I'm 35 years old, and at the dentist this week, they recommended a procedure for me called a gum graft. I thought about linking pictures of gums that need to be grafted here, but I will spare you from that! Basically, the gums of several of my teeth have been eroded so much that the root is exposed and bone loss is occurring as a result. If I don't have the procedure, my teeth will become loose and fall out. As you can imagine, this isn't a typical 35 year old's mouth.
I could not get this upcoming surgery out of my mind as I ran yesterday morning. Though I was trying not to, I got onto myself for brushing too hard all of these years and for rubbing my tongue over gums in the back of my mouth to the point of erosion. These behaviors have been a part of my anxiousness and my need to be hard on myself for years. As I mentioned here before, I've had an eating disorder where I just about delighted in being hard on myself and feeling myself be worn away a little more each day. Being too hard on myself comes with the territory.
And then my thoughts turned to how running is another area where I allow myself to be worn away. Specifically, I thought of a recent family member's double knee replacement and about how each visit with this person was accompanied with tales of how running will do the same to me. Thinking of my knees being slowly worn away while I was doing something that I loved that very moment brought me down.
I thought of my running shoes which for whatever reason show tons of wear after about 150 miles. Shoes that provide the cushioning, stability, and protection for my feet, legs, and body! Many people find my blog by searching for this very topic (this is my most viewed blog entry!). They, too, want to know how to keep their shoes from wearing out so quickly and thus possibly damaging their bodies. They want to fix the problem.
The thing is: our bodies are not meant to last forever. They will wear down. They will wear away. Yes, I can do what I can to slow down this process and I can and should try to live pain-free, but I am not going to live forever no matter how hard I try! The idea that my teeth may fall out and my knees may give out upsets me, but why should it?
My thoughts turned to a Bible verse and about what God has to say about the brevity of our lives:
13Go to now, you that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. 15For that you ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. [emphasis added]
I find peace in knowing that God didn't intend for my body to last forever. I love the imagery---that our life here on earth is but a vapor! It speaks to me so much to know how short this time really will be in all of eternity.
But I still must honor Him by respecting the body He gave me. With anorexia, I was a slave to starvation. As I became healthier, I was able to enjoy the foods He gave me. I restored much of the damage I had done to my body. With my teeth and gums, I will do everything recommended by my dentist to save my teeth. For now, it's a special fluoride rinse and a hydroflosser each night, plus the awareness of what I'm doing to damage myself.
With running, awww running. It's so hard to know what is "too much" there. Part of the reason that I run is to ease my anxiousness. I feel God's presence on my runs. So what can I say? Maybe I am wearing down my knees and my shoes too much. See here for an entry where I reflected on some of high mileage running's possible harmful effects. How do we really know?
So today my gums eroded just a tiny bit more. My knees' cartilage wore down just a fraction of a degree more. The scuff on the bottom of my shoe got the smallest bit bigger. Another 24 hours ticked away in my precious and fleeting life. But in the realization of these things, my hope and reliance on something even bigger increased. My need for God's salvation and my eternal life with Him was felt even greater than before. My thankfulness for my eternal life and my heavenly body free from age and pain increased.
And finally, thanks to the wonderful healing power of 45 minutes of tough running and uninterrupted thoughts, my problems with my eroded gums seemed a whole lot smaller.