This was oft-heard medical advice when I was a kid, for everything from splinters in the finger to popcorn kernels stuck between tooth and gum. As a child, I wondered what it meant, besides my mother abandoning hope of rummaging a nearly invisible speck of wood from my hand with a needle while I wailed in hyper-sensitive terror.
To allow something to “fester” means you allow it to “suppurate,” or fill with pus (there’s your new word for the day). Pus is the by-product of an inflamed, possibly infected, bodily injury. In theory, if allowed to fester, the splinter would so aggravate the surrounding flesh, the body would produce pus – a nasty, yellowish-white goo – to force the offending object from the body. Yeah, gross.
Hey, our bodies are smart enough to work to get rid of an offense. Perhaps we should take a clue!
Becoming “offended” (please review yesterday’s list of offense synonyms so you don’t mistake an offense for something else, like hurt feelings, or righteous indignation) by someone’s words, actions, opinions or choices is like ramming a nice, thick splinter right up underneath your fingernail.
As you ruminate on that offense – the unkind word from a spouse, the bill passed by the Senate committee, the foolish mistake of a child that costs you something valuable – and rehearse and rehash the incident to friends and family, you get a buildup of spiritual pus, an oozing, leaky flow of negative words and emotions that grows until the thing is sore and swollen and miserable. Injuries that swell and became hot, red and infected used to be called “proud flesh.” Maybe they still should be. It’s your pride that takes up the cause of an offense and clings to it. Just pride.
In pain (and wanting to justify your offense), you point out your boo-boo to anyone who will hold still long enough to look. You seek opportunities to discuss the source of your “owie,” and then peel back the Band-aid of polite behavior to reveal the damage you’ve incurred. Naturally, you gain attention and sympathy from this, and that makes you a bit reluctant to let the thing heal. (Be honest, we all like a little sympathy and attention from time to time!)
An open, pus-filled sore is a breeding ground for all sorts of loathesome creatures, from staph infections to opportunistic fungi and parasites. Things you DO NOT WANT in your body. Leaving an offense untreated and waiting for it to clear up on its own, is the equivalent of rolling your wounded self around in the cat’s litter box. You are going to end up with a bigger problem than a splinter. You may end up losing a leg. Or your life. No nasty comment, no political agenda, no economic trouble, no misunderstanding, no personal opinion, is worth that kind of cost.
Tomorrow, we’ll examine the early symptoms of offense, because the best way to deal with it is to rip those splinters out right away, no matter how bad it hurts at the moment! And we’ll address what to do if you have some of those pus-filled abscesses in your life that need to be taken care of. If you aren’t already a subscriber or a follower, sign up so you don’t miss a post. Get the cure, so you can get over it! Fortunately, if you are willing to submit to the treatment, offense is treatable.
If you want to get this information all in one place at one time, it’s in my book The Judas Trap available at Amazon.com. I’m giving away a free copy this week. (It’s excellent preparation for the holidays… all that time with in-laws and family members provides plenty of opportunities to get offended.)
If you’d like to have your name included in the random drawing, leave me a comment and your e-mail address. (Click “comments” below. A window will pop up with a place to enter comments at the bottom.). Leave spaces between your name and the @ symbol, or type out the word “at” to avoid being picked up by those web spider things that steal e-mail addresses and add them to junk mail lists. Or something like that.