Have you ever taken a splinter out of a child’s finger? You surely do not want to do it in public. They yell and scream and act like you are cutting off their finger. But once it is out, they run off and play as if nothing happened. Have you ever tried to remove a splinter that has been stuck for a while? The skin closes, leaving it trapped and extremely painful. They are no longer screaming to get it out; they are screaming to protect it. This is what happens when we endure hurts, lies, and offenses as a child that gets ignored, shamed, or dismissed. The hurt, lie, or offense becomes a heart splinter agitating our heart, but instead of screaming for it to get out like a child, we begin to scream when anyone comes close to it because we do not want it touched. We are protecting the heart splinter because it is too painful and uncomfortable. Triggers are simply another word for someone touching that sore spot that reveals where your heart splinter is. No one in their right mind wants a wound to be touched, but the only way to get it out is to put some pressure on it and feel it so that it can be released.
Childhood hurts can turn into adult-sized wounds. Childhood lies can turn into adult strongholds. Childhood offenses can turn into adult bitterness.
Many parents are parenting with heart splinters. They are yelling, screaming, shaming, acting out, raging, controlling, drinking, swearing, and spinning out of control. The solution is not more self-control. The solution is to allow God to minister to that owie that is causing you so much heartbreak and pain and ultimately affecting the way you parent. God wants to tell you that He is not mad at your reaction to the pain and your need to protect yourself, but it is time to let it be dealt with so that you can receive the ministry, healing, and the balm that your heart has needed for so long. How do we do this? First, identify that what you are feeling is not coming from your children. They simply are the ones touching the heart splinter, but your reaction is because something is already in there. Not all issues belong to our children. Some of them are ours. Second, go deeper. What are you feeling beneath the anger, yelling, and control? Pull on the rope and ask yourself, “What am I really feeling right now?” or “What does my heart need right now?” Third, ask, “Jesus, who do I need to forgive for introducing me to _______?” Forgiveness is your key to unlocking the heart splinter because the Cross is the answer for everything. Sometimes we need to forgive for the event (they didn’t listen to me) but also the fruit of the event (because I never felt heard, it is affecting the way I parent my children). It is okay to spend some time carrying your hurt to the Cross. Fourth, ask, “Jesus, what lie am I believing because of this heart splinter?” We have to be able to receive what He shares. We are not just hearing and nodding; we are hearing and receiving it like a gift. Verbally break agreement with the lie, such as, “I renounce the lie that I am _______.” It is super important to replace the lie with His truth so ask Him, “Jesus, what is Your truth?” and then write out whatever He says and declare it out loud over yourself every single morning for the next 30 days. Renew your mind with what He says about it.
While some triggers stem from significant trauma and may require help from those in the Body to process, as outlined in Isaiah 61, many heart splinters are actually quite small but have felt super big because we have carried them around for so long. You are not seeing the splinter from a logical adult brain but from the eyes of whatever age you were when the splinter was introduced (hence why the reactions are often so immature and irrational). Are all childhood owies a heart splinter? NO, not at all. Let me explain the difference. Say a young boy loses his dog, and another loses his father. The one who lost his father goes on to live a successful healthy life, but the one who loses the dog remains hurt and wounded. What’s the difference? The one who lost his dad was surrounded by a community that validated his pain and gave him grace and space to process the pain, causing the hurt to get out. The boy who lost his dog was told to ‘get over it,’ pushing the hurt in further. It is never about the size of the heart splinter but is about how the child was or was not able to process it. This is why God puts children in families. This is why the culture of busyness is a threat to the family (parents are too busy to see or discern what is going on for their child). This is why compassion and validation are heaven’s parenting tools. This is why we must go after connection with our children. This is why partnering with our child’s Creator is so important. Something else I have learned about heart splinters. It is by God’s design that parents help children with their childhood bumps, bruises, and owies, but sometimes parents are not able to do that because of their own heart splinters. By the time we are adults, we need to take responsibility for our own journey and do the hard heart work so that our children do not need to clean up the mess. While you might be craving and longing for someone to come and do it for you, that is not the way it works. You must own your own journey and take responsibility for the healing your heart needs. Show yourself compassion by acknowledging and dealing with the pain once and for all. Christ died so that you do not have to carry this weight around with you anymore. He has answers, keys, solutions, balm, and healing for your journey.