I loathe the dentist. Yes, I just said the word loathe. And I’ve told my last two dentists this very thing. Yes, I just said two dentists.
So recently I visited my least favorite place on the planet for a “deep cleaning.” This went beyond the normal cleaning because it’s…well…deeper. And more painful. Oh joy!
Just before the hygienist began the intensive scraping process she asked me if I wanted to wear sunglasses. I declined. Then she said, “Alrighty then, just close your eyes and go to your ‘happy place.’” Deep inside my heart raced. Not only was I under the pressure of the ensuing poking, prodding, and scraping, but now I was under pressure to find my “happy place.” Where in the world is my “happy place”? What in the world is my “happy place”?
My mind raced…probably to keep up with my heart rate and blood pressure. With each passing scratch and scathing of that pokey thing against my teeth, my brain flashed scenes from childhood dentistry fiascos to meeting Barry Sanders on the campus at Oklahoma State University. It went from getting locked in the bathroom at a gas station when I was a kid to sitting on the beach in Charleston, South Carolina.
Seriously. I was all over the map. But, I was trying to relax. Trying to find that blasted “happy place.” I’m thinking “blasted” and “happy place” shouldn’t be in the same sentence, huh?
The weird thing is the hygienist—though she was scraping nasty unidentifiable things off my teeth—she was apparently in her “happy place.” She was humming and scratching…scraping and humming. Go figure!
Since we’re created as emotional beings, I wonder if we can truly control our emotions. When we’re feeling anxious, sad, lonely, or afraid, can we simply push “happy” on our internal emotional vending machine, and instantly receive happy? Is it that easy?
In the Bible, Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet.” In chapter 3 of Lamentations he writes, “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom” (verses 19-20, MSG).
I’m pretty sure if you told Jeremiah to go to his happy place right then he’d struggle just as much as I did. Struggle? Yes. But was it impossible? No. Though he may have felt helpless quite frequently, he wasn’t hopeless.
So where in the world was Jeremiah’s happy place? Where in the world is my happy place…or yours?
Maybe our happy place lies somewhere in the promise of God’s loyal love that never runs out. Maybe our happy place falls somewhere in the truth of God’s merciful love that never dries up. Maybe our happy place rests somewhere in the truth that no matter what we do—no matter what we’ve done—we get a brand new, fresh start each and every morning.
So for me, don’t bring on the dentist. Bring on the morning!
What about you? How do you overcome your anxiety, sadness, loneliness, or fear? What’s your happy place? We’d love to hear from you!