doesn’t mean that it is unreal especially when it comes to fears. I have a friend who is one of the most unflappable people I know, someone you can always count on to keep their head in a crisis. Unless there is a cat involved. It doesn’t even have to be a real feline, a picture of one brings on a panic attack. She knows it is totally irrational but she can’t help herself. I don’t particularly like cats but I’m not afraid of them, with me it’s dentists.
I have a dread fear of dentists and have had for many years. In the twelve years since we moved to Wiltshire I had never been for a check up. I did register with one and even made an appointment but in the end I bottled it.
“Man up dad.” was a common plea from my daughters!
Why was I so scared? Until recently I wasn’t sure; I had lots of excuses but I knew they were really a smokescreen. A little innocent sophistry that would probably have kept me away from the dentists forever and then two things happened.
First, at Christmas, I was eating a soft centre sweet when I realised that it had become crunchy! It transpired that one of the three fillings I had when I was a kid had crumbled. Pain followed. I knew that I would have to do something.
Secondly, I shared what had happened with my friend Carl, a dentist. He promised me that he would treat me and that I would not suffer any pain.
Now I have always been taught that if you have a need and a solution you have the makings of a plan. So I agreed to go to Carl’s surgery; which I did eight weeks later! O.K eight weeks might seem like a long time but remember I have a morbid fear of dentists; I’m not going to book an express ticket to the hydraulic chair!
Anyway, eventually I arrive at the surgery (I confess I did bottle it once). Carl, assisted by Paul, was brilliant; I felt no pain. They let me call a time out so I could have a little personal panic attack whenever I needed. Of course it was a frightening experience but I survived it and now have pain free teeth.
Later, reflecting on what had happened and why I was so frightened I realised it was all to do with intimacy.
Paul and Carl were in my mouth!
Looking down my throat!
I’ve never seen my upper molars but they could! They had what felt like half of Sheffield’s steel production in my mouth but I had no control over it. They had a more intimate knowledge of my mouth than I ever could and it scared the hebejebes out of me! I was vulnerable and they had power! I’m starting to think that my fear is not so irrational!
At the same time that I discover the intimacy of dentistry I am working with a man who is so close to accepting Jesus in his life but he is scared of the intimacy involved! He is scared that Jesus will look right down his throat into his soul and that will be uncomfortable. I want to say,
“don’t be stupid, you have nothing to fear”.
But I remember the mouthful of Sheffield steel and hold back. One man’s irrational fear is another’s reality: personally I can accept Jesus in my life but rail against the dentist. I’m so glad I got it that way round by the way.
So I am thinking about how I can help my friend and a few of us are praying it through and then someone sends me an invite to read a blog. You can read it here http://www.cvm.org.uk/blog/the-welford/a-letter-from-jesus/ Nick Welford has the audacity to write a letter from Christ!
Thank you Nick! Of course Jesus looks right into our soul, of course he sees us as we are but we don’t have to be afraid because that’s how he made us. That’s the humanity he shared with us. Thanks Nick, you’ve helped me and my friend.
To paraphrase Nick; Jesus has a gift of grace for each of us and the irrational fear that keeps us from that grace is as silly as my fear of dentists!
One last thought for you engineers out there. How come Nissan, Toyota et al can produce electric motors that can accelerate a compact family car to 60mph in under 10 seconds and in silence; but the motors on dental drills have to be so noisy?