Praying doesn’t always work. My grandmother fully believed in the power of prayer; that’s how my mother lost her molars at an early age.
When my mother began having pain in her mouth as a teen, my grandmother begged all the saints in heaven to repair her teeth instead of taking her to the dentist’s office. My grandmother lit candles and placed them on the makeshift altar in her bedroom.
By the time the pain grew so intolerable that avoiding the dentist was no longer an option, my mother’s molars were badly decayed. In lieu of angelic dental work, my mother ended up having all her molars pulled at the age of seventeen.
It wasn’t until years later a dentist made my mother a set of partial dentures for her to chew her food properly. During the years between losing her molars and receiving her dentures, she was forced to “gum” her food or chew it with her front teeth, which doesn’t work well if you try it.
My grandmother didn’t understand why all her prayers and burned candles failed to fix my mother’s teeth. She thought there wasn’t a problem prayer couldn’t solve.
Even after praying for my mother’s tooth decay failed to provide results, she kept praying until her last days alive. There were always candles burning in her bedroom and a pair of rosary beads wrapped around her hands.
In the end, her prayers couldn’t save her any more than they could save my mother’s teeth, and she passed away in a nursing home ravaged by dementia. Still, I can’t think of my grandmother without thinking of her unconditional faith, and I remember her fondly.
My mother has long since forgiven my grandmother for turning to prayer instead of bringing her to a proper dentist sooner, but she hasn’t forgotten about it. The dentures she wears every day serve as an omnipresent reminder that sometimes prayers need to be bolstered by actions, such as going to the dentist when you have tooth pain.
It’s a lesson my mother learned the hard way, but it’s one that has stayed with her ever since. No matter how powerful prayer is, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. There are some problems that even prayer can’t solve, and tooth decay is one of those problems.
My grandmother taught me the importance of faith, but my mother taught me to recognize when action is required. Praying may not always work, but it doesn’t mean you can’t solve your problems; you just have to take the necessary steps to make it happen.
Life is a balancing act between faith and action. Knowing when to combine the two is the key to success.
What do you think? Comments are welcome.