I am not sure how it started. I think there was a picture frame hanging on the wall that I thought was too small. In an attempt to fix it, I moved every single piece of furniture in my living room and adjacent dining room. Even though I feign weakness when there is something to lift that weighs more than three pounds, if there is furniture I want to move and no one is around to help, I become the unknown twin sister of the Incredible Hulk. Of course, it’s not pretty to turn the color of the jolly green giant but to be able to move ginormous slabs of wood around the room, one has to sacrifice vanity for vein-popping strength.
I know you aren’t sure where this is going because that’s how it is when you move furniture from wall to wall trying to see what looks best. You try one thing, decide it’s meh, flex the muscles, and drag it in a different direction. It’s really a lot like life. One little crooked sin that we tell ourselves is just a small defect becomes a catalyst for chaos. We ignore it and focus on all the righteous things about ourselves – we don’t beat our children, we call our mothers, and we return the shopping cart to that little island that is nowhere near our parked cars (most of the time). There are a lot of things we do right – that makes us good people. Since we figure sin is inevitable, we minimize our particular habit of hurting God. What’s one measly sin – usually the one we make over and over again – really going to hurt?
After purging the china cabinet, armoire, and buffet of their contents so that nothing would break when huffing and puffing furniture to different walls, the house looked like a hoarder’s delight and a husband’s horror. But, I knew it could be made tidy again and began the tedious work of putting tchotchkes in their place. That’s when I noticed a giant scratch traversing the floor from my living room to my dining room. It read like a road map of a wayward wife who watched too much HGTV. So smitten with all that I had done right in the room – the balance, scale, and symmetry I created – I ignored the scratch.
I don’t really know what I thought – that it would just go away, I guess. Maybe it just needed a little rub in a different direction. After mopping, and rubbing, and willing it to disappear, I realized the damage I did wasn’t just on the surface. It went deep, like the descent of sin. I read on the internet (the source of all sound information) that mayonnaise removes scratches from wood. So, I squirted Hellmann’s mayonnaise on the floor from my living room to my dining room, and, then, like Daniel-san from the Karate Kid, I waxed on and waxed off the greasy condiment. It’s moments such as these – crawling on a just mopped floor in a vat of mayo, that one wonders what has become of their life. I don’t even like mayonnaise (although one of my cats must because she kept licking the floor and consequently was vomiting later that night. Guess who had to clean that up?)
Long, twisted, wish-I-were-making-this-up, story, longer, the mayonnaise did not remove the scratch. Neither did the orange oil and beeswax concoction I rubbed on the floor the following day that my husband complained made his feet greasy. I thought if he had a better attitude, he could just pretend he had a deluxe pedicure at the spa but I wasn’t in a position to suggest a better attitude.
The point — and there has to be one because now I am running low on mayonnaise, patience, and sanity is that the small sins that we often think are inconsequential sometimes leave an indelible mark. Like that picture that didn’t quite fit, they turn from a nuisance into a nasty mess. Sin is slippery. It starts small – seemingly innocuous and it spreads to places we never even considered it would go. Sin doesn’t have to be inevitable. We can resolve to do better, avoid its downward slope, and live the holy life that knows its rightful place. We have the free will to choose, and while we may fall on occasion, it doesn’t have to be the norm. Best of all, God offers redemption. A chance to start anew, a smooth slate without the grease of sin clouding our perfectly-placed hearts. If only decorating could be so easy.
Have you had a similar experience? (Okay, not with the rubbing mayo into the floor!) But the way seemingly small infractions spiral into larger ones? It’s the little white lie we tell ourselves isn’t a big deal that can end up as a big mess.
BTW, I still have the scratch on my floor if you have any suggestions!
Read more: Funerals: Beauty in Shades of Gray