“I don’t like my new smile!”
My son had been avoiding food all day because his first-ever wiggly tooth was quite wiggly, enough to make eating anything difficult.
Besides that, he was afraid. He didn’t really want to lose a tooth. He liked his teeth, his mouth and his smile just the way it was, thank you very much.
Also, what if he lost a tooth while eating and maybe swallowed it?
So much fear.
When the tooth did come out after all, after he had been brave for a few seconds and his dad wiggled it right out, my son smiled and held quite still with a push of courage. I thought it was total victory.
Then he cried….and cried and cried.
He didn’t like his smile. He really wanted his smile to stay exactly as it was before.
So much grief.
I gave a gentle mom-speech about how much I love his smile, and his new smile just means he is getting bigger and growing up.
He told me, “That doesn’t fix my feelings.”
He did say, though, that a cold treat like ice cream would actually “fix his feelings,” so one bowl-full of Edy’s cookie dough ice cream later, he had finally calmed down. That’s when he wiggled his other bottom front tooth and told me that one is also pretty loose. So, we get to do this all again in about a week.
I feel for my little guy because change is hard for him, change is hard for me, and we’re changing a lot at the moment.
I feel for him because we’re all grieving a little. We wanted all the beauty of life as we knew it and planned it and instead we’re living a new and unexpected #stayathome life.
I feel for him because no matter how many times we promise him that a new tooth will grow into the empty space, it doesn’t feel real. Waiting feels like forever. He can’t see the new tooth and he can’t mark the calendar with the date of its arrival. So maybe it will never come.
This is where I found myself so often this week. I know in my head that one day we’ll walk out of our house, we will hug our sweet church family at a service we’re all allowed to attend. Our kids will play in soccer teams and perform in plays. They will sit in classrooms with their much-loved teachers and their friends. We will write an event on the calendar and it won’t be canceled.
We will rejoice. I mean, truly, truly party.
But I’m starting to feel like maybe that will never come. This new reality is THE reality and hope of anything better is a little hard to hang onto when we’re three weeks into this and our governor keeps changing the end date.
I find myself thinking….
“IF we get to go back to church….”
“IF we’re in school….”
“IF we get to see the concert and the plays we had tickets to…”
“IF we get to spend some of our summer going to museums, parks, water parks, and the beach….”
This week I’ve been reading in the book of Deuteronomy and I’m sinking deep into this sweet reminder that the Promised Land was not “IF” it was “WHEN” for Israel.
Deliverance wasn’t “IF” it was “WHEN.”
Fulfillment of God’s promises wasn’t “IF” it was “WHEN.”
In chapter after chapter of Deuteronomy, God tells Israel:
“When you cross the Jordan and live in the land the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and he gives you rest from all the enemies around you and you live in security…” (Deuteronomy 12:10 CSB).
“When the Lord your God blesses you as he has promised you…” (Deuteronomy 15:6 CSB)
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, take possession of it, live in it…” (deuteronomy 17:14 CSB)
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you…” (Deuteronomy 18:9 CSB)
My son can trust that his new tooth will grow in. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it may even take longer than he wanted to wait. But his hope is rooted in a trustworthy assurance–it will come. It is a “When,” not an “If.”
David wrote in Psalm 27:
I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart be courageous.
Wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:13-14 CSB).
I sing it with the Psalmist—I am certain. I can fully know. I have confident hope.
I will see the goodness of the Lord, not just in heaven, but here in this life. That is the reminder I need to be strong, to be courageous, and wait.