Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lent Is Like A Root Canal

Ok, maybe that's exaggerating things a bit to say that Lent is like a Root Canal...Or is it?
Ever had a Root Canal?
They stink!  
(And that's putting it nicely)

On the other hand, Lent really doesn't stink.  Yes, it can be a somber reflection on the death of Our Lord but it's also a sober reality of the price that was paid for our sin.  Lent has come to be my favorite time of year for tending to spiritual growth.  I love Lent so why the connection to something so dreadful?
*It has a lot to do with Letting Go and Living Lent*

In my case it begins with penance.  I tried, OH yes, I tried to "offer it up" as they numbed half of my face (all the way down my throat) and stretched that plastic balloon (or whatever it is) over my mouth.  Talk about feeling a little choked out and tied down for 2 hours, listening to that horrid grinding, scraping, and drilling. Sheer torture, I say!
I think I'd rather have 2 C-sections in a row than a root canal.  Ok, ok, maybe not 2.  
Some people might just think I'm being a big baby but it really was awful.  I've had several of them and each time I am reminded how much they stink.
I think God had a good chuckle as I proclaimed that I had made my full Lenten Penance after that;) 

Regardless of our penance, Lent is certainly a time when we need something stronger than ourselves to break through our pride and false sense of control.  Some of us...ahem...need a bigger knock than others.  I suppose I'll take it as a compliment that the Refiner loves me enough to have pity on me to keep working on my weaknesses, rooting out my sin that never fails to keep sprouting.  Fasting anyone?  Yep, He took care of that one too...Humble Pie is served!

Thankfully, I leaped up and grabbed my Rosary before they started the procedure.  I clenched it with white knuckles from beginning to end of the 2 hour ordeal, praying as many Hail Mary's that I could muster up.

All of my hopes and plans to begin Lent "my way" were quickly blown to the wind as I've struggled with tooth pain the week prior to the dreaded root canal and it continues post root canal today.  My Lent certainly began (and continues) with prayer...Just not the kind of prayer I had intended.  You know, 'quiet' reading somewhere?  Nope, didn't happen, nor did my Consecration renewal that I was looking SO forward to.  I'm still sad about this one and hard on myself that I should have persevered through the pain...

As I layed in the dental chair with my heart racing from the side effect of the numbing shots, the weakest part of me prayed for trust. 
Despite strong faith, my trust must be lacking...I truly needed to trust that God has things under control and I really don't.  Surrender, maybe? 

Regardless of what we have in mind for prayer, God always sees fit that we are redirected to the prayer that is best for us.  Lent is a time to be looking for these directions as we reprioritize or reevaluate our prayer lives.  If we pay attention, He always points the way.  We may not always like it and sometimes it takes a root canal to see, more clearly, the direction we need to go.  I am constantly re-learning the fact that things do not have to be "perfect" or go as we have planned to be GOOD for us.

This must be what God wills for me this Lent...All those things that I had in mind must not have been in the bigger plan...Not an easy thing for me to sink my teeth into (literally).  I suppose I needed something more to get my attention, something more that would pull me in closer.  Apparently I needed to be reeled in!

Well it worked. 
The pain continues in a forceful way and no relief in sight quite yet. 
However, Lent continues in a beautiful way.  Without going into detail, lets just say that God places amazing opportunities to go beyond ourselves in these circumstances.  He presents others who are in greater need than self...Practices of almsgiving have been presented in ways that I could have never planned myself.  Any plans that I had prior to Lent are new and not my own.  I am grateful beyond words.

Maybe Lent isn't really like a root canal but I do think that a root canal is good analogy of how God can work with us, refining us, sculpting us, making us new, even through our weaknesses...

I am constantly reminded that no matter the size of our daily challenges, amazing grace is there waiting to erupt through the groans of our human trials and pain.  In the case of Lent, it has been an epiphany for me that Lent isn't something we do but something we should live. We need only to do one thing here and now and that is to
*Let Go and Live Lent*


  1. Hang in there!!! (You described me and my experiences to a T). Thank God for the rosary!

  2. He cleanses us from the inside, like a root canal!! (we who've had one know the dentist goes into and pulls out the dead root and inserts the balm... the thing that will heal that tooth, preserve that tooth!! ) what a perfect trial you are undergoing Tiffany. I love to remind myself, that God always sends us the best crosses, the ones we are in particular need of at that time in our lives. God bless your Lent. thank you for the reminder that we are to nevermind those other plans we each had; we are each living it exactly how God wills as long as we remain open to His directions! :)

  3. I had dental work too, yesterday, and prayed my way through the rosary with iPieta on my iPhone. Not that I was very engaged, but better than lying there in sheer terror. I hate dental work.

    Last year during Lent I had a root canal...just before Holy Week. I would seriously rather have a surgery. And the pain continued for weeks and weeks -- a weird nerve-like pain. I think if I was told I needed another I might have my teeth pulled and get dentures!

    I pray your pain goes away very soon. If not, you certainly have a built-in penance.

  4. Praise God for the gift of Lent and every single trial and root canal that comes our way. You've inspired me to make my much need, long delayed dental appointment! I need extensive work but it is a great suffering. He allows exactly what we need. God is so good. :)

  5. What a beautiful comparison, Tiffany! Lent can be like a root canal at times, can't it? Even to those who go into with wonderful ideas of penance, almsgiving and prayer. We all go into it with our own ideas, but, it is truly He who knows what our Lent will be like if we just give in and let Him take control :D
    I am so sorry you had a root canal, sweet friend. I have had a few myself and it is NOT fun at all. I am concerned that you are still in pain though. Is it just residual from all of the agony your poor mouth went through, or do you think it is still the tooth that was worked on? If the nerve was removed you really should not be in pain.
    I love the idea of saying the Rosary at the dentist! I absolutely HATE going to the dentist. I had a horrific experience the first time I went when I was a child and it traumatized me for life.
    I hope you are feeling better soon :D

  6. my dentist told me that if I hurry, I may not have to get a root canal... you are making me want to get in there right away! It sounds aweful!! Also, I can see the analogy there too... if you visit the dentist regularly, you may be able to prevent needing a root canal... if you visit your Lord regularly, you may prevent needing AS much cleansing as those who do not. Then there are those with the perfect teeth no matter what they do... lol I hope you feel better soon!

  7. I had a root canal redone a few months ago, yep, it isn't fun! It was better than when I had the original one done many years ago. Thankfully dental procedures have come a long way. I must have said a million Hail Mary's too. I was too distracted to really pray a rosary, but I sure hope Mary understood considering the circumstances! I hope your pain goes away quickly, if not be sure to call the dentist, my pain was pretty manageable right for the get go. I've been praying for you.


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