I’ve been fortunate over the years to have needed very little dental work. Perhaps this made me a bit blasé since, when I went for my recent check-up, I really had waited too long and a filling was needed. Don’t you hate that? Especially annoying is the fact that in the process of drilling, cleaning and filling, a nearby nerve has become very irritated and is still giving me pain.
Anyway, anything can be a prompt towards thoughtful engagement with ourselves and God. Even toothache, as it turns out.
It got me thinking about the ways in which trauma or trials disturb deeply rooted things in our lives, causing us discomfort and pain. Something that we had been unaware of for years suddenly gets bumped or poked and then, there it is, that old flare in a place of wounding or irritation that just won’t be ignored.
What are those places for you?
None of us can escape the shortcomings or misdeeds of others, whether as part of our original families, our educational experiences, or our cultural contexts. Before we get to be very old, we have invariably taken on board some damaging untruths about ourselves - imagined or intended - that take many of us years to undo. We become extremely adept at ignoring or accommodating these areas of soreness, to the extent that we can be oblivious to their effects in our lives. Until something disturbs the root and then, ouch, the pain has a reach that far exceeds what would be expected from the little prod we received.
Ever wondered why you reacted so strongly to some small slight or misunderstanding? Have you noticed any patterns to those reactions? We often blame our personalities, but most likely there is an area of pain underneath that reaction that is usually so deep under the surface that you don’t know it’s there. Often these moments of searing emotion create so much confusion or shame that we do all we can to ignore them, and continue on as before. Could it be that these flashes of awareness are an invitation to engage those deeper parts of ourselves?