We had a sign up over the sewing machines in the college costume shop that read: “The Devil’s in the details, AND CURVED SEAMS!” If you sew, you likely know why that sign was terribly accurate and why I remember that sign so vividly. But I’ve always wondered at the old saying that inspired our little sign. Why is it that the Devil lives in the details and not the Lord? After my uninspired attempt to clean out and clean up my house, I think I know why.
I might be the worst housekeeper on earth: I really, really hate to clean or fold laundry or sort through and throw out piles of junk mail. My poor, dear husband lived with a laundry fairy and cleaning fairy until we got married. Sadly, neither fairy chose to follow him into marriage; I think they took one look at our apartment and ran for the hills. I try to enjoy cleaning, and when that fails, I try to inspire myself to clean anyway, employing verses such as 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” When it becomes apparent that my housekeeping skills are not glorifying God, I resort to Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” in an attempt to power through it. It’s not that any of the tasks at hand is terribly difficult, I just procrastinate until I can plant flowers in the dust or perform weird science experiments on unknown life forms living in my refrigerator. I don’t want to live in a dirty house, but I don’t want to clean it, and I lack the discipline to keep it up once I do get it clean. In this case, the Devil certainly is in the details.
I want more than anything to be a good wife – the kind of wife that Proverbs 31 describes – but, I apparently haven’t wanted it badly enough to change my habits. I’d like to say that the bad habits end here, and from now on, I will be an excellent housekeeper. I know that I won’t stick to it. I am a perfectionist at heart, and I tend not to do things that I’m not sure I can master (immediately). So, if I know I can’t get the entire house clean in a day, I will drag it out so that it takes a week instead. Of course this makes no sense, and I’m working on it a little every day. I have actually been somewhat successful, cleaning out all but one crazy room in the house over the last week. (I’m currently procrastinating that room, sitting in it while typing this blog entry. Not to worry, I’m headed right back to work on it after this break.) Also in an attempt to conquer the psycho perfectionism (I think a little bit is good – too much is just nuts), I have been tinkering with learning to play my mom’s old guitar. I have learned to play three notes so badly that my dogs will not stop barking until I put down the guitar. It frustrates me to learn so slowly and to play (my three notes) so badly, but I’m learning to laugh at my complete lack of coordination. I’m also learning how to accept taking the little steps that I can take to reach the larger goals.
In that respect, I’m trying to change the old saying in my life so that Christ is in the details. He’s often in our big goals or our dreams, but he’s not often found in the preparation required to accomplish those dreams he’s given us. We’re often willing to make dramatic gestures or grand sacrifices, but (at least in my case) we’re often unwilling to perform the inglorious daily grind with the same gusto. It will be a miracle if I ever get my whole house clean, but the bigger miracle will be the daily discipline required to both accomplish and maintain that goal for more than a week. The greatest miracle will be finding God in every detail every day. To that end, I am trying just a little bit harder or doing just one extra task each day so that I might build up to the total discipline required to follow God with all my strength, all my mind, and all my heart.