since i was a kid i have had a small space between my front two teeth. it never seemed to bother me until boys made fun of me when i was in 8th grade. so entering high school i begged my mom for braces. and she caved. as my sophmore year was in full swing i was named homecoming princess, a proud moment since all that mattered in high school was being popular. i had arrived, braces and all. so days before the official crowning took place i ate gobstoppers. i’d chew them in hopes my brackets would pop off. and it worked. i popped five off. i walked into the orthodontist and casually suggested that he might as well take them all off… you know i was homecoming princess and braces weren’t doing a lot for my climbing reputation. so he did. i’m not sure if it was my gobstopper trick that fooled him or if he felt sorry for me. probably the later. my teeth were glowing with the sparkle of the crown upon my head. (oh man, this is embarrassing).
i’m a 30 year old girl who wears a retainer. i am on my third one. the college cleaning lady threw away my first one and i lost my second one in the trash can of a taco bell at the corner of valley parkway and rose. a low moment in my life was digging threw a taco bell trash can. if you want to know how i am doing you can always tell by the space in my front teeth. when i am staying on top of life and taking control of stuff like laundry, dishes, relationships, and dusting, my space is smaller (because i wear my retainer). but when i am slipping the space is significant. i let myself go. i don’t care about being organized, i’d much rather be in sweats watching re-runs of Friends and Arrested Development. i forget about the space between my two front teeth and the chaos surrounding me.
as i was folding clothes today (4 baskets that have been sitting in my room for 2 weeks) i got to thinking about control vs. letting go. cause i’m not good at letting go (minus my household chores. i’m very good at letting that stuff go). i like to control. i control people, situations, my pain, my relationships, and the way people view me. i have a hard time accepting who i am and accepting who other people are. i have an idea of how life should work and i try to control life until it goes that way. i realized that the moments in my life where i have grown the most are when i have learned to let go. let go of control. let go of how i think people should be. let go of relationships that needed to be let go of. and let go of expectations. you see the heart is slow to change and letting go isn’t like tossing a coin into a wishing well and then something magical happens. no, letting go is gut wrenching. it involves digging into the messy layers surrounding my sticky heart and letting a lot of the ugly stuff come up. the heart is thick, full of life, emotion, and pumped full of years entangled with glorified hopes, pride, and the drive for significance. sometimes letting go of the way i intended life to go is more painful than accepting the way life is.
and maybe it is just one of those days where my retainer feels extra snug, but sometimes i feel like i am getting whip lash, flinging between being controlling and letting go. but maybe they aren’t entirely isolated from the other. perhaps both are disciplines in discovering and unfolding the heart, in all things… the past, relationships, pain, and paying bills. that both, control and letting go, are required for a heart to find it’s way out and to let others in. control, for stability and strength to see clearly and letting go, in order to find and receive freedom. it is a bit like floating, finding the razor sharp balance between relaxing and being in control. perhaps both are a needed. both are necessary. just saying that i am a 30 year old who still wears a retainer and that little piece of plastic is teaching me things. now i have to find the meaning behind my junior high acne that is reoccurring on my forehead this week.
(congratulations to my brother-in-law, nate! he popped the big question on a cliff with a piano. it was beautiful. so excited to have a new sister, katie!)
it was an honor hiding in the bushes with the snakes and lizards in order to capture this moment.