I have a confession to make. Before last Friday I hadn’t been to the dentist in over two years! Yes, I know that’s really gross, but the last couple years have been a little crazy for me. I guess I just haven’t thought that taking the preventative step of getting my teeth cleaned and properly inspected was worth the time it took away from other areas of my life. Well last Friday proved that theory to be wrong. Very wrong.
As I was in excruciating pain, palms profusely sweating, backside sliding off the chair, I began to realize that prevention may not be all that bad after all.
I found out that prevention is necessary for long-term health and happiness. I also realized that often times we sacrifice prevention for short term pleasure. We choose to avoid what can be tedious, time-consuming and tiring over preventative steps that help us out in the long-run. Basically we end up increasing our chances of getting sick by avoiding the pain that prevention often brings.
We all are on a journey to find health. For some it’s a deeper spiritual health, a more balanced physical health or emotional health. Others, like me are battling diseases that want to see us depressed, desolate or better yet dead. So for all of us to reach this goal of ultimate health, prevention is necessary.
Here are a couple things this last trip to the dentist taught me regarding prevention.
Prevention must go deep
About half-way through my cleaning the hygienist pulled back and proceeded to tell me that I had signs of early periodontal disease. She then highly recommended that I have a “really deep” cleaning and that it would involve lasers. Yes, lasers! The laser, she told me, would clean a layer deeper than the normal instrument, therefore preventing my disease from getting any worse.
Same principal holds true in our lives. Sometimes we’ve got to dig really deep to prevent ourselves from blowing up. Whether the goal is to stop watching porn, stop telling lies or stop banging heroin. It doesn’t matter. The remedy is the same, a thorough and ongoing self-examination.
It takes comprehensively completing your step work, openly sharing your heart in a small group or meeting, calling a friend when new emotions surface, choosing to step outside your comfort zone, saying yes to something you used to say no to. Healthy living requires us to go beyond the surface level. We’ve got to go to the heart level. True prevention goes deeper.
Prevention must be intentional
When the hygienists began using the laser she did so with intentionality. She was hyper focused on a specific area between my gums and my teeth. If the laser happened to touch any other area the pain was sharp and intense. And I would normally blurt out a partial cuss word and kick my left leg in a spasm type manner. But by focusing on the thin area of risk, she was able to successfully prevent any further damage from taking place.
The same goes for our lives. Preventing a bad habit from coming back or preparing for a change in behavior takes an intentional, laser-like focus. We need to deal directly with the issue at hand. The person, the place, the thing, the habit, the circumstance, the kid, the emotion, the sickness, the fear, the failure, the grief, the shame!
Whatever the core issue is, we need to spend quality time diving into those painful areas. The more we are able to define what the bomb is in our lives, the more clearly we will be able to understand how to dismantle it. True prevention must be intentional.
On the journey to health, pain is almost an inevitable speed bump. But have hope, the more you dig deep and focus specifically on the areas of your life that cause you pain, the closer to health you will be.
As for me, I’ll be focusing on flossing twice a day from here on out… No more lasers!!