My husband is very accident-prone when it comes to injuries. He was one of those kids who always had a scraped arm from climbing a tree, bruised knee from falling off his bike while going off a jump, or scratched arm from playing army man in the rose bushes. He has had some fairly serious injuries as well. He fell from a tree fort when he was 3 resulting in a depressed skull fracture, accidently cut his finger to the bone with a knife, had to have surgery on his knee after a skiing mishap, and even came close to losing sight in one eye after someone threw an ice ball. Out of all of his injuries, however, the one that affected his life the most was a tiny splinter in his finger. He recorded the experience in his journal:
“My dad and I work in construction so splinters are a regular occurrence. Dad had taught me to always pull out a splinter right after getting one, and one day I learned why. As I was moving lumber, a board slid out of the stack I was carrying. It rubbed up against my hand as it fell and I got a sliver in my finger. I tried half heartedly to get it out but it was lodged deep and hurt badly, so I decided to wait until I got home at the end of the day.
By the time I got home, my finger had swollen significantly and hurt even worse than before. I tried to get it out, but the pain was unbearable. So, I went to the splinter expert: “Dad, you have had millions of slivers, how do I get this one out?”
He explained that the body has an amazing healing process for slivers. It recognizes the splinter as a foreign object, so it festers, swells, bleeds, and builds pressure in an attempt to work it to the surface. It also shoots out pain signals, telling the brain something is wrong and has to be treated. The pressure and pain continue to build until you do something about it. The entry wound starts to heal, however, so it becomes harder to get out the longer you wait. After some painful surgery at the kitchen counter, I had dug the sliver out.
Several months later a Sunday school lesson on the atonement made me think back to the experience with the splinter and I learned a very valuable spiritual lesson. The spirit has a healing process for sin, much like the body has a healing process for splinters.
It recognizes sin as foreign thing-something that does not belong in someone of divine worth. It brings guilt, which President Packer refers to as “spiritual pain” letting us know something is wrong and has to be dealt with. If left untreated, our conscience festers and guilt continues to build until we do something about it. As time passes and the sin is repeated, it becomes harder and harder to overcome.”
Just like my husband, I know that the Savior is the “Great Physician” who lived and died in order for us to have the great cure-all of repentance. It is my prayer that we read the scriptures, attend church, and keep the commandments to learn how to treat our spiritual splinters. I know that as we do that, we can be healed.
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