Toothaches, Root Canals, and Skewed Reality

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.

Distorted View

Distorted View

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.

Distorted View

Distorted View

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.

clear view

Clear View

How about you?

Have you ever solved a problem only to find out later your initial diagnosis was incorrect?


13 thoughts on “Toothaches, Root Canals, and Skewed Reality

  1. Thanks, for the post Barb. After being in the hospital twice in less than 6 weeks I find myself still having questions about what the “problem/s” (is / are). Obviously the doctors did their best to treat me and I think they did all that was needed. However, thanks to you and one of (our) mutual friends I am reminded to ask God..”What is the problem? Is there something else going on besides physical issues? What are you trying to teach me?
    I am sure my perception has been skewed, and THAT I had not taken into context, nor thought of to ask God about!
    What you wrote and Sue Ann said to me have helped me to ask the One who knows the answers. And for Him to lead me to whom ever else may help me find the answers, if that is HIS plan!

    In His Grip,
    Deb Cooper


    • Deb – Sorry to hear about your physical issues. I pray the problem is pinpointed and the solution is revealed. I am grateful that while you wait you are choosing to seek the One who has all the answers. Thank you for reading and commenting!


  2. What an interesting analogy! I do find myself bothered by things sometimes, or having a reaction to something that is unrelated to the real issue. Thanks so much for the encouragement! Have a great weekend! 🙂


  3. Hmmm, how much time have you got? 🙂 Seriously, one of the most helpful pieces of advice I have been given since Matt was born, was to resist the tendency to see every challenge and problem as an aspect of disability. Lots of things are universal or at least typical of any young man growing up. It’s also easy to make excuses for ourselves (“if I only had _____ I would do more ________.” In reality, as you describe, that can be irrelevant to the actual problem.


    • Pinpointing the root cause a child’s behavior can be difficult. I find that with our adopted daughter and my step-son. It’s hard to distinguish whether the behavior is “normal” or a residual effect of past issues. Usually it doesn’t matter, but sometimes it affects how you choose to resolve the problem.

      It’s funny you should mention the “if only” scenario. I had something similar to that in my first draft and cut it out to trim the length.

      Thanks for reading!!!


  4. Pingback: Top 10 Posts of 2013 + A Bonus | In the Midst . . .

  5. There are 2 sides to the coin,people get into a rut,they get too sure of themselves and doctors are no exception,at least that’s my perception.I have seen doctors being callous and experimenting for their own glory at the cost of patient’s life.


  6. I read your blog and was like…wow, this is timely. Then I see it was timely last time you wrote about dental work & skewed realities. I have a problem and I have diagnosed the cause of it and the consequences. Somewhere in that reality I knew ( or thought I did) the cause and reason for the consequences….and it wasn’t me. I’m wondering if my skewed reality has had me looking “out” instead of “in”.


    • Hi Beautiful! So glad you commented again. 🙂 It’s uncanny how many times God speaks to me through the same writing/passage over and over. There are times that there are multiple causes to the issues we are taking. I’m sure the Lord will continue to reveal truth to you as you seek His face. Love you & praying for you!


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