Jennifer Preyss-Mathlouthi is an award-winning faith writer and columnist.

The other day, I watched a video of a small child preparing to lose one of his baby teeth.

His parents tied one end of dental floss to the wiggling baby tooth and the other end to an open door.

The boy’s little brother, ambivalent to the drama, stood nearby playing with a foam sword.

As the parents comforted their boy, who was now crying and shaking and yelling out, “I’m so scared,” the door remained open, awaiting the final countdown until Mom slammed it shut, thereby pulling out the tooth.

It was painful to watch the little boy cry. He was afraid of the unknown, the impending loss of a tooth he’d grown accustomed to and, of course, the pain.

It was going to hurt, or so he thought.

And the longer he stood there dreading what was to come next, his fear and worry climbed and more tears streamed down his face, all the while, his parents assuring him gently and lovingly that everything would be OK.

Before the door could be slammed, the little brother who was playing with his sword nearby took one giant slash to the middle of the string, tugging out that tooth before anyone knew what happened.

No pain, no blood, not even a completion to the original plan of pulling the tooth out from a slammed door.

The boy, whose tooth was now on the floor, stood there laughing and excited – realizing all that dread and fear over losing a baby tooth was for nothing. He wasn’t actually afraid of losing the tooth; he was afraid of the unknown. He was afraid of the new plan put before him, unable to determine if it was the right way, and he was scared it would cause him pain.

As I thought about the little boy, I realized how many times in life we all experience this same kind of fear. I thought about all the many times I’ve cried out to God to fix something or move something or make something better, all the while worrying about the outcome.

I thought about all the times I wanted to hold onto something that had reached its expiration date, something that was otherwise as useless as a wiggling baby tooth, because I thought I wasn’t ready for the next phase of life or the bigger and better thing God prepared to give me.

I thought about all the times I’ve been so scared about some big change coming up in my life, only to get past the threshold and realize it was pure joy and necessary for my growth.

The video of these parents helping their son lose a tooth also reminded me that even when I have a good and well-thought-out plan and I’m all strapped in and ready to move forward, God still may come along with a mighty sword and unexpectedly interrupt my plan for something better.

No one in the video expected the baby tooth to be removed by the little brother’s sword, but it turned out that was the best possible plan for the entire family and included the least amount of pain for everyone.

Whatever you’re going through this week, whatever fears you have or dread you’re experiencing about the future, or taking that next step, remind yourself how many times you’ve walked through a life change in the past and come out better on the other side.

Remember how many times you feared the unknown more than the change itself and how little it mattered to worry.

Remember how many times in your life you can look back and realize God was there the entire time and had a better plan all along.

Let go of those baby teeth, those useless mementos you’re holding onto that are keeping you from experiencing God’s plan.

As soon you let you, the sooner you can slam the door on the old you and experience the joy of the next phase of life.

Jennifer Preyss-Mathlouthi is a thought leader on religion trends and global issues. Email her at jlpreyss@vicad.com or follow her on Twitter @jenniferpreyss or jenniferpreyss.work.

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