It had been a busy day. I left work to take my daughter to her first orthodontist consultation. All I was thinking about was the work I needed to get back to, and my growing impatience at having had to wait so long to be seen. Little did I know what was to come.
When we finally got in, a simple panoramic x-ray was taken of my daughter’s teeth. Then the mood changed. The orthodontist started asking my daughter all sorts of questions, the sort that weren’t typical for someone getting braces. He was asking about pain in her jaw, her last dental appointment, and if she felt discomfort while eating. He motioned me over, put a latex glove on my hand, and had me touch her lower left gum. “Do you feel that?” he asked, looking at me with an intensity I didn’t quite understand yet.
“Not really,” I answered, confused, “but I’m not really sure what it is I’m supposed to be feeling for.”
“And your dentist didn’t say anything to you at her last appointment? He didn’t send you a referral to a surgeon?” Confused, I shook my head no.
At this point, I realized something was wrong. The dentist was doing his best to keep the mood light for the sake of my daughter, but he was communicating something far more serious with his eyes every time he looked at me. He then showed me the x-ray, and the large, black mass in my daughter’s lower left gum line. The baby tooth above the growth was largely eaten away. The adult tooth below it had been pushed almost completely through the jaw bone. I heard words like cyst, teeth extractions and surgery. I privately asked him about some other words, like cancer and tumor and growth rate, possibilities that were confirmed.
The next few days were a blur. It’s in times like these I step back in awe at the kind of quality people God has placed in my life. The surgeon didn’t have an opening until February. Many people prayed while my dear boyfriend pulled several strings, and she was seen just three days later. Throughout those three days, I had knowledgeable people giving me all sorts of potential scenarios, some of which were every bit as scary as you could imagine.
The night before our consultation, one of my closest friends asked, “How is it that you’re so calm? Are you sure you’re okay? I mean, this is a big deal!”
It was hard for me to put into words how I wanted to answer – it still is, really. But I answered by sharing a phrase I had picked up somewhere along the road: “Don’t borrow trouble.”
You see, at this point I had a good idea of the worst case scenario, but I also knew it could be something that was relatively simple to correct. I didn’t go out onto the internet researching all the what if’s. I didn’t give a lot of mental energy to the what if’s either. Certainly I had my moments, especially in the beginning when the news was fresh and the tears flowed. But I kept hearing God remind me that He would protect us through this trial, and I made a decision I wasn’t going to borrow trouble – I wasn’t going to worry about things that may never materialize. If there was a bridge of deeper challenge I would have to cross, I would take my daughter’s hand and we would cross it together with God leading the way. Until I knew I had to cross it, however, I chose to pray a lot, I asked others to pray a lot, and I laid it all into the Master’s capable hands.
Barely a week after that initial appointment for braces, my daughter was being wheeled into surgery, in good spirits and determined to focus on others. I don’t think there was a person involved in her care that she didn’t ask, “So how is your morning going?” or “How are you doing today?” She wasn’t worried; she was calm and confident. I felt so proud. And God did answer many collective prayers. We got the best case scenario we’d prayed for. She would be back to normal with minimal impact in 4 to 6 months.
As I sat there afterwards, praising God through joyful tears, I remembered the times in my life where that hadn’t been the outcome. I thought of my dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis, my son’s significant speech delay that would take years to overcome, a close friend who didn’t make it through the accident and surgery. We, none of us, know what direction our path will take us, what challenges or opportunities lie around the very next bend. Yet one thing I do know, one thing I have learned: God is good. He is gracious and He gives us the strength to get through life’s challenges in a way we could never get through on our own. He places key people at the right times in the right places to give us that word, those few sentences, that similar experience or that thoughtful gift that shore up our soul and remind us we’re not alone. He shows us that scripture or shows up in the sermon or lesson we hear that was exactly what we needed in the moment. Sometimes it’s as simple as giving us that beautiful sunrise or sunset to remind us He is in control, and beauty still exists.
So what about you? What are you tempted to borrow trouble from? Is it your next career move, or your children? Is it your dating life, or your fear for the future? It could be something as big as our current political environment, or as personal as how you’re going to get your next meal for your family. Whatever it is, take it to God and let it go. As Jesus reminds us, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:25-26). Remember: God will give you the strength should you need to cross that bridge. Don’t own it until He asks you to.
For Further Thought: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight,” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Can you think of a way you tend to borrow trouble? Consider making time to offer it up to God and asking Him to direct your path during this season.