Straightening

I tighten her expander for the very last time. “You ready to get this enforcer … enhancer … expander off?” I chuckle through a grin.

“You finally got it right, Mom. After all these weeks, you finally said it right.” She laughs with the tool still in her mouth.

For the last month, I’ve been teasing the precious thing about the horrible expander in her mouth. I never call it the right thing. Exterminator. Ex-anything. Whatever I can come up with on the spur of the moment. It’s all part of her braces plan, but I feel like I’m torturing her each time I make an adjustment. It breaks my heart to adjust it.

And it actually broke part of her mouth … in order to allow more space for her teeth. I don’t understand it all, I just know it was like a wishing bone … more force placed on it a little each day until it breaks. And when it broke, her face flushed, she could barely swallow, and her mouth went numb.

This morning …

“Mom, what time is it?” She reads to pass the time.

“9:07.”
“What time do we leave?”
“9:20.” She’s ready to go. She’s ready to be relieved.
“Are you ready to go?” I ask.
“Yeah.”

“Are you ready to get that thing off?”
“Yes, Ma’am.”

We arrive at the orthodontist. They take a good look at it.

“We are getting it off today, right?” I ask. So sure.

“No.”

I sit stunned. “I’m sorry, Katelyn,” I blurt out. “I told her it would come off today,” I say to the technician.

“No, it needs to remain longer. If we took it off now, the teeth would revert back to their original locations, and all that movement, all that pain, would have been for nothing.” She pauses. “Don’t listen to Mom,” she teases.

After the technician walks out, I look at my oldest daughter—”Why did I think we were getting it off today?”

“When they said it wouldn’t need more adjusting, we just assumed …” We assumed.

**
 
On the way home, I couldn’t help but think how this applies to life. God allows that little strain, that little pain in our lives to mold and shape us. To press us. Until we break.
 

Until our faces flush, until we can barely swallow, until we feel numb.

It’ll feel like torture.

We assume that life will go right back to normal. We’ll get that expander off, and we’ll go right back to normal. Come on, normal.

 
But if we went right back to normal, there would be no lasting change. We don’t need that kind of normal.
 
And it’s often a shocking realization to have a new normal.
 
We don’t understand it all. We won’t understand it all. But we must trust our Father. Trust that He knows best. How could we possibly know best?
 
We need change. Friend, we need change. O Soul within, you need change.
 
And everyone experiences it, in one way or another. We may assume others are pain-free, but they aren’t. No one is exempt. If we don’t have physical pain, we surely have heart pain. A broken, bleeding heart doesn’t always show through a crisp, starched white shirt.


The pain reforms and reshapes … until we break.

Why?


Because we need more room for growth. New growth.

Because we need to be formed and shaped like Jesus.

Because we won’t love Him like we should, like we could, until we need His healing, His revealing, His concealing tenderness for the broken. Thank you, Father, that my broken heart is all your own.

Because we need to beautifully get it straight.

Because it’s in the straightening that we …

“enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.”—Psalm 100

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