When Katie Grace lost her first baby tooth a few months ago, she refused to let her mother, or her Nahnee or Papa, pull it. After she did it herself, she refused to let the “Tooth Fairy” have it. She wanted to keep it as a trophy of her determination and self-reliance. She didn’t use those words. She just knew she did it herself.

Grayson’s story is a bit different. At the ripe old age of eight, several of G’s milk teeth have already found their way into the T.F.’s collection, and Grayson has received his due reward for each. So at this point in his life, the loss of a binary tooth is no big deal. So the manner in which one of his teeth is extracted has to be different in order to make the list of special events.

One of my grandmother’s favorite expressions was “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

Well, I never skinned a feline, but I believe I know what she meant, and one application to that adage would be that there is more than one way to remove a tooth. Perhaps you have heard a few suggestions, such as tying a string to the tooth then fastening the other end of the string to a door knob; or get in a fight; or wiggle it ’til it just falls out; or grab it between the thumb and forefinger and give it a yank; or use your tongue; or go to the dentist’s office and let a professional do the job.

“Like pulling teeth” is another saying many of us have heard and used over the span of our lifetime, and that was part of the heading that accompanied a picture of our son, Stephen, and his son, Grayson. The texted image portrayed G with a mouth full of tissue paper and a grimacing expression that screamed, “VICTORY!”

Stephen is standing beside him with a tool in his hand that holds a tiny white object. A grin on his face says, “That’s my boy!”

The complete caption stated, “Pulling teeth with a pair of pliers (leatherman)…just another night at the Playl Jr. household.”

Responses to the text included one from Katie Grace’s mom, “Oh my!!!Grayson is so brave!!!”

Another aunt said, “Love that brave boy!!!”

Nahnee’s reply, accompanied by an emoticon with tears rolling down its face, was, “COOL! Tooth fairy needs to be generous on that one!”

I was reminiscing too much to send a response. In my mind’s eye was a picture from the past of my father, electrician’s pliers in hand, offering to help me with the removal of a tooth or two. As I recall, I never let him clamp his pliers on any of my deciduous incisors, cuspids, bicuspids, or molars; although he did jerk a few out with his fingers.

Who have you trusted to pull teeth? Daddy? Momma? The dentist? Only yourself?

Pulling teeth is a pretty big occasion, sometimes, but a much bigger question is who do you trust with your soul? Twice the Psalmist wrote, “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust…”

Psalm 31 begins with these words, “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; deliver me in thy righteousness … deliver me … be my rock … my house of defense to save me.”

The first couple of verses of Psalm 71 offer this plea, “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be put to confusion. Deliver me in thy righteousness … and save me.”

In pulling teeth, we might do it ourselves or trust a parent or professional to do it, but when it comes to our soul we must follow the Psalmist’s example and put our trust in the Lord.

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Steve Playl — chaplain, columnist, college instructor and former pastor — can be emailed at playlsr@yahoo.com.

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