We went from this:
Side note: Hannah asks that you disregard her messy hair. She had just gotten up from the orthodontist's chair.
Two years ago Hannah's mouth got pretty crowded when those things went in. She had a pretty good overbite that required a Herbsts appliance for the first year and then just plain old regular braces for the last. She had been waiting for this day!
To some extent I had been waiting too. I remember the day I took her to get them put on. It bothered me a lot more than I thought it would. I remember sitting across from her as they glued them down. When she flashed me her smile, my insides screamed, "TAKE THEM OFF!" She looked different and I didn't like it. I had fallen in love with the kid with the imperfect teeth. It was hard to see her any other way.
It wasn't that I didn't want her overbite corrected. It wasn't even that I liked her teeth the way they were. It was that I had just allowed something that was going to alter her in some way. It felt strange and I wanted my good old familiar back. It was an emotion I had never really felt before and one I'm not sure I can adequately describe.
It took some getting used to for both of us (although hers was more painful - I will admit). That appliance was so cumbersome in her little mouth. It made her look different. It made her sound different. It made her hurt. The short-term thinking mom in me wanted to take her right back and have it all removed. But the long-term thinking mom knew this would be in her best interest. A little discomfort now would have lasting benefits later on.
Isn't life a lot like that? Aren't there painful things we would prefer not to live through, but we know that going through them will pay off down the road? So often God takes us through the valleys of life on our way to the mountaintops. In the valleys He does for our character what those braces did for Hannah's teeth. He corrects, shapes and positions. Sometimes it's painful. Sometimes there are tears. But one glorious day we hit the mountaintop and look back and know that every minute was worth it.
Just like Hannah felt yesterday.
Yes, this mama's heart hurt with her when those braces went on, but it also rejoiced with her the day they came off. I've never regretted sticking with what I knew would be best in the long run. But those times I've given in to short-term happiness have never paid off. Be sure to stick with what you know is best, even if your kids (or yourself) are asking you do do something different.
Beautiful smiles await us all if we're willing to walk those valleys on our way to the mountains.