I was in the dentist’s chair, with a bright young hygienist holding her tartar scraper (the little metal thing with the sharp point), ready to go to work.
“What kind of speaking do you do?” she asked.
I wanted to be careful. She had the scraper. I had nowhere to hide.
“For Christian ministries,” I said. “Fundraising events.”
“Oh! What kind of Christian ministries?”
I was stuck. If she didn’t share my views regarding the sanctity of life, she held the pointy thing. Things could get uncomfortable in a hurry. But I couldn’t lie, even to save my gums. I decided to take my chances, telling her what our ministries are all about.
She wasn’t angry. She didn’t put down the pointy thing, but she wasn’t angry. I was relieved.
Then, she smiled. “Our church helps a center like that,” she told me. We both knew the center, and suddenly we had a connection.
There was more. “When I was sixteen, I was pregnant,” she continued. Then, she talked of her boyfriend—glowingly—who became her husband. They married before their child was born. She kept working toward her high school degree. Then, on to be a dental hygienist.
Her husband? He gave up an athletic career to stay close to home.
“He said all the traveling wasn’t going to be good for our family. He wanted to be a good dad. He wanted to be with us.”
She scraped at my teeth, and it wasn’t painful at all. I would mumble a word or two as she talked. She went back in time to tell me of her mother’s immediate reaction, which was to tell her she would have to deal with the pregnancy alone. She became an emancipated minor, so just she and her boyfriend drove to the courthouse, found the justice of the peace and pledged their lives to each other.
In between rinsing, I asked how things are with her mom today. Thankfully, all is good. They gather together often. Her mom is a doting grandmother. Thinking through it, she told me the emancipation “was the best thing that could have happened to me. It made me grow up when I needed to.” No regrets.
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Her little baby is 11 now. Another daughter is six. She and the boy who took her to the courthouse more than a decade ago are still happily married. Very much in love. She adores the man who gave up possible fame for her and a baby—to build a family.
For me, going to the dentist is not a major issue. There is the scraping, the buffing, the flossing. No big deal. But not a vacation, either.
But on this day, sitting back in the chair was like hanging out in a La-Z-Boy. Listening to the story of a mom who chose life, and of a dad who chose family—made my day.
At bedtime, Jenn and I ask our boys to tell us something they appreciated about the day. Usually, I don’t throw in my “favorite thing.” Yet that evening, I had something to add. “I liked going to the dentist,” I told them. “I think I made a friend today.”
All of us need encouragement, those times when a kind word builds us up, giving us the energy to press on. Sometimes, these words of encouragement come through stories. If we listen—we’ll find these stories in the most unexpected places.
Tweet This: “All of us need encouragement, those times when a kind word builds us up, giving us the energy to press on.” @KirkWalden #prolife