A couple of years ago I spent 2 grueling hours in the dentist’s chair to have a crown replaced on my right front tooth.
Back in 4th grade I hit this tooth on the bottom of the swimming pool while trying to show off for a friend by doing a smiling back flip under water. (I know. Whatever you’re thinking, my mom has probably brought to my attention. And now that I’m a mother…well…)
Anyway, I lived most of my adolescence with this slightly shorter front tooth to tide me over until I could get a “grown-up” crown. One day around 1990, I did just that.
And it was a fine tooth. Shiny porcelain that completed my smile as I met many new acquaintances. But over time my gums receded, revealing the black metal beneath the porcelain at the gum line, and I couldn’t bleach it like the rest of my teeth, so it took on a sort of buttery shade that didn’t match my other teeth. Not what I was hoping for.
So I was delighted to receive my new snowy white tooth to improve my smile.
Before I could see this beauty, however, the old crown had to be sawed in pieces by a diamond drill and cracked off my real tooth, which was lurking beneath the surface.
What did that look like?
Have you seen versions of Snow White’s witch?
That’s pretty close.
A short, narrow, brown stump is what I have for a front tooth in reality. It was horrifying. Like an Appalachian witchy woman, grinning over her cauldron at the entrance to her cave.
But that’s my real tooth. This creamy white temporary crown isn’t me. It’s the beautiful cover my dentist put there.
A crown I couldn’t have applied myself. A crown that covers a rotting (or so it appeared), shriveled stump that has become useless and appalling.
“That’s good to remember, when I’m tempted to get cocky about my beautiful smile!” I thought to myself, while admiring my new crown in the mirror that evening.
Then it occurred to me that this crown is like so many areas of my life in which I attribute success or beauty to my own efforts and excellence, when in reality, it takes the support and expertise of those around me to really help me succeed and shine.
I have a brown stump for a tooth, and I’m not ashamed to admit it! Because when I admit that I need help or that I’m not perfect, others fill in for what I lack, and authentic, collaborative relationships result.
Where do you see the value of being honest about weaknesses?