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Authenticity, Mother Teresa and “A Really Good Apology”

June 22, 2022
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There was a time when some Christians felt the need to appear like they had it all together.  As though living an abundant life in Christ was a formula you just had to plug into and what emerged was someone who demonstrated equally all the fruit of the Spirit, all the time.  And while we might strive to be that endlessly selfless and giving person to our patients, it’s a little harder to keep that image up with the people we spend the most time with.  Naturally you might think of those you live with, but there’s also what someone in my office described as our “work family.”

My patients would hopefully not see me failing to “act like a follower of Jesus” during their appointment, but my team can read me well and sometimes they see me struggle. Maybe my voice changes slightly or my facial expression gives it away (behind the mask/loops/face shield?!).

I’m likely the only Christian dentist to show impatience at work, so I will share a personal example. My sister, with whom I practice, was vacationing in Florida—while I was working in frigid Nova Scotia. Three hygienists had just advised me they needed me for a checkup. Some of you get a heightened sense of empowerment from that line of hygienists—I am not like you—this gives me a special type of throbbing pain in my head. However, I am a follower of Jesus (and a professional getting fairly compensated for my time.) So, I smile and strive to do a thorough check on each patient (don’t leave out the soft tissue check!) while my restorative patient chokes on their own saliva under a rubber dam, hopefully with no resin that will snag the floss when I finally return.

And then the fourth hygienist appears. I clearly, obviously, roll my eyes in a dramatic manner and then (out of hearing of the patient) sigh heavily and mumble like she’s a problem. As Mother Theresa might have done when more lepers kept showing up and she had no food or beds left to offer. (I have issues….)

We don’t always meet up at the water cooler at my office—sometimes we meet in sterilization. This is where I find that fourth hygienist, someone who knows I call myself a Christian. It’s too late for Philippians 2:14, which says, “Do everything without complaining and arguing” (NLT). So, I went with, “I am so sorry. I forgot for a moment that I am not actually a princess, just a dentist.” And now if she wants to engage in a conversation about original sin, I can use myself as an example.

Katrina (Kate) Brouwer, DDS

About Katrina (Kate) Brouwer, DDS

Dr. Katrina (Kate) Brouwer, DDS, has recently joined Christian Medical & Dental Associations of Canada as the Dental Ministry Manager. She has been part of a family practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia for 27 years. Kate is married to Tom, and they have two adult daughters. She enjoys time with their labradoodle, gardening, and teaching in children’s ministry at their church.

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