Okay, confession time. I hate wearing my retainer. As cute as a glow-in-the-dark, sparkly piece of plastic with a metal wire attached is, I RARELY wear it. I think this is because my hubby will think I am totally un-cute and look like I'm 12. (and I do, even though he denies it.) And when I wear it, I don't want to pray out loud because I sound like I have a huge lisp. haha. The alternative is to put it in after praying, but usually when Amen is muttered, it's only about .4 seconds until I am completely out.
HOWEVER, as tacky as it sounds, I feel so good in the morning when I get to take my retainer out! I feel like my smile is more straight and I can feel confident that I'm doing the right thing for my pearly whites! Oh, the discipline of retainer wearing.
Have you noticed that your retainer is super tight when you try to put it back in after weeks of not wearing it? And that when you wake up your teeth are sore? But when you've been wearing your retainer consistently, you hardly even notice that anything is on your teeth...and maybe you can't even sleep without it! It becomes habitual. You put the retainer in each night without second thought, and your teeth look their best.
Call me crazy, but I have been thinking about how being consistent in our faith is a lot like this retainer routine. When we are getting up early or blocking out time to read the word, digest it, and pray through things going on in our lives, it begins to happen naturally. It goes deeper. It's something to look forward to. In times of life that I've been consistent, I felt like there was a sweet communion between God and me. I felt like he was eagerly awaiting our times together, and I was too. And these times with God, especially over periods of time, yield beautiful results. Okay, so I know it's a super corny comparison. I don't long for my retainer and it doesn't long for me...but stay with me here.
I say all this because having been a Christian my whole adult life, the most common frustration I have experienced is a lack of finding time for or a lack of desire to spend time with God. So, I just think about it a lot. When are the times that I am most engaged in a relationship with God? Definitely in trials, but also times of routine and habit.
When I start skipping out on wearing the nasty slobbery retainer, I definitely don't notice a difference in my smile right away. In fact, it takes awhile for me to notice that my I-teeth are getting a little vampirish again. But eventually, it happens. The teeth move. And even though I know what would change this, I'm just complacent and lack the discipline to get back into a healthy routine. It makes me wish I never got out of the habit in the first place. (Confession #2: what usually causes me to "fall out of the habit" is me losing my retainer. I lose things vigorously. Big. Small. Important. Expensive. Etc.) But nonetheless, I get out of the habit and I need to suck it up and get back IN the habit.
And so it goes with personal Jesus-time. It may not be immediately apparent in my heart and life that I am getting up early to eat some life-bread and pour my heavy heart out to God. My soul won't necessarily be leaping for joy all day or each day I have a "good morning devo". But I know that over time, I will see the results of that in the way that I
Time spend with God overflows into every single aspect of life. It's not something that we can manufacture. It's not something we can fake. People can see through fake-Jesus people. And when we are digesting media crap or gossip from friends all the time, the results will be more of the same. When we daily input "good, noble, right, true, lovely, admirable" thoughts and ideas, we will begin to progressively think and act in alignment with those things.
Anyway, I just think about my retainer a lot because I feel guilty when I look over at it glowing in the dark most nights and still decide not to put it in. It's funny because it literally only takes me 5 seconds to reach over to my bedside table and put it in, but sometimes I'm too vain (for my husband to see me in it..haha) or inconvenienced by doing so, and then I get all whiney when two months later I start to get a weird smile. :$.
Spending time with God=same thing
It may be seriously inconvenient to get up and do it, or to carve out a decent chunk of time for our Creator and God. And the heart results may not be super obvious for awhile. But I think they're seriously more valuable. And I (think that I) love the major brokenness and pain I'm going through right now so I have no choice but to cuddle up to, wrestle with, and soak in Jesus's love more than ever before. I don't love trekking through the deep, rocky valley of the shadow of death, but God DOES draw near to the brokenhearted. (and as they say, this will be another post for another day).
SO thankfully, I am enjoying my God-time more than my retainer-time these days. But I should do that too. ;oD
PS. For those of you who don't have retainers at all...well, 1) lucky freakin' you and 2) I hope you treasure your hassle-free flossing.