“A splinter (also known as a sliver) is a fragment of a larger object or a foreign body that penetrates or is purposely injected into a body. The foreign body must be lodged inside tissue to be considered a splinter. Splinters may cause initial pain through ripping of flesh and muscle, infection through bacteria on the foreign object, and severe internal damage through migration to vital organs or bone over time.”
Have you ever gotten a splinter? How about the one that has a part of it sticking out of the skin? That has to be the worst kind, especially when you accidentally rub it against any surface! Splinters are usually picked up by coming into contact with minuscule sharp fragments. There are several types of splinters, but the most common ones are wood and glass.
Because a fully embedded splinter only hurts when pressure is applied to it, some people don’t even know they have it until it is pressed. And if they are aware of it, some rather leave it alone and avoid touching it at all cost. However, it doesn’t take long to be reminded that it is still there! If left unattended, a splinter can get infected. It can also get buried deeper and, as stated in the definition, can even have an adverse effect on internal body parts.
The same happens with splinters in the heart. These splinters, however, are not the tangible type. They are psychological in nature and they come from traumas that occur at any given point in life, usually in the early stages of human development. The earlier they occur and the longer it takes to deal with them, the more embedded they can become. If left unattended, they too can cause life-long negative effects like physical/mental health issues, toxic dispositions, and unstable relationships.
Heart splinters can result from any number of maltreatments ranging from verbal and physical abuse to peer and social pressure. While their presence may be evident in some people, most of the time you can’t tell who has them until a challenging situation prompts them to respond defensively or offensively. These reactionary behaviors can be frequent or occasional, depending on how often they are triggered (“rubbed” or “pressed”).
As with natural splinters, the best and wisest solution is to remove heart slivers as soon as they appear, which can be when one finally becomes aware of them or when someone points them out. For the Christian, the most effective removal method includes godly counseling and a commitment to spiritual disciplines. Now granted, getting rid of them can also prove to be difficult and painful, but the consequential relief is totally worth it!
Growing up as an only child in a single-parent home and then living a carefree bachelor life for a few years definitely caused me to pick up some rather noxious heart splinters along the way. A couple of them were embedded so deep that I didn’t realize they were there until my better half not only pointed them out but actually poked at them! I must confess, however, that I have still chosen not to touch a few; That has cost me dearly. But, as I write this post, I am thankful for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for God’s grace, and for His desire to help me remove them. And even though I still pull back at times when He tries, one by one and “ouch” by “ouch” I am allowing Him to use his divine tweezer to do the job. Slowly but surely, I am experiencing true spiritual and emotional healing and relief.
As I have grown older and served as a church leader for over 20 years, I have also witnessed emotional splinters in family members, friends, and acquaintances alike. So, I guess I can safely conclude that the majority of us have had or still have a splinter or two in our hearts. And, if you are among those who believe you don’t, let me remind you that the Bible says that every human being is born with the inevitable splinter of sin.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”Romans 3:23 NIV
This particular splinter, however, can be easily and painlessly removed with just one drop of the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ. All one has to do is confess Him as Lord and Savior and live by His Word. If you wholeheartedly surrender to Jesus, the splinter of sin, along with its hell-condemning infection, will be extracted with no remaining sign that it was ever there!
“But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.”1 John 1:9 KJB
“…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”Psalm 103:12 NIV
Maybe this post will cause you to wonder what splinter(s) may be embedded in your heart, or confirm what you already know. Perhaps you never realized there were emotional slivers buried deep within you until now. So, why not take a moment and ask God to search your heart for any signs of them. This means that you’ll have to open the door to your heart (mind, will, emotions), and let Him in. Then, you’ll need to drop your defenses and allow Him to remove any and all splinters He may find.
When and if you come to terms that there exist one or more splinters in your heart, I strongly suggest that you take care of them ASAP. How about right after you finish reading this blog post? Don’t allow pride to keep you from experiencing the relief of being splinter-free!
Below you will find links to two good articles that identify some of the splinters that cause defensive and offensive behaviors. And while a couple of the suggested tips to deal with them are from a secular perspective, they can prove highly effective when coupled with biblical counseling and disciplines. Remember, every one of our life experiences contributes to our psychological makeup, which in turn greatly affects our heart/disposition. Keep in mind that removing emotional and spiritual splinters will require that you take a couple of steps on your own. First, you’ll have to be honest with yourself, and then you will have to be willing to be healed. Nowhere in Scripture do we find God working in us against our will and without our participation. If you are ready for divine intervention, follow the Splinter Prayer link at the bottom of this post.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”Revelation 3:20 ESV
“If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land…”Isaiah 1:19 ESV
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”Matthew 23:37-38 NIV