Pins and Needles

Dear Chosen Soul,

Have you ever hammered a nail into wood before? Or put a screw in to assemble a rack or furniture of some sort?

During winter once (while the weather was still forgiving), I was working out in the garden and was tasked to remove any nails and screws from these huge, huge pieces of – I don’t know what. They were like huge planks of wood with styrofoam stuck to it. There were many nails and screws. The bigger ones were easy to find because they stuck out. Others were so small I thought it was dirt from the soil on the ground! I was quite enthusiastic to remove all of them. Armed with gloves, a hammer and a crowbar, I challenged myself to see how many I could pull out in the shortest time possible.

The beginning was easy, the hammer worked really well and I was so pleased with myself.

Then the tricky part came.. I realised that some nails were so badly rusted, I could not even get the back of the hammer under the nail! I had to use a crowbar to dig away the foam, then place it under the nail to pull it out. No matter how hard I pulled, and what angle I tried, my efforts were futile. And then I realised – it was actually a screw!! Can you believe it? No wonder it would not budge! How silly of me!
I was quite frustrated when things got tough. I had all the tools I needed, yet those nails and screws were not coming out. Some of them were so decayed into the material I had to ask someone to help me to get it out together.

And then it hit me.

These nails and screws are like our sins. Our shortcomings, vices and bad habits that have become part of us.. almost second nature to us. That snarky remark disguised as ‘wit’.

Some sins, like the larger screws and nails, are easy to spot and get rid of– a simple pull from the back of the hammer is good enough to remove it once and for all. Others, especially those bad habits and vices that we can’t just quite get rid of, are like the nails that have been embedded deep, deep into the foam, coated with a thick layer of rust. Often overlooked, these vices require not only great effort to rid, but also someone else to come to our aid.

It was much easier when there was someone else to help me remove these nails and screws. One of us would pull and the nail, and the other, push at the material. Some bad habits and vices are like that. You need someone else to help rid these nasty things.

These are those people in your community, your group of friends, even in your own family that you find annoying, that you can’t quite get along with, whose very presence just irks you for some reason.

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” – Psalm 51 : 3

The beauty of God is that He knows what we need. Sometimes, fighting alone to rid a deeply rooted sin can be hard, and God’s wisdom sends people around to help us rid these vices by their very roots. So that seeds of the Spirit can be planted and fruits of the spirit can be borne into our lives. Fruits, that will last.

So the next time you notice yourself getting annoyed at someone for no reason, or when you’re pushed to your limits, take a step back, thank God for the opportunity to grow in virtue, thank God for the grace to grow and thank God, especially for the person.