Friday, April 19, 2013

It's Like Pulling Teeth

The two front teeth grew a little wobbly last November, sending this mother into a panicked rush to schedule the family Christmas pictures before those prominent pieces of enamel came out. I hadn't been prepared when the bottom front teeth were loose enough to bend forwards at a ninety degree angle, had quite forgotten how quickly they can go from loose to missing entirely.  This time, I wasn't taking any chances.

Yet, after the bi-annual family portraits were hanging on the wall and tucked inside all the Christmas cards, I actually welcomed this rite of passage, a sign my little boy was turning into a little man.  Husband and I laughed as we envisioned the Christmas Eve festivities including a very snaggle-toothed Wyatt lisping to "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth."

We waited.  But those teeth never grew any looser.  If anything, they tightened their hold, grew an attitude, determined to not come out.

After that, Wyatt would remind me occasionally that the front teeth were looser, would open his mouth crocodile-wide some afternoons for me to trustingly slip my thumb and forefinger around the tooth for a gentle jiggle.  I always humored him, then smiled, said "not yet," and told him to just leave it alone.  During the winter months full of flu, pneumonia, and stomach bugs, the "not yet" sounded more like "Are you crazy!?  Get your hands out of your mouth!!  You'll get sick from germs and then you'll make mommy sick, and we all know what happens when mommy is sick!"

One month turned to four before he started the persistent complaints about not being able to pierce the skin of each afternoon's apple snack.  The tooth was too jiggly.  Eating on the other side or chewing with his molars wasn't working well either.

Yet, Wyatt was firm in one resolution--he was not pulling these teeth.  Not ever.  Daddy wasn't going to pull them either.  And Opa?  Wyatt wouldn't even open his mouth around him, too frightened by his big, weathered fingers and rough-tough stories of string attached to doorknobs. 

I just shrugged.  Fine by me.  They would come out when they came out.

By this past Sunday, though, I knew Wyatt was going to need to re-evaluate his strategy.  Still, I agreed this wasn't the time to pull anything.  Monday through Wednesday were his big "Iowa" test days.  Even though the standardized test didn't "count" for anything, there was no way I was going to encourage him to put an aching crater in his mouth.

Those few days were spent screwing up his courage, I guess, because by Tuesday night, he begged his daddy to pull it.  Husband said it wasn't loose enough.  Wednesday night after church found Wyatt begging his daddy again, but husband still said it wasn't loose enough.

At that point, Wyatt took matters into his own hands so that after the twins' baths, husband had no choice but to break the one remaining root free from its gummy home.

A little over twenty-four hours later, I awoke to a note from husband saying he had pulled the second tooth before school this morning.  Wyatt had stood on the bathroom cabinet, one foot in the sink, his face inches from the mirror, working that second front tooth back and forth until husband had no choice, again, but to make the final tug.
As I held that second tooth, turning its smoothness over in my hand, I wondered how this could happen so fast?  How could a little boy so dead-set against anybody pulling his teeth suddenly shift to begging his daddy to do just that? Where did he find the resolve? The courage?

2 Corinthians 12:9.

" My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Our greatest fears, our greatest heartaches--it is God who gives us the strength we need, His power.  But only when we need it.

I've watched this week's horrors of the 2013 Boston Marathon, mourning with the parents who lost their 8-year-old son.  I've prayed for the thirteen families who will now have to find a way to move forward after the plant explosion literally blew their lives apart.  I have been daily mindful of the hundreds more involved whose lives are changed forever, who will need miraculous strength, super-human strength, to move forward.

We don't have the strength within ourselves to move not one step forward.  That's why we look at the tragedies and say, "I don't think I could go on."  And we're right.  We couldn't.  Not in our present state anyway. God didn't grant us blanket grace to survive all the horrors life throws at us. 

All strengthening grace is individual.  All empowering grace is daily, on an "as needed" basis. 

Even a six year old boy's young life speaks to me of such great truths.

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