When I was 11 years old, I desperately wanted to have glasses or braces or both. My friends and I would talk about it at school. It would be so cool to be one of “those” kids. I would look at my bottom teeth, and I was sure I needed braces to straighten them up. On a routine visit to my dentist, my mother asked him about the possibility of braces for me. He looked at me and said that although my teeth were crowded, there was really no need for braces. “After all”, he continued, “She’ll never be a beauty queen.” Obviously, that statement has stuck with me. (And before you get all bent out of shape, my dentist was not being cruel. In the early 70’s not everyone got braces. Only the most crowded, out of alignment teeth endured the torture of the orthodontist. Cosmetic orthodontia was something that only those with dreams of the competing in beauty pageants or performing on stage would receive. That was not where I was headed and thus the comment. )
I was disappointed that I would just be a normal kid with crowded lower teeth. Later that year, I would get my wish and bifocals! And so began the next phase of my journey, explaining why I wore bifocals and trying to get “OUT” of wearing glasses. Through the years, my love affair with glasses has changed. As a high schooler, I decided I wanted contact lenses. The optometrist told me that I could see “too well” for contacts and to just wear my glasses when I needed them. So, I went to a part time glasses wearer. After college, I pursued the contact lens idea again and wore them for several years. But, I could see almost as well with them as without them, so I went back to my glasses. I’ve bemoaned the expense of glasses and the inconvenience. And, I’ve come to accept that I can neither read nor drive without my glasses. They are no longer an option for me. I have my “regular” glasses, my computer glasses and my sunglasses. All are important to me.
There are so many things throughout a life time that we believe we really need. Through the years, my “needs” have changed. Many times, I’ve applied the “beauty queen” reality to my “need”. Do I really need this to complete my life? Do the benefits outweigh the struggle to get it?
Sometimes, I’ve answer with a resounding yes. I’ve never regretted getting married. I’ve been married, widowed, and married again. I’ve been blessed with two fabulous husbands. Life as part of a couple is difficult. Marriage is my ‘beauty queen” moment. It’s worth every struggle, every tear, every sacrifice to celebrate the joy and the fulfillment of being with my husband.
Sometimes, I realize I don’t really need or want that desire. There are so many relationships that crumble and fail. Many times, the failure is rooted in spending more time looking around than looking inward. There was a time in my first marriage, when our kids were both toddlers that I began to look around at my single friends and the freedom that they had. They didn’t have to hurry home to take care of kids. They didn’t spend their “extra” cash on kid’s stuff. It was a dangerous time for me. Discontent was ready to swoop in and take over. But, I was reminded that I was on the “beauty queen” track. All the struggles were worth it in the long run. I just had to focus on the goal.
And, there have been other times that I pushed forward anyway only to regret my decision. Have you ever wanted that new car that was just a little out of your price range? Or what about the bigger house? Or maybe a snazzier wardrobe? It’s easy to get caught in the trap of “keeping up with the Jones’”. You spend too much money, you over extend, you cheat on your spouse. You ignore the path you’ve been following a veer off in another direction. You throw caution to the wind and pay no heed to consequences or costs. It’s all or nothing, come hell or high water. You lose sight of the crown and pay the price. There’s no do over. There’s only the choice to pick up and move forward, to get back on the right track.
My dentist knew the pain that would come from braces. He knew the best orthodontist in the area had a reputation for being mean. He knew I was not destined for the beauty queen stage. As a result, I’ve lived my life with a perfectly good set of crowded teeth. I’ve never had braces.
But, I keep hearing about the new invisible braces that come through the mail. . .
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.Matthew 6:34 MSG