When I was 12, I learned that I had a deformity. My mandible, or lower jaw, was growing faster than my maxilla, upper jaw.
As I reached high school, there was something noticeably wrong with my bite.
This quickly became a huge insecurity for me. While the underbite was only subtly noticeable when I had a straight face, it was easily detectable when I smiled.
To hide my underbite, I consistently avoided smiling with my teeth in pictures.
When I was a high school sophomore, my mom scheduled a consultation with an oral surgeon who, after one look at my X-rays and bite, told us that I was a candidate for orthognathic surgery.
I had heard that orthognathic surgery was always on the table as a solution. I had always hoped that rubber bands on my braces would be enough to fix my underbite.
Another consultation with the oral surgeon made it clear that the surgery was unavoidable if I wanted to avoid complications such as chronic jaw pain or the premature loss of my teeth.
The braces were put on when I was a junior and my surgery was scheduled for December of my senior year.
As December quickly approached, I found myself growing more and more nervous. I was beginning to grow terrified of how the surgery would alter my face.
I was certainly insecure about the way I looked, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t content with the way I looked.
I didn’t want my face to be altered. The thought of going under anesthesia with one smile and waking up with a completely different one kept me up at night.
But, despite my fears, the day of my surgery came.
My favorite verse is Ephesians 6:10, “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power,” and I repeated these words over and over in my head as a mantra until the anesthesia put me to sleep.
I had my upper jaw cut off and then reattached in a position that came over my lower jaw.
The surgery lasted eight hours but was a complete success. The days following the
surgery were very difficult.
My jaw was wired shut, and I was unable to eat. I could be fed only liquids through a large plastic syringe.
During this time of recovery, I found myself relying on God with a desperation I hadn’t experienced before.
I truly did not believe that I had the strength needed to make it through the recovery process.
I was constantly hungry, I could barely talk and I was sick from the various pain medications.
God taught me through this surgery that relying on my own strength was futile. I was full of fear and wanted to give up.
As I gave my frustrations and anger to God, it struck me that I didn’t have to be strong for the Lord—I had to be strong in Him.
As humans, we cannot overcome the various trials that we face in this life alone.
We need God and his strength to overcome our hardships.
God gave me the strength to take recovery one day at a time and even gave me the peace to be a witness to my surgeon and nurses.
Looking back on this surgery, I am so thankful that I made the decision to go through with it.
Not only did it give me the ability to chew and breathe properly, it also helped me realize what it means to be strong in the Lord’s mighty power.