Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What's Your Oozing Sore?

Title catch your attention?

I posted not too long ago about getting a splinter under my finger nail. A nice chunk of hardwood floor completely underneath my right index finger.

I considered it a *gentle* reminder to clean up my language.

After about 15 minutes of pacing, holding my hand in my arm pit and convincing myself the end of my finger would be gangrenous when I looked at it, I peeked to find this little piece of wood under my nail. The tip of my finger felt like it was the size of a watermelon. It was throbbing with its own heartbeat.

I snapped at the kids as they asked what happened and if they could see it.

Finally, about 45 minutes later, after the kids were in bed, I was brave enough and able to focus on it. I got the tweezers, peroxide and my courage.

Naturally, as I imagine all surgeons do before surgery, I Googled how to get a splinter out when it is completely underneath the nail. I learned you need to cut the nail back as much as possible.

That did the trick, I was able to expose enough of the splinter to get a grasp on it with the tweezers. Then, I held my breath and tugged.

Then I almost vomited.

Nothing happened.

This happened a few more times. That darn thing was really in there.

Just when I had resigned myself to forever having a lacquered and probably lead- soaked piece of wood under my nail for ever, I took a deep, cleansing, Lamaze breath and tried again.

I connected and felt it give way a bit.

I started to believe that I would survive.

Only a couple more tugs and it came free.

Funny, once I had it out and got a close look at it, it was minuscule. It SEEMED so big when it was trapped in my finger.

I poured some peroxide under my nail and watched it bubble. I rinsed it and could still see a tiny dark spot under the nail. I figured it would work its way out, so I let it go, so grateful that it was over.

The next day, my finger started getting super hot and red. It hurt to the touch. I started typing without using that finger. It was almost impossible and a pain in the neck (and finger!) I carried on this way for at least a full day.

That dark speck was still there. I set out for surgery again, and this time tried to lift the nail a bit to make better access for the tweezers.


If you're eating or have a weak constitution, divert your eyes now.

Really gross, white stuff oozed out.

You're welcome.

I was both horrified and ecstatic. Once that happened, the pressure went away and my finger didn't hurt anymore!

I poured in some more peroxide, watched it bubble, and went about my business.

Believe it or not, I allowed this same scenario to play out for days.

And then, one day, I just decided, "this dang thing is coming out!"

And it did.

I held my breath and excavated until the rest of the wood was removed. This time, I knew I'd gotten it all because I could see it and feel how much better it was. The peroxide I poured on this time was actually able to penetrate the wound and clean it out.

And peroxide DOES hurt, FYI, regardless of what your mom tells you...

End of story. I am healed.

Why in the world am I {over}sharing this story with you?

Because...a few days later God smacked me in the face with this awesome analogy.

How well this applies to other infections in our lives?

What splinter do you have that you choose to hold on to because 1) you're too afraid of the pain of removing it, 2) you're unsure how to start the process of removal, 3) you think you've addressed the problem, but there are still lingering issues, or 4) you're just too lazy to make the effort?

How many times have I recognized something in my life that is a detriment? Only to ignore it because I was afraid or unsure of how to begin? Once I decided to give it a go, did I do a half-arsed job because digging in deeply was too painful?

Did I put on a bandaid, knowing there was still infection inside?

When the "healed" wound began to ooze with infection again, did I finally have the courage to really, fully address the situation at its core? Uncover things, dig deeper and really get at the heart of the matter?

I realized it then, only once I fully removed the offending splinter could the antiseptic cleanse the wound and genuinely begin the healing process.

The analogy was revealing to me. It was so simple and yet so profound.

There are many areas in my life that I let fester. Sometimes I believe I'm addressing them. Sometimes I'm too afraid to take an honest inventory, and sometimes I want to meet them head on, but I'm overwhelmed or unprepared.

In those times, praying feels like I'm talking to myself and reading the Word falls flat. I cry out to God to heal me, remove this from me [whatever "it" may be in that instance] and let me be whole.

I feel frustrated as it still continues to hurt and ooze infection, but what I take a while to realize is that God can and will heal me...but only when I allow Him to. Sometimes I have to get some things out of the way.

Just like the peroxide won't heal (or heal as effectively) a wound that still has the offending debris in it, God and His Word isn't effective in cleaning and healing a would of our soul if we aren't willing to be honest and look intently at what is causing the wound.

And then do our best to amputate that which is causing it.

Matthew 18:9 says (NIV), "And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell."

Now am I going to gouge out my eye or cut off my finger? No...this is a dramatic representation of how to fully address something that is causing us an infection. Instead of ignoring it or poorly "doctoring" it, we should take the bull by the horns and fully examine and remove the offending item (addiction, struggle, stumbling block...) from our lives. Be done with it. Take control of it. 

It was empowering, actually, to meditate on that for a bit.

Many times I don't even begin the arduous task of removing the splinter and cleansing the wound because I'm afraid of failing. 

But 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline."

So there it is...the death knell for my hold-out of "failing". God gives a spirit of self-discipline and power. The ability to do what we set our minds to. 

So, while it may not be easy (and most likely WON'T be) it IS possible. 

And I don't even have to Google how to do the surgery. Just open the Word. After all, Jesus is the Great Physician. 

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