Brace Yourself

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. – 2 Chronicles 16:9 When I was growing up, I wore braces on my teeth for six years. As I was sitting in the dentist’s chair the other day, I was thinking of those years and how they relate to our Christian lives.

Now keep in mind, this was during the days of “full metal jacket” braces. No invisible retainers for me, either! Oh no, I had a full-on headgear retainer. Let’s just say there is no such thing as a good hair day with one of those puppies. But I digress.

The first thing braces can teach us about our Christian lives is that change is painful! Before my braces could be installed, I had to have all of my remaining baby teeth removed, so that I was only moving permanent teeth. Then when the braces went on my teeth, the real pain really began. I had so many days when I was practically in tears, almost unable to chew with the pain of those teeth being slowly moved into the right alignment.

If they had not been cemented to my teeth, I doubt that I would have had the perseverance to get through those first couple of months. Looking back, I realize that those months of pain were proof that the braces were working. We all want to just be able to make a wish and have our teeth straightened, but the reality is that true lasting change requires pain. And if we can get through that relatively short time of pain, it will ease, and in the end it will be worth it.

The second thing my braces remind me of is that change takes time! Those months of pain were only the beginning of the journey. It took 6 years for my teeth to pull fully into alignment, and during all of that time my teeth were covered by shiny metal plates and wires.

I could not see any improvement. I simply had to trust that the braces were doing what they were meant to do. Quick fixes are often fleeting fixes. For the change to really take root and last, time is an important ingredient.

The final way in which my braces remind me of my Christianity is that once they were removed, my teeth slowly began to shift back to crooked. Not all of the teeth moved, but some are now crowded and crooked again. The only teeth that seem to be as fine as the day the braces were removed are those backed by my permanent retainer.

It’s the same in our walk with Christ. The minute our support is removed, the world crowds in to push us back out of alignment. The only way to keep this from happening is to keep our support in place! This is why we need daily renewal, to plant his Word in our hearts so that it is constantly with us.

Brace yourself today with plenty of prayer and time in the Word! Accept the painful times as times of alignment, and recognize that our time frame is not God's time frame.

Then smile and be proud of your shiny braces. Braces are beautiful!

Dear Lord, please cement your Word onto our minds. Brace our hearts with your Spirit. Help us to remember through times of pain that you are at work and it will be worth it. In Jesus’ Name… Amen

Shelly Hendricks is a wife and mother of 2 amazing kids. She was a teacher and a librarian in another life. She also suffers from Intracranial Hypertension, Interstitial Cystitis, and Essential Tremor, among a myriad of other issues mostly stemming from these three. She had brain surgery in 2012, to install a VP Shunt, and now considers herself to be a ‘bionic woman’ who is learning to walk again. Disability has been hard to deal with, but she depends on God for all strength and hopes to encourage others on this journey, through her blog at http://reneweddaily.com