Last week I had a root canal. I’ve had a toothache off and on for months. I knew exactly which tooth hurt, the second to the last one on the bottom left (that’s tooth #19 for those of you who count teeth). My local dentist finally sent me to an endodontist (a specialist in root canals).
I explained to the young gal with the endodontic degree (Does she really know how to fix teeth?) how it hurt, when it hurt, and which tooth was the culprit. She listened patiently before telling me she was going to run a few tests to see which tooth was giving me the trouble. I thought this to be an unnecessary step but was in no position to argue. She found, to my astonishment, that the pain was radiating from a different tooth than I believed it to be. (It was tooth #18.) She said that sometimes we “feel the pain forward.” Though I was still skeptical, I chose to believe her because she was the expert performing root canals all day long. So I opened my mouth and let her do her thing.
My perception of my world was not reality. Had I let her “fix” the tooth I thought was the cause of my pain, I would still be in the same situation in which I started—only angrier and with less money in my pocket.
Sometimes, in life, we don’t live in reality. We think our unhappiness (read:pain) comes from a particular event, possibly a spouse leaving or kids misbehaving or a job that doesn’t pay enough. You name it. Maybe you believe that if you were taller, thinner, more creative, drove a better car or lived in a different location you would be happier. We search for the answer to our alleged problem. And when the solution doesn’t work we become frustrated.
To accurately deal with a problem, we must thoroughly understand the truth or reality of it. We must dig to find the true source of our discontentment and unhappiness. As the endodontist did on my teeth, we need to run diagnostic tests. Look at the problem from a different perspective. Ask questions. Ask for advice from a trusted believer.
Run to God. When we ask Him and open our hearts and minds to His wisdom, He will reveal the proper origin of our grief, sadness, or depression. I have found, many times, that instead of outward circumstances, selfishness, a skewed perspective or idolatry is the root cause.