Thurs., Nov. 8, 2018

Romans 12:2 – Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.

I anticipated a normal, run-of-the-mill dentist appointment. It didn’t quite turn out this way … and I’m the one who ended up learning a lesson in the process.

Would you like to hear the story?

Good. I’d like to share.

I had a dentist appointment this week. Two-and-a-half hours before the scheduled time, the office called and asked if I could take an appointment in 30 minutes. The problem? I live 30 minutes from the office. I needed a few minutes to pull things together. We agreed that I would be at the office in 45 minutes.

I arrived exactly in 45 minutes. As I was checking in, the receptionist got a little hesitant look on her face. “Just so you know, Sara is out sick today. You’ll have one of the other hygienists today.”

I did not do a good job hiding my feelings. Let’s just say my body language, as well as my verbal response, let her know exactly how I felt.

dentist tools

Here’s the deal. I don’t really go to the dentist. I go to see my hygienist Sara. Until this week, she is THE ONLY person who has cleaned my teeth in like 25 years. When Sara switched clinics, I switched clinics. When Sara switched dentists within a clinic, I switched docs. When I make an appointment to see Sara, she schedules a longer-than-normal appointment because she knows we’ll need additional time. It is amazing how much of life can be shared in 60-minutes, even when I have instruments in my mouth at least part of the time. This is how it is. It has been this way for years.

I was less than diplomatic when I shared with the receptionist that I had just traveled 30 minutes to a rescheduled appointment, at their request, to find out Sara would not be my hygienist? Had I known Sara was unavailable, I would have simply rescheduled the appointment.

Then, out came Jo, who would be my hygienist for the day. In the 45 minutes it took for me to get to the clinic, Jo read my chart. She realized that I don’t come to see a particular dentist. Every six months, I come to see Sara.

Jo apologized profusely. She felt bad that I had gone out of my way to fit a time slot that worked for her. Standing feet from the little room where I would have my teeth cleaned, it didn’t make sense to reschedule the appointment. I simply followed Jo back to the room where Sara always cleans my teeth.

I knew this appointment would be just fine. I had just planned for the appointment to go one way and it turned out different from the little plan I had in my brain.

I pride myself in being open to change. More often than not, I’m the one advocating for an open mind or a new way of thinking.

That is, until my dentist, no, my hygienist, appointment was changed.

Together, Jo and I, decided to make this appointment a good experience for both. Honestly, Jo did a great job. She is a wonderful lady who took time and care with my teeth and gums. She followed the same cleaning procedures that Sara does. She chatted right along, knowing that this is what would normally happen between Sara and I. Jo shared things that possibly Sara and I might have discussed.

As normal, Dr. Brad spent just a few minutes looking at my teeth and declaring them good for another six months. As Jo wrapped up my appointment, she loaded up a generous goodie bag for me to take home.

What did I learn while sitting in the dentist’s chair as Jo cleaned my teeth? There have been many times in my life when I’ve been in Jo’s shoes. Someone really would have preferred a different pastor to handle a particular occasion … and they ended up with me. Or I stepped into a situation mid-stream. I tried to replicate how someone else might have handled the next steps to make a person feel more comfortable and probably failed. Many times, something happened outside of my control and I was the one who tried to make peace with the affected person.

A different hygienist for the day was perfectly fine. I hope that I’ve made a new acquaintance. I pray Jo can look beyond my initial rudeness and accept my apology for not concealing my feelings better. But in the end, maybe it was OK to be honest about how I felt. It allowed for us to have a meaningful conversation. We chatted about how we appreciate those consistent people in our lives, even if we only see them a couple times a year. We talked about faith and how it is a part of our daily lives. I commented about how I probably wasn’t being the ideal witness of my faith while at the dentist office, also sharing that pastors deal with real life, just like other people.

Jo at Dentist

The next time I’m at the dentist office, I hope I run into Jo and Sara. Maybe we can all have a few minutes to chat and catch up … and see the beauty of an unexpected change at the dentist office as an opportunity to grow.

BTW – hope you’re feeling better, Sara!

For daily opportunities to learn about myself, I am grateful.

Holy God – thanks for being patient with me when I don’t handle a situation as I should. Forgive me for being rude and thinking of only myself.  I pray that we can take unexpected opportunities in our lives as truly times to grow and deepen our faith. Amen.

Blessings –


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