I am a person of order; I am also a big picture person and to some extent a person of detail – at least as far as the details relate to the big picture. When I walk into a room I can’t help but notice the details of the room and how they work together; I admire all things beautiful – beautiful pictures, beautiful words, beautiful vases, trinkets, and flowers. However, I also immediately notice when things are out of place or out of order with the room – particularly larger items or cluttered piles. I notice books and magazines left out, cups left anywhere but in the cabinet (this could be an entire topic by itself – yes, I am the one who will put a cup in the dishwasher the minute it leaves your hand); I notice pictures piled beside a desk, computers out of place, and anything that seems to disrupt order and add chaos and clutter to the big picture.
However, smaller spaces do not bother me as much; I adhere to the old cliché “out of sight, out of mind”. Although I would like to have all of my closets, cabinets, and drawers neat and orderly, I am far more tolerant of hidden spaces. I am also very tolerant of my own clutter and chaos. With the bigger picture in mind, I can overlook a few piles or a few things left out of order – if they are my piles, my clutter, and my chaos. I see the bigger picture and so my mind’s eye can see past the temporary clutter.
Sometimes my odd quirks (or OCD as some like to call it) can cause me to falter and fall. I am often guilty of wanting to sort through and pick up, put up and throw away the piles of others, and I can be so busy trying to clean up after someone else that I forget to look at my own clutter. I can also forget that relationships are more important than restoring order.
Recently I found myself apologizing to a friend and co-worker for over-stepping my bounds and sorting through what I perceived to be clutter when I was suddenly caught off guard within my spirit, as God used my own idiosyncrasies to humble, convict, and illustrate to me the depth of His grace and his long suffering towards me. During the course of that conversation, it dawned on me how much I tolerated in my own life while at the same time judging those who approach life differently and perhaps are gifted differently. Perhaps my heart is a little like my closets and I don’t give enough attention to those messy piles of pride. Perhaps I am too concerned that the big picture looks nice – that people see the big picture and so the overall impression is one of order and structure – one of self discipline and extreme self control.
While I was strongly convicted of my own sin and deeply desired to repair any damage I had brought to our relationship, I was also awed by the realization of God’s grace on my life as I thought about how God – a God of order and structure – could look at the clutter and chaos in my life and extend grace and longsuffering. Because He values relationships more than order, He is patient with me as I attempt to work through those piles or hide those cluttered closets. I know that on my own, I cannot bring order to my life, and it is only with His divine assistance that any good comes from my feeble attempts, but He sees the big picture and freely offers grace to restore order.