My little one’s molar has been hurting her for months. She’s already had a root canal (we definitely needed to invoke the Bad Day Mantra on that day), and still, the tooth pain won’t relent. Yesterday, the dentist prescribed an antibiotic to ward off infection.
“But we can’t pull that tooth,” he explains in his office. My daughter listens, wide-eyed. “That tooth is a space-maker, a place-holder. If you pull it, every other incoming tooth will crowd toward that space, and her mouth will really be in trouble. Nothing new will come in right. I’d like to keep that tooth there for as long as we can.”
I nod. The little one nods.
“It’s about timing,” he says. “I can pull it, but then we’d have to design a spacer for her mouth, and it won’t ever be as great as what God made naturally.”
I smile. He’s talking Dentist Theology now. He tells me it’s often normal for molars to ache while the new teeth underneath emerge. Just wait. A good thing is happening.
The sore molar as a “place holder” to keep everything in line, to make things work as they should, stayed with me the whole day and into the night. That troubling sore point in my life–whatever it is–might just be the place holder to keep things right until the new thing comes. Could I begin to see those dark years as space-makers and place-holders that ushered in present joy in the right space, at the right time?
The ache keeps things aligned. It makes a space I need.