Lessons Learned

Weekly Truth: The Devil is in the Details.

The Devil is in the Details

I am a very detail-oriented person. So much so that any trip I’ve ever planned is thoroughly planned out months in advanced. I don’t typically commit to anything until I know all the details about it – and I’m notorious of thinking through all the “what ifs” so that I’m prepared for those too. In some ways, this obsession has benefited me – I have felt pretty prepared in most situations that I’ve planned for. But on the flip side, my tendency to obsess over details led to massive anxiety issues in the past that eventually put me on medication.

Fine tuning the details isn’t a bad thing, in moderation. I know this, and I’ve beaten the part of me that said I needed to worry to the point of exhaustion over them. But I still struggle – almost daily – to keep those thoughts away.

Right now, my biggest obsession is designing my home and making it feel complete. It keeps me up at night when a room is painted, but the trim isn’t done – because I know that the trim won’t get done until the weekend when my husband is home. But what if it doesn’t get done then? What if we want to take a trip? Or go get ice cream, and get distracted? Will the trim never get done? Will I never see straight lines on my kitchen walls again? Who is going to remove the paint from the light switch? You might be laughing right now, but this is serious. The details have been killing me.

I have really struggled this week to live in the imperfection. A part of me struggles with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), so walking past dirty dishes in the sink, crumbs on the floor, and a dirty litter box is a lot for me to handle. Usually I can’t – usually I cave in and have to fix at least two of those issues. It’s an issue that takes more than just saying, “leave it alone. Don’t worry about it!” It has taken a lot of prayer, and counseling.

I remember talking with a counselor a couple years ago, when I was being diagnosed with all my issues {got to love therapists}. He asked me why I couldn’t leave dirty dishes alone. It wasn’t that I desperately wanted to clean all day. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to spend that extra time with my husband. Something about it felt wrong – it was literally a matter of what felt right and what felt wrong. It’s subjective, because my husband almost never thinks dirty dishes are wrong. They don’t bother him at all! I remember the therapist telling me, “Nothing bad is going to happen because those dirty dishes are left in the sink.”

That really stuck with me. I wanted to look at a mess and think to myself, “I can’t walk away from this, and nothing bad is going to happen.” It felt empowering. I was working at a daycare center at the time, and was struggling to keep up with the messes my three-year-olds were creating in record time throughout the day. I knew I needed to prioritize their safety and keep an eye on them, but I desperately felt like I needed to also run myself rugged to clean up their messes too.

I’m happy to say that I’ve done well in that regard, recently. I am able to sit with my daughter, patiently, while she plays and wreaks havoc in her room {and family room. and kitchen} because I know that memories are made by making messes sometimes.

I want to encourage anyone else that might be struggling with the same issues today. I want to tell you that it’s going to be ok. The details don’t have to be perfect – actually, no part of your life does. Because life is never perfect. Why do we expect it to be? When have we ever been shown that life was perfect?

We see illusions of perfection every day, and that really messes with our head – I feel it too. Stay strong! Let your house get a little messy, just like mine. Spend time with your families instead of doing the dishes.

Let’s close our eyes this weekend, amidst the mess, and take a deep breath. This mess will not always be our current mess, one day you might even miss the little messes you’ve got right now. Soak it up, let it sink in. Focus on the details that do matter: you’re blessed, you have a family that loves you, you live in a country that provides so many freedoms that are taken for granted every day, and  next Tuesday Ben & Jerry’s will give you free ice cream.

Suddenly, life doesn’t seem so bad does it?

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