“The marks humans leave are too often scars.”
—John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
I stepped up into the display window of my flower shop, not noticing the jagged edge on the old shutter we’d used for a Halloween backdrop. Immediately, I felt a surge of pain below the outside corner of my left eye. I hurriedly jumped down from the window and ran to my sister-in-law and partner, Sandra, at the back of the store. Not thinking it was anything serious, I asked her to pluck the splinter out of the skin.
She sat there rigidly, trying to compose herself. “I don’t think that’d be a good idea.”
Knowing Sandra had a weak stomach when it came to anything as minor as a nose bleed, I turned to our employee, Dee.
“Can you pull out the splinter, Dee?” I pleaded. She wasn’t one to flinch at the sight of blood.
“Uhh… I think Sandra’s right.” She turned and looked at Sandra, not knowing what else to say.
Sandra pursed her lips and slowly said, “I think we need to go to the emergency room.”
“What?” I couldn’t believe they thought I needed to go to the ER for a silly splinter. It didn’t even hurt that much. I headed back to the bathroom to look in the mirror.
“Don’t look at it, Carol. Please,” Sandra begged.”It’s really big. I don’t want you to freak out.”
Because it was about a quarter of an inch away from my eye, I could only see a small shape in my peripheral vision.
“Exactly how big is it?”I asked, almost afraid to hear the answer.
Sandra spread her index and thumb about two inches apart.
“No way!” I cried. “That means it’s down to my cheekbone!”
My stomach started churning as she hesitantly nodded her head. I didn’t want to contemplate the extent of the damage.
Finally, I was convinced I needed to go to the hospital. Sandra led me to her car, being careful to avoid the mirror beyond the open bathroom door.
When we got to the hospital, the ER nurse confirmed Sandra had given me wise advice. They took us back and began preparing me to have the splinter removed.
“We’re going to have to give you five shots around the wound so we can get it out without much pain,” the doctor calmly informed me.
He wanted to give me how many shots? In my face? That’s when I got scared. I looked over at Sandra, who was almost green from having to sit in the hospital room for so long.
“It’ll be ok,” she said, trying to act brave. She wasn’t fooling me, though. I could tell she was as scared as I was. That wasn’t comforting.
“Maybe John will get here by then,” she said, more for her sake than mine.
She’d tried getting in touch with my husband, but since he was on a job site he couldn’t make it for a while. When the doctor came to inject the Novocain, I asked Sandra if I could hold her hand. This was before I’d had my first child and had no idea what real pain was.
After the shots kicked in, the doctor removed the splinter. It was fairly painless and I thought they’d let me go home after it was removed.
Not a chance.
I couldn’t believe it. But, since I still hadn’t had the courage to look at it, I had to take their word.
John finally arrived, relieving Sandra of her duties. She darted out of the hospital like a mouse being chased by a cat.
After about an hour, the plastic surgeon came in.
“I can’t believe I need a plastic surgeon for just a splinter,” I told him as he began assessing the situation.
He looked at me intently and said,”It may not seem like a big deal now, but if we don’t stitch it up perfectly, you’ll be reminded of that splinter every time you look in the mirror. It would leave a prominent scar.” He continued, “You’re too young to have to deal with that the rest of your life.”
A shiver ran down my spine. “All right then, let’s go ahead and get this over with.”
Today, over twenty years later, I can’t find the scar. The plastic surgeon was meticulous in his work and it paid off. If Sandra hadn’t convinced me I needed to go to the emergency room that day, however, I’d probably be looking at an ugly scar instead.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
How easily we judge others for minor infractions while our sins are blaringly conspicuous. I never would’ve thought that splinter called for an emergency room visit, but once I saw it from others’ perspective, I understood how serious it was.
We need to consult the Great Physician often in our own lives to see if there’s anything hindering our witness. If so, once we’ve confessed it, allow God to perform the plastic surgery necessary to make us more of a reflection of Him. If we’re faithful to do this, we’ll have only the memory of the sin instead of the scars.
Let’s spend some time in prayer this week asking God to show us if there’s anything hindering our witness for Him.