My oldest daughter received a long-awaited gift for Christmas this past year – pierced ears. After the deed was done, she counted the days until she could change out her stud earrings and wear anything she wanted. But, we quickly discovered that her ears would not be quick healers. So, I had to begin educating her. We discussed what materials were least likely to aggravate her piercings. We discussed the importance of clean earrings. We compared gauges and discussed what the thinner posts could do if worn too long. And, as we continue to wait for her ears to heal completely, we remain very particular about what earrings she wears and for how long.
I realized something as we worked through this whole process together. I don’t take great care of my own piercings. I’ve grown lazy and unconcerned, I suppose. But, I wasn’t always that way.
I had my ears pierced for my seventh birthday. I got to get it done the day before my birthday so I could show my friends. But, my piercings were infected from the very beginning. Not because I didn’t take care of them, but because the piercing itself was not handled properly. I remember dreading cleaning my ears each day because it hurt so much. But, I did it faithfully, twisting each earring to separate it from any infected skin around it. And for the longest time after that, I was very careful about what I put into my ears and how long I wore certain earrings before returning to my “good” pair.
To this day, certain earrings bother my ears. I can only wear them for a certain amount of time before I have to take them out. But, I still wear them. Other times (like now) I neglect to keep any earrings in my ears. Occasionally I’ll wear “bad” earrings too long, and my ears will grow inflamed. Or, I’ll leave earrings out altogether long enough for a thin film of skin to cover the hole, and I have to gently break that skin to put earrings in again. My daughter and I are so careful with her ears, but with my own I am quite careless.
How much does my spiritual walk resemble the way I treat my pierced ears? I’m so careful about what goes into the hearts and minds of my children. I contemplate their sensitivity, and I try to keep in mind what will challenge them to grow as opposed to what will hurt their growth. But I’m not nearly as vigilant about myself. I don’t protect my spirit like I protect theirs. Instead, I allow mine to be exposed to irritants. I try to make sure I don’t let the irritants cause a full-fledged infection, but sometimes I push those limits. I don’t protect my heart, my mind, and my soul. And sometimes when I let down my guard more than I should, my heart grows inflamed.
My ears are just flaps of skin. They’ve never grown truly infected again, and I have a feeling that my aversion to pain will keep me from going to far in the wrong direction in my care for them. But, my spirit is another matter. It was created for absolutely purity. My heart is intended to be the home of a perfect, righteous, holy Savior. There should be no limit to the effort I put into guarding it. My goal should be to protect my own life just as stringently as I strive to protect the lives of my children. My purity and innocence should rival theirs. Only then will I be able to progress toward looking like Jesus.