As kids, we were playing with some neighbors. We had some cheap plastic bead play necklaces. One of the neighbors decided to twist it around and around her fingers, snapping the beads, glued to the string, together so that they interlocked and made ring-like loops. In twisting them, she wound them too tightly and her finger started to swell. She panicked, trying to get it off and realizing it was stuck. We finally got it off and she was thankfully OK. I don’t think we ever told our parents, and I doubt she ever twisted those strings of beads around her fingers again. That wasn’t the worst knot I’ve ever untangled, but it was the scariest.

The worst knot… There was a woman in our church who got a knot in her hair. Instead of getting it untangled immediately she tried to hide it while she worked on getting it out. Cutting it out wasn’t an option due to our beliefs, and so the knot grew and grew. She wouldn’t wash her hair, afraid the knot would get worse. By the time she finally admitted her problem, it was a nightmare of a 3″x5″ or so mat of hair that started just a few inches from her scalp. We finally got it untangled for the most part. I warned her to braid her hair before washing it so it would have time to straighten and no chance of tangling back up. She didn’t listen, and the knot came back. In the end a whole group of church women (not me) spent hours gathered around her while she yelped with pain, pulling at the knot and untangling it. She lost a lot of her hair in the process.

Some knots are fairly easy to untangle, but some are almost impossible to remove, particularly if they aren’t cared for quickly. When words are tangled into knots, especially when scripture is tangled, it wraps itself not around our fingers but around our hearts. Unlike my  neighbor, most of the scripture twisting that binds us is not our fault or something we foolishly choose to wrap ourselves in, but rather it is bound around us by others. Some of them mean well. Others I’m not so sure. What I do know is the harm that twisting scriptures can cause.

It is very difficult to untangle the words that some weave into knots in our lives, particularly when they righteously declare that it is not them speaking, but God. Even if we know that God has nothing to do with what’s being said, if we hear it enough, it may sink into our minds. We miss some of the knots, particularly the smaller ones, and they tangle around us. And like any knot, it will be easier to untangle these words the less we’ve heard them, the smaller the proverbial knot.

Knots can be undone. It takes time. Sometimes it takes cutting a few strands. And many times it takes careful concentration and a frustrating amount of time. But be encouraged, it can be done. And with care, we can rid ourselves of the knots completely while still enjoying the threads or strands that they were woven from. The strands themselves aren’t all bad, just the way they are tied together, and the way they were used, to bind rather than mend.