Friday, September 16, 2011

Life Lesson in a Lost Tooth

This morning Bekeh was complaining at breakfast that her teeth were hurting.  Usually this means she has something stuck and needs to floss, so when she finished up we headed to the bathroom.  As soon as I inserted the floss, her front tooth wiggled like crazy.  Aahh hhaaa!!  Her first loose tooth.  Upon further examination by the tooth fairy, I realized it was ready to come out.  I told Bekeh she was going to lose her first tooth, and immediately the look of complete terror overtook her face.  As I began to wiggle and yank, she began to scream out in pain.  I quickly realized that my biological kids always endured the trauma with anticipation of what was happening, and the reward it came with, but Bekeh had no understanding of this.  To her, this simply hurt and was something she wanted to stop immediately!

One final, hard yank, revealed why it was a difficult little bugger. . . the longest tooth I had ever extracted.  I swear I thought, how in the world is a permanent tooth hiding in those gums underneath with that thing buried in there?

As the blood began to spew, and she's practicing the ritual of spitting and swishing and spitting and swishing, I began to go crazy, jumping up and down, hooting and hollering about how awesome she was, and how cool it was that she lost her FIRST TOOTH!  I was giggling and congratulating her for being an official Big Girl, and kissing all over her tiny cheeks.  She on the other hand, was looking at me like I had lost my mind.  Her pained face quickly turned to bewilderment, and slowly began to turn to curiosity.  Brooklyn soon came in to the bathroom to see what the fuss was about, and her first reaction was pure joy and excitement for her sister.  She held out her hand for a big high five, which Bekeh returned very apprehensively.  I could see Brooklyn's joy registering on Bekeh's mind.  She began to smile a bit.  The kicker came when, fully packed with paper towels in her mouth, she went out to the living room where Nathan, Corban and our neighbor Evan were sitting.  She quietly said, "Hey, boys, I lost my tooth," and immediately they rang out in a loud chorus of, "Really?  How awesome!  Let me see!  That's cool.  Super Bekeh!  That's so exciting!"  She began to give in and enjoy it, returning their fist bumps and high fives energetically.  We called daddy on the phone in Virginia, and she told him with pure joy and a smile on her face, "Daddy, I lost my first tooth!!!"
Bekeh had never watched her older siblings loose their teeth, never seen that the joy it brought was worth the moments of pain it took.  She had never begged with anticipation and excitement for me to check every tooth for signs of the slightest wiggle as her brothers had done before her.  We had not anticipated this, and explained to her what would happen.  For her, it was a scary and painful experience that she didn't want to go through, that is until others around her changed her perspective.

How often do we behave the same way?  I was talking with a sweet, sweet, dear friend of mine last weekend about all of this.  And what a beautiful example God provided me this week in a lost tooth.  Our children are blank slates.  They do not know how to be afraid, to be offendable, to be hurt by things in this life, to be conquerors, to be joyful in the fire, until we teach them.  Especially with our adopted children, whose life book was written so strongly by parents who are no longer around to explain their storyline, we do not get to pick and choose what is part of their plot.  We are handed a set of circumstances and must teach our children how to deal with them.  We must also show them how to handle criticism, racism, diversity, loss, grief, freedom, joy, love.  It's in these most difficult parenting challenges that I have to turn to my God for my example.  How did our Father teach His one and only son to deal with it?

Hebrews 12:2 NLT teaches us, "We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne."

Jesus solved our Sin problem on the cross, He also solved our shame problem. It says He disregarded or despised all shame, meaning He didn't even let it in, and we must do the same. To the degree that God is present in any situation, there is no shame, because God does not operate in shame. We cannot teach our children to be ashamed of their story, we can't teach our children to be ashamed or apologetic for their past, their present, or their future. We must teach them to be more than conquerors, to let God into every situation so that shame flees and redemption and freedom whooshes in. To see every fire as a refinement, every pain God allows as a purifying gift, and endure with overcoming joy the trials of this life. We teach and model for them. We must celebrate and recall God's rescue and redemption more than we focus on the attack the enemy waged against us.

2 Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

I love Bekeh and I knew that the amount of pain she was going through was going to be worth the joy. That the relief the tooth being out would bring her over the next couple of days would be worth the temporary pain this morning. She didn't, but I'm her loving parent and she needed to trust me.

How I wish I could see the throne of Heaven and the mighty armies of angels who celebrate with me and my family when we are enduring pain and trial. How I wish I could see them giggling, kissing my cheek, hooping and hollering, high fiving me for the next step into maturation that I have just taken. But although unseen, I know they're there, and my heavenly faith and sight changes my perspective. I have to teach that to my children, model it, live it.

In all this, Bekeh still didn't know the best part was coming. She still had yet to understand the reward that will be under her pillow tonight. I know the tooth fairy, I know how she rewards extra for those teeth that were a little more stubborn and painful than others. I know how she rewards the trust and faith she sees. And she's just an earthly gal. How much more does our heavenly Father look forward with anticipation to rewarding us for the trials we endured without shame, with joy, and with a heavenly perspective. I just get goose bumps thinking about it, anticipating it. It almost makes me feel like I'm six years old again with a really wiggly tooth.