I’ve had a complicated history with dentists. When I was young, my dentist was in the “this won’t hurt long, you don’t need a shot, do you?” I did.
Eventually, I found a series of dentists who were offered the understanding and the pain-avoidance (and the headphones playing music really loud) that helped me survive the anxiety. I even go regularly for cleanings.
Which is why I was intrigued at the level of anxiety I was feeling on Wednesday about my 8:00 am Thursday appointment. To save you the reading time, I realized that with the uncertainty of my Wednesday evening chaplain shifts recently, I was concerned about an early appointment. (I’m supposed to finish at 11:00pm, but that doesn’t always happen). Add the uncertainty about rest to the uncertainty about the work in a shift to the old anxiousness about dentists to the cumulative stress of chronic pandemic, and I was anxious.
I know that I ought not to be anxious. Or I can talk with God about it and the anxiousness should go away. (I’ve even written about that peace that passes understanding.)
What I actually did on Wednesday about noon was to call the dentist and reschedule the appointment for next Tuesday, when my calendar is clear and my Monday shift ends much earlier (even on a tough day.)
Sometimes wisdom involves adjusting the things that are within our control to help with our anxiety. Sometimes this includes avoiding the voices that we know always upset us. Sometimes this includes adjusting our schedule. Sometimes this includes resetting expectations. Sometimes this includes taking a nap. And it always includes conversations with God.
I give you permission, though you don’t need my permission, to make changes. And to talk to God.
Here’s an update on my next book project: “God. We Still Need You.”