I was cleaning the kitchen one afternoon when my six-year-old son came in from playing outside. He was clearly upset.
“Mom! I have a splinter in my hand!” he exclaimed.
“Can you show it to me?” I asked.
As he cautiously held out his hand, I could plainly see the splinter. As far as splinters go, I knew this one would be very easy to remove. It was sticking out quite far from his skin. “Let me get some tweezers, so I can pull that out for you,” I said.
“NO! It hurts SO bad!” he cried.
“It will be very easy to remove. It won’t hurt at all,” I calmly replied. “It’s going to be more painful if you leave it in.”
Refusing to allow anyone to touch his sore hand, he emphatically declined my offer to help. He went back to playing, troubled by the tiny foreign object sending pain through his little hand but not ready to face the fear of having it removed.
I have seen my young children make this choice before. In the past, there have been times when I’ve forced them to let me take out their splinters. I would struggle to hold them still while trying to grab onto those minuscule pieces of wood lodged in their skin. My kids always hated it. They would squirm and cry, and I never had much success helping them in those conditions. Over time, I’ve learned that, for a simple splinter, it’s better not to touch it until they’re willing to let me help them.
Sometimes I’m like a child with a splinter. I have painful emotions, weaknesses, or sins that I know are hurting me, but I’m afraid to let my Savior remove them. I feel scared that the process of allowing Him to heal me is going to hurt more than my current suffering. Just as my son protected his splinter from any aid I could give him, I also often guard the painful areas of my life from the Lord because I fear His help will cause more soreness for me. I would rather live with the familiar pain than risk any further discomfort.
As I work the twelve steps of Healing Through Christ, I’m reminded that Jesus Christ is patient and kind. He feels empathy for my pain, even if it is self-inflicted. When I cling to unhealthy feelings and behaviors, He doesn’t abandon or condemn me. He wants me to turn to Him whether or not I’m completely ready to trust Him. He understands why I feel afraid, and He wants to help me release my fears and grow in faith. In Step Two, as we learn to surrender our fearful emotions, we realize that “because our Savior respects our agency, He will not take from us what we are not willing to give. We become ready to willingly give and completely surrender our fears to Him, then we prayerfully ask our Savior to take from us the fearful emotional burdens that are creating so much hopelessness and pain in our lives.”1
In Step Six, we become ready to let God help us. “When we truly desire to change, we will become willing to let go of our old ways of doing things and trust that the spirit of the Lord will teach us new ways. This desire is increased when we fully comprehend how this choice will bless our lives.”2 Working the twelve steps of Healing Through Christ helps us learn how to put more trust in our Savior. We learn to believe in His ability to calm our troubled hearts, strengthen our weaknesses, and lead us to change.
Richard G. Scott taught: “Many of you suffer needlessly from carrying heavy burdens because you do not open your hearts to the healing power of the Lord…lay the burden at the feet of the Savior. He has invited you to do that so that you can be free from pointless worry and depression.”3 We’re reminded in our support group meetings that “as we pray, seek the Lord’s guidance, read our scriptures and work the Steps on a daily basis…we will find hope, we will feel peace and we will experience joy again.”4 These spiritual habits keep us close to God. When we invite His spirit into our lives daily, we develop a more trusting relationship with Him. With this increased trust, it becomes easier to allow Him to remove our spiritual splinters before they become too painfully embedded in our lives. We will want to reach for Him when we feel broken and hurt. He will comfort us as He carefully, and often very gradually, takes our uncomfortable feelings, weaknesses, and sins away. If we let Him, He will gently unbury the hurt lodged in our spirits, and we will live free from fear and pain.
1 Healing Through Christ – Help, Hope, and Healing for those who have a loved one in addiction, 23
2 Healing Through Christ – Help, Hope, and Healing for those who have a loved one in addiction, 61
3 Richard G. Scott, “To Be Free of Heavy Burdens,” Ensign, Nov 2002
4 Michigan Healing Through Christ, “Family Support Group Phone Meeting Format,” Closing section, para. 2