A Course in Miracles tells us “There is nothing to fear” (Lesson 48). Well, I still have fears, but recently I’ve had a breakthrough that feels like a true miracle to me: I have completely overcome my lifelong fear of dentists, thanks at least in part to walking the path of the Course.
Of course, most people have some fear of dentists – it’s one of the most common fears – but mine was especially strong. I don’t know exactly where it came from. I did have a couple of painful experiences with dentists when I was young, so I’m sure that contributed. But it seemed deeper than that. I’ve even wondered if I went through some sort of horrific dental torture in a past life. All I know is that for whatever reason, I had a real terror about going to the dentist.
As a result, I didn’t go to one for years. To avoid going, I took extremely good care of my teeth, brushing and flossing and using that tartar control toothpaste. But of course, none of that home care stuff is enough in itself to ensure good dental health. It became depressingly clear to me as the years wore on that I needed a professional cleaning, I almost certainly had some cavities, and my wisdom teeth needed to come out. There was no avoiding it any longer: I had to find a dentist.
I found one through the recommendation of a friend who told me that this dentist was not only quite good, but very gentle and compassionate when it came to pain. I had actually met this dentist at a party, and she attended a Circle of Atonement workshop. I prayed about it, and got the sense that she was the one for me. With some trepidation, I made the appointment.
For the first appointment, I prepared myself with Course practices to help me get through it. I used “There is nothing to fear,” “I am not a body. I am free,” and “Whatever suffers is not part of me,” among others. I also made a commitment to extend love to the dentist and her assistant, and to be helpful and cooperative with them as they did their jobs. I imagined Jesus there beside me holding my hand, remembering his words from Lesson 70: “If it helps you, think of me holding your hand and leading you. And I assure you this will be no idle fantasy” (W-70.9:3-4). And a dear friend promised to pray for me during the time of the appointment and also imagine Jesus with me.
The result was nothing short of amazing. The dentist and her assistant were professional, kind, upbeat, caring, and compassionate. (If you ever need dentistry in Sedona, I’ve got a recommendation for you.) My interactions with them were truly delightful. The pain was brief and minimal. Absolutely everything went well. I’ve had another visit since then, and it went just as well.
Best of all, my fear vanished, and it hasn’t returned. Oh, I still don’t relish sitting in that chair. There are lots of other things I would rather do. But I have another appointment for this coming Wednesday, and to my surprise I’m finding myself actually looking forward to it a little. I’ll enjoy visiting with all the people there at the office, and I’m excited about getting the rest of my work done, because it has been long overdue and my mouth already feels better than it has in years.
As I said at the beginning, the undoing of this lifelong fear is a true miracle for me. And I know my work with the Course has played a big part in it. Through the Holy Spirit’s guidance (which I’m sure is what led me to this dentist), my relationship with Jesus (whom I think is truly there with me during my appointments), and those powerful practices from my Course “problem-solving repertoire,” terror has been transformed into love. I’m beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, there really is no order of difficulty in miracles.