Note: This week, I will be sharing stories of my emotional journey. I think we often misunderstand or neglect emotional health. God has been working on this in my life. All of these are intended to tell what happened to me, not to tell you what to do. They are anecdotes NOT advice. You have your own journey and have to do your own research. Feel free to share your stories in the comments or in an email. I would love to read them!
Sometimes life hurts. And sometimes it happens through no fault of our own. In fact, we may be hurt in return for doing something good.
Such was the case of my oldest son one afternoon. He was cleaning his room with the rest of his siblings and scooted under the bed to pull out a few stray toys. In the process, a piece of wood from the flooring broke loose and planted itself firmly under his toenail. Down to the nail bed.
Yeah….that’s probably enough detail to give you a queasy feeling in your stomach. Imagine how my husband and I felt pulling it out. After an emotional, gut-wrenching (for us), terror-inducing (for him) half hour, he was finally splinter free. Or so we thought. We poured in some trusty hydrogen peroxide and sent him off to play with a warning to not go under the bed again.
A few days later, despite our applications of peroxide, his toe was red, swollen and warm to the touch. My doctor-phobic husband looked at it grimly and said, “You’d better take him in.” I made the appointment.
The doctor looked at it and said he had infection in his toe and he would need an antibiotic. I faithfully administered it, and the toe started to look better. However, I knew I had to finish all the medication, so I kept giving it to him. One day 9 of the 10 day dose, my son woke up with most of his body covered in a rash.
Another doctor saw him this time and confirmed that he was allergic to the first antibiotic and would need a second one. So, I faithfully administered this one for another 10 days without the accompanying rash this time. I checked that off my to do list, and went on as normal.
A few days later, my son was dressing for bed and scraped against his toe nail. He came to me and told me the nail still hurt pretty bad. I looked at it and his toe looked just as bad as it had before. When I looked closer, to my surprise, a piece of wood had worked its way out and was now visible and accessible under the nail.
I pulled it out and snapped a picture of what we now call the $100 splinter which is what we ended up paying in medication and doctor visits by the time it was over. What two parents and two doctors failed to see cost us not only money but cost my son weeks of discomfort. One small little piece of wood left to fester.
I think of that now when I am hurt. Not just when I get a splinter, but when words jam into the sensitive places of my heart. When someone’s actions prick me. The initial pain smarts, but I remember what costs the most. What costs me in time and discomfort of the soul is the times I replay the hurt.
Do I have the right to feel hurt? Yes, I suppose I do. It is a natural thing to feel the recoil of pain when I am unjustly treated.
Do I have the right to stay hurt? I don’t think I do.
I know that allowing that hurt—even one little piece of it—to fester in my mind, in my emotions, in my heart; that hurt will grow infectious and cause me pain in ways that the original hurt never should have.
Perhaps that is why the Word says:
Looking diligently…. lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled
– Hebrews 12:15
In my mind, that root of bitterness looks a lot like a jagged splinter. And all the professionals and friends I consult may miss it. Antibiotics and soothing words will only be a temporary fix. The only solution to healing is to remove the splinter.
And thankfully I know just the One Who can.