My Boyfriend and My Retainer

(Pic of me as a 15-year-old with braces)

I have a story to tell you all, with some Gospel lessons mixed in; but before I dive into a story that involves my boyfriend, let me just update you on some life news.

I have a boyfriend! His name is Brian. We met on Bumble (an online dating app). He lives locally, loves Jesus, respects me, and is pretty great at communicating. We have been official since August of 2019, and I thought maybe you all would like to know that.

I had my first kiss! Brian gave me my first kiss, out by the pool one day. That’s a story in itself, but suffice it to say that I had to do a ton of processing about the fact that I’ve lost my “never been kissed” identity. (It’s pretty great, not gonna lie.)

My roommate got married! My roommate whom I blogged so much about, and who even wrote a surprise guest post one time, met and married the love of her life. After 7 years together, we’ve been living in separate houses about 35 minutes apart from each other since December, and let me tell you – it’s weird.

Now that the life news is over, I present to you a story of how God worked in my heart and mind this week to reveal some idols and pride and point me to Himself.

I was over at Brian’s house on Monday evening, and when I got home (I live 15 minutes from him), I realized that I wasn’t wearing my retainer. I checked my purse, but I was pretty sure that I’d left it at his house (don’t look at me like that; I was eating a salad, okay?). I texted Brian to see if he could look for it, and then I tried not to stress out and went to bed.

The next morning, I got a text from him that he couldn’t find it; it wasn’t in my leftover salad or on the table or couch. I was pretty sure it was at his house, because I was pretty sure I had been wearing it when I left home the day before. But him saying that he couldn’t find it made me feel so helpless. I am unusually emotional nowadays, and we all know that being completely out of control of a situation makes me cry. So I actually started crying in my kitchen while I was trying to make breakfast.

I couldn’t take it. I drove to Brian’s house to look for my retainer. My head was full of worst-case scenarios. What if his cat took it outside? What if his dog chewed it up? What if it was lost for good in the yard, and I never got it back? What if we never find it? What if I have to replace it? I don’t have money to replace it! I’m saving money for a wedding, gosh dang it, I don’t have $500-600 for a new retainer! I only have one orthodontist appointment left, and it’s in about 10 days. What if my teeth move too much in that 10 days, and I have to spend a ton MORE money to fix the damage that 10 days without a retainer can do?! (You get the idea.)

I was so worried. I knew I was being controlled by worry, but I thought that if I did something to make me feel less helpless, I would feel better. I got to Brian’s house and tore apart the couch. I found the flashlight that he had lost, roughly 6,342 LEGO bricks of his son’s, and a fair bit of garbage, but I didn’t find my retainer.

I didn’t know what to do. I hate that feeling of not knowing what to do. I stood there in the living room with a hand in my hair and a lost look on my face, and the retort I saw on Brian’s face died on his lips. He gave me a big hug and told me he’d keep looking for it and not to worry.

I drove home, and I worried anyway. I texted my parents and friends to pray for me to find my retainer. I couldn’t focus on work. What if…what if…what if…kept running through my head.

I knew I needed to get my mind off my retainer and onto Jesus. I prayed and reminded myself that Jesus saw me in my plight. I sporadically threw prayers and worries God’s way, and asked to see some sort of Gospel truth in my situation.

I was feeling so helpless, partly because I couldn’t find my retainer anywhere, partly because I couldn’t remember when/where I had taken it out, partly because I hated not being able to trust my own brain, and mostly because I didn’t know if I was going to have to pay money for a new one and not be able to afford to feed people at Brian’s and my wedding.

And then it hit me. Through some praying and processing and a conversation with my (new) roommate, I found the Gospel.

You see, I wasn’t the only one who had ever felt helpless. Jesus, the very son of God, who had all power in the universe at his fingertips, chose utter helplessness on the cross to meet me in my most helpless state (my inability to get to God on my own). Not only that, but he paid a much, much higher price than I would ever pay for a retainer or a wedding. He paid the highest price (his own life) so that he could one day take me as his bride.

I also had to confront some sin (and not just the sin of worry) in myself. It has been a point of pride with me that for 20 years, I haven’t lost a retainer so badly that I couldn’t find it in 5 minutes or less of looking. It ALWAYS turns up – in my purse or my retainer case or a napkin on the table or the trash…

But this time, it didn’t turn up all day. My roommate helped me look through the kitchen trash; I dumped my purse upside down on my bed; we looked all through my room; I checked my car with a flashlight under the seats (twice). How could I lose it 10 days before my final ortho appointment? How could I be so stupid? What if my teeth become crooked again? What if my teeth become ugly, after 28 years of trying to get them to be pretty? Why do I care so much about this?

My spiraling slowed throughout the day as I recognized my sin and repented, and as I was reminded by the people around me that “whatever my God ordains is right” and that God saw and knew my plight – and not only that, he cared about it. I knew that if he cared about the sparrows in the field and the hairs on my head, he cared about my teeth, my retainer, my wedding, and my feelings about everything.

I woke up the next morning (after two whole nights without my bottom retainer, which was more than I’ve gone in 20 years), a lot calmer and thankful to Jesus for revealing my sin but also for revealing his grace. I was still concerned about everything, but I knew I would go to the orthodontist soon and make a decision about a getting a new retainer, and God would provide the finances I needed for whatever he wanted me to have (he is, after all, my Great Provider).

And then Brian’s son found my retainer in the kitchen floor, underneath the counter by the sink. Is God good or what?

The end.

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