When I first started working in the restaurant a few weeks ago I told you about the view behind the counter versus the one on the patron’s side. At the time I was referring to the fact that delivering a good chicken-finger platter without a lot of unpleasant fanfare is not as easy as it looks.
But there is a literal “view” from the servers’ side of the counter that I got privy to also. I saw all the places that needed a deep down cleaning. Don’t get me wrong; the food is safe and good there. But a display table with advertisements and business cards had never had a dusting, a never-used food scale was grimy with years of neglect, the glass sliding doors could use a good Windexing inside and out, and—most glaringly of all—the glass coffee pots are opaque with brown stains, a real turn-off.
I decided I would offer to come in on Saturdays after closing and do a ceiling-to-floor scouring, to make the place shine like a new penny. I would move everything that could be moved and clean under it and behind it. I would use a yardstick or wire hanger to reach the glass door surfaces that are inaccessible to the human hand. I would either clean the glass coffee pots or, if they were a lost cause, replace them.
So far the only contribution I have made is to buy a hockey puck-shaped, battery-operated, low-voltage LED fixture to light the dark stairway where I descend at shift’s end for my supply run. I made up my mind to hold off on the Saturday offer rather than risk the appearance of presumption. But a funny thing happened on the way to biding my time before springing the plan: I got inured, I lost interest, and I grew accustomed.
That is to say, day-by-day I started to not notice the departures from perfection that at first had alarmed or even disgusted me. Bit by bit the place started to look more acceptable to me, and then pretty good, until I was no longer offended by even the coffee pots. They became invisible.
All of which made me ponder a similar phenomenon in the spiritual world. At first one is alarmed by a sin one spots for the first time, whether in oneself or in another. Be it immodesty or a foul mouth or indiscretion or phoniness or temper or occult practices or sexual sin, the departure from righteousness makes an impression in the beginning. But one becomes strangely inured to evil by nothing more than daily exposure. In the end it’s like the yucky coffee pot I see every day: It no longer is a big deal.
The Bible calls this inuring to evil a “seared conscience”:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared … (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
The lesson would seem to be to take care of matters early, when you first discern their evil and their need of attention. If we tolerate a sin in our lives, it is a pretty sure bet that in the end we won’t even see it.