Our six-year old, Austin, has lost four teeth in the past month, but this last one hung on the longest. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tooth that loose that wouldn’t let go. At first, we just knew it was going to come out right away like the others. And then it didn’t. And it didn’t. And it still didn’t.
At first it was kind of funny. We could all joke about it. But it was a front tooth, and the looser it got, the more difficult it became for him to eat. And the more difficult it became to brush his teeth. It was becoming more frustrating for him than enjoyable.
He could blow air through his lips and the tooth would flap like a flag in the wind. But it wouldn’t come out. We even pulled gently on it, but to no avail. When we tried tying floss around it to get it out, it began to hurt too much. And yet that tooth hung there like it could flop out at any moment.
We had planned a s’mores celebration when the tooth came out, and we had already delayed it a day or two. The waiting was becoming more and more frustrating. It was taking all of the fun out of losing a tooth. We had gotten serious enough that we were even praying and asking the Lord to intervene and cause that tooth to come out. Truth be told, I think each of us were tired of waiting.
Then, as the boys were playing yesterday afternoon, it popped right out and landed on Alex’s nose.
There was sudden elation and celebration. I was just waking up from a short nap when I was informed that I had better light the fire because it was time for s’mores… Austin’s tooth had come out. We all rejoiced… and enjoyed a round of s’mores. I think they tasted better because we had to wait for them. In fact, I think our joy over that tooth coming out increased because we had endured such frustration waiting on it.
You know, none of us really like to wait. We humans are an impatient bunch in general. And the longer we have to wait for something… like a healing… or a job… or a relationship… or closure in a tough situation… or for a legal matter to be settled… or for someone to apologize, the more easily we become agitated and frustrated. That’s our choice, by the way, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
And yet, when the dawn finally breaks over a dark night of waiting in our lives, it seems like our joy is greater. So, what if we could learn that somehow, and embrace the wait in light of the greater joy we will experience because we had to wait for it so long?
I certainly don’t have that all mastered… just seeing it myself in light of a loose tooth, and believing that my own joys… my own s’more-worthy celebrations… will be greater and more enjoyable because I have to wait longer than anticipated and longer than desired. And if more joy is the result, well then, maybe I can hang on a little while longer to experience a deeper, more fulfilling joy… and an extra s’more.