One of the advantages to knowing 90 year olds is that you benefit from their extended meditations on life.
Ed Ball is a 93 year old retired Dentist who specialized in Periodontal work. He’s a man of science and a deep man of faith.
Ed told me a story about a woman who suffered from Tempromandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) – a condition that leads to intense pain in the jaw and sometimes an inability to open the mouth.
This woman’s husband was an accomplished dental surgeon. He operated on her several times, but to no avail. He sent her to some of his best colleagues. No results. The pain was even worse. One colleague went so far as to remove the ball and socket joint of the woman’s jaw.
The pain persisted.
There was only one thing that cured the woman’s pain.
She divorced her husband. The jaw pain went away.
Ed’s conclusion was that the stress of a failing marriage was the real cause of this woman’s pain. She was internalizing all her stress, and it was coming out in the weakest part of her body – in her case, the jaw muscles. All the medical work that she went through simply added more strain to an already deteriorating relationship.
It would have been less costly to go to marriage counseling.
As Ed and I reflected on the story, we talked about how many times (though certainly not all times) our physical problems have much deeper roots. We talked about how spiritual answers are sometimes the best medicine to our physical ailments: forgiveness, trusting God, practicing lovingkindness. The wise person attends to these deeper spiritual needs, thus heading off a whole constellation of difficulties and miseries – like the unfortunate woman of Ed’s story.
So trust me, it’s a beneficial thing to have relationships with older, wiser people. You’ll learn a thing or two.