I have an annoying cold sore. It’s located between the inside and outside part of my nose (I know, too much information). I feel it when I sleep, bathe, and especially when I blow (or try to blow) my nose. It hurts more than I like to be hurt. It certainly is not excruciating pain, but it’s more than a nuisance.
There are all sorts of analogies I could draw from this experience. I think about the “least members” in the Body of Christ and how, when they aren’t functioning well we all feel it. I think about small, innocuous sins (like a sin can be small or innocuous!) that, when not dealt with, can cause great pain in our lives.
But what came to mind are “spiritual cold sores.” These are those small maladies of the soul that we barely notice at first. Sometimes we don’t even see or feel them. It starts off maybe as a little dullness, going through the motions in spiritual practices, or settling into “the ways of the world.” There might have been a little “irritation” in a relationship, maybe something that didn’t settle well with you. Or it could be a sense of tiredness or fatigue that is not related to some physical symptom.
If these go undetected or “glossed over,” our soul may protest. Like my cold sore, the soul has a way of getting our attention when it is ignored – and sometimes it’s not pretty, like an unprovoked outburst or a dipping depression for no apparent reason or a paralysis that keeps you from getting anything done. Sometimes it leads to a sense of restlessness or a secret sin or an addictive pattern.
Thankfully, there are good remedies to spiritual cold sores. One is to sit with them in the Lord’s presence. As the Psalmist asked, “Why so downcast, O my soul?” (Ps. 42), so we, in the presence of God, ask the question, “What’s going on here?” I often bring things that seem to irritate me to God in Silent Prayer. I don’t judge it or myself (as I used to do), but just leave it before the Lord. More often than not, He resolves the tension within me and leads me down His righteous path.
Another good remedy is spiritual friendship. These are brothers and sisters who walk with us on the journey of Whole Life Worship. These are mature Christ-followers who don’t try to fix me or judge what I am saying. The listen, they relate, and they ask good questions. Sometimes in the process of getting things out in the open, I find resolution and direction. I am so thankful for my wife and a few really good friends who serve as this for me on a regular basis.
After complaining for a few days about my cold sore on/in my nose (oh, the lamenting that went on – just ask Letty!), I finally put some Neosporin on it. Funny, by morning it was much better and it doesn’t bother me as much.
It’s amazing what can happen when we attend to the little things.
What are some “spiritual cold sores” you have endured?
What has helped you in dealing with them?