Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chosing Pain

I started a new journey today: Invisalign orthodontics. In just about 12 months from now, I will have straight, pretty teeth. I suppose they are pretty now, but not as straight as I'd like. I hate to admit it, but I actually did have traditional braces in junior high, but they were taken off too soon and it didn't take too long for my teeth to move back quite a bit.

So far, this is pretty darn cool. The whole thing is done with the clear, plastic trays that you wear all time time, except when eating. Each set of trays lasts for two weeks, and then you switch to the next set. I've already gotten to see digital imaging of how my teeth will change. This is pretty cool technology!

Improvement is painful, and yet, we need to make a purposeful choice to go through that painful process. I excitedly started this process today, knowing that I will experience a lot of soreness in my mouth, and a bit of inconvenience. I considered my options, and I decided to endure a year of mouth-pain to win the prize of straight teeth. This is true of many physical things. My husband needs to get his wisdom teeth taken our this year. We know it will have a good outcome, but we also know it will be a hard, painful, trying process. I think childbirth (and rearing) and the greatest examples... we joyfully accept the pain, the changes, and the massive inconveniences all for the greater benefits we will receive in adding to our family.

How immature would we be to avoid the painful process altogether - never enjoying the better outcome, for fear of the short-term pain. How often does short-term pain keep me from growing?

We frequently do this in our spiritual lives. Sanctification is painful, but the outcome that God has in store is better than we can even imagine. Are we willing to endure the painful process? It takes realness with God, vulnerability. We need to ask, to listen, and then to DO. Do I want to become more become? I can bet my pride will be challenged. Do I want to become more patient? I should plan on waiting a lot. Do I really want to jump in to these painful processes?

It's become pretty easy for me to value the long-term benefit over short-term pain when it comes to physical things. I can endure painful teeth and nursing my husband after his wisdom teeth are pulled. These are tangible things with tangible outcomes.

May God help me to value the long-term benefits over short-term pain when it comes to spiritual things; that I will so greatly value His final prize, that there would never be a question of the trade-off.

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