The Light that Flickers Out

I just read a letter that broke my heart. I will acknowledge that my heart is easily broken, and what I’m about to tell you will make most of you laugh. It actually made me cry.

My orthodontist fired me.

The letter came out of nowhere. It said he was terminating our relationship due to my “lack of cooperation with regard to keeping clinical appointments.” He’s not fighting fair—-I never missed an appointment. It is true that I haven’t made one in a while, but I sure as hell never missed one. I told him I would call him to schedule something when I had a day off. In 5 months, I have literally not had a day off during business hours when they could squeeze me in. His office has called me repeatedly in attempts to set appointments, but that’s always during the day when my phone is inaccessible. They had said months ago that they understood, that they would work with me. My account has always been paid in full.

So why do I care? Why waste my time/money/teeth/tears on an orthodontist like this?

He used every appointment as a ministry opportunity. I have never seen anyone so passionate about sharing his faith. I never told him anything about me except the basic demographics, but he somehow knew me. He saw deeper. “Are you trusting God, CC?” he would ask, not even knowing my background with religion. “You can trust him with everything.” Did this man read my journal? “No level of doubt can separate us from him.” I would have more ‘church’ during an hour in that chair with appliances in my mouth than I’ve had in the past year sitting in a pew on Sundays. I never gave a verbal response to the testimony he offered each time. I couldn’t, really, due to aforementioned appliances. I think he planned it that way. Still, it was encouraging. It brought me joy to think that God might speak to me through my orthodontist.

But now this letter sits here next to me. It’s so cold and falsely accusatory. He urges me to seek the services of another orthodontist. Ouch.

But you haven’t heard the worst part.

At the bottom of the letter, in bright blue ink, a verse is printed: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

Of course, it’s printed at the bottom of every letter from that office. And of course, I took it personally. My orthodontist abandoned me in a letter, and then bombed me at the end of the letter with a kind of hopeless verse of scripture when it stands alone—-his final words after all the encouragement that I’m no longer welcome to hear. My husband assures me it’s some software or clerical error, or a misunderstanding. But I think deeply—-too deeply—-about everything. Everything is a symbol that means more to me than what it actually is.

Yes, you think I’m crazy. And I know you’re right. But this was more than my orthodontist firing me. On an already discouraging day, I had managed to say a prayer for encouragement—-and this was the only answer I received. A person I saw as possible evidence that there might be a God who loves me has cut me off with a terse, laconic letter. And in my warped mind, it feels like God cutting me off.

Will the darkness ever understand the light that flickers out?


2 thoughts on “The Light that Flickers Out

  1. I can’t really say anything that will add to this post, but I’m stuck with my whole “like, then comment” thing, so:

    I read this. :0) And I can’t tell you how much I relate to what you’ve written. So I won’t try. But I do.


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