I had a complicated relationship with my mother-in-law as did most people. She was a complicated person. But one piece of advice she gave me has served me well.
“Don’t get into the dentist chair before you have to.”
Yes, I thought she was a little crazy. I tried to school my face so she couldn’t see my reaction to her “wisdom”. I honestly thought she had forgotten what we were talking about. Dentist? I was worried about an upcoming project for work.
Ah, wait a minute. I get it! I was already anticipating the drills and needles - the whole root canal if you will, and it was nowhere near time for it to begin, if in fact, there was going to be one at all. I was already in the metaphorical dentist chair and experiencing all the emotional turmoil that goes along with that. Part of why this advice made such an impact is the fact that I’m not fond of going to the actual dentist.
How much time do we spend worrying about something that will never happen? Imagining scenarios that will never take place. A pop quiz that never materializes, a confrontation that doesn’t occur, a reaction that doesn’t transpire.
When we do this, what would have been an unpleasant 20 minute dentist appointment has suddenly affected us for two weeks. And the other thing is, not only have we been nervous and upset for 2 weeks, but we have missed what actually was happening in the moment. We have missed the NOW for the what-might-be.
There is an adage that worrying is a lot like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s a pretty accurate analogy. Has anything ever been solved or even changed by worrying about it?
There are those who believe worrying is a sin because it shows you don’t trust God enough to handle it. I don’t believe that for one minute. Thinking in those terms just gives you one more thing to worry about. We were created with the ability to worry. It’s innate. I don’t think it’s wrong, but I think God wants better for us. It’s more of a challenge, a chance to grow. Just like eating five or more servings of vegetables each day. Easy? No. But with practice and attention, it is totally doable.
So no worries. Go ahead and make your next dentist appointment. Just don’t get in the chair until you have to.