When Sin Starts to Fester: Removing Splinters From Your Life
Out of all the injuries I’ve ever had, the worst, by far, are splinters. I know what you’re thinking. I’ve broken my arm twice in one year, spent months recovering from painful surgery. Spent hours sitting in a hard classroom chair on a bruised coccyx. (Which is no laughing matter, I might add!) And splinters are what make me break out in a cold sweat? If you think that - you’ve never had one shoved through your fingernail. (I tip my hat to the people who remember and survived that fateful day.) I got a splinter once when I was at elementary school. It was days before I let anyone mess with it. They asked me a lot of questions: Why didn’t I try to take it out myself? If I couldn’t, why didn’t I seek help immediately? Hadn’t I noticed the splinter? Did I think it would just fall out naturally? Didn’t I know it would only get infected? All I knew was that it hurt, but I didn’t want to risk it hurting more if I let someone touch it.
*Note: What I’m going to say next has hit me hard. When writing, I talk first to myself, and then to others. And, of course, I’m going to try to bring it back around to anxiety (or worry or fear.)
I can’t see someone else get a splinter, or even hear them talk about getting one, without remembering how it felt to have that splinter finally yanked out of my hand. I shudder just to think about it, but I had an odd thought a few days ago that I wanted to share with y’all. Do you know why splinters freak me out so much?
You get cut in the kitchen. Wrap it in a towel and go get the bandages. You fall down and break something. Go to the ER and get a cast put on it. Splinters are tiny little slivers of wood that can puncture your skin without you noticing, yet they can dig down deep until you can’t see them from the surface. If you get at them quickly enough, you can usually pluck it out right away. But if you don’t notice, or you don’t get to it fast enough, or the initial puncture was deep…good luck. That reminds me of something.
There always seems to be those issues that get buried under your skin. You had an earlier warning…here it comes…one of mine is not controlling my anxiety. That weakness can turn into a deadly flaw soon in that it leaves you vulnerable and you don’t even know that you are! Oh, the number of things I’ve obsessed over, done or not done, said or not said because that splinter has worked its way deeper into my heart.
You want another example? How about sin. Here’s one that isn’t easy to ignore, but difficult to wipe out: lying. You don’t think much about the little lies. Sometimes they’re not intentional, but when does “not intentional” turn into “unavoidable.” I’ve felt that sneaky little splinter before and it’s not so little. I’m guilty of falling into a belief that it would hurt more to take it out than it would to just leave it be. But then it slips further in and becomes infected, and that’s hard to miss.
I could just go on and on about this metaphor. It brings some disturbing images to life, but I think it also forced me to take the time necessary to examine my conscious and note the splinters that I’ve been trying to cover up with a band-aid. And as someone who prefers flight over fight, I’m going to have to be better at facing the issues in my life head on. I took some much needed advice and encouragement from Psalm 32: 1 - 5:
Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD." And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Remember these questions: Why didn’t I try to take it out myself? If I couldn’t, why didn’t I seek help immediately? Hadn’t I noticed the splinter? Did I think it would just fall out naturally? Didn’t I know that it would only get infected? Did you think it would hurt less to pull it out now than to let it sit? What’s the answer?
Honestly, this line of thought brings up some hard questions, but taking the time to think about this does matter. The splinters have to come out one way or anther. Days, weeks, months, a lifetime…they’re all going to come out. I’d rather do it willingly instead of kicking and screaming.