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A Clean House Won’t Get You Into Heaven

I’ve tried many times to turn this line into a song, so far without luck. So now it’s a blog post.

I grew up living in some very clean houses. First there was my grandmother’s house – Nini. Then my mom’s. Everything was always perfectly neat and organized, and if you threw garbage in the bathroom pail, 5 minutes later it would mysteriously be empty.

I guess it was no accident that my first job was a dishwasher at a catering hall, where I not only cleaned dishes, but the entire facility. Constantly.

As I grew up and starting living on my own, I stayed fairly domestic, but I did rebel just a little. I actually refuse to take my shoes off when I come in the house sometimes!

I’ve learned to let some of my formal cleaning training go, but there’s still seems to be a nagging feeling that tells me there’s something wrong if the house isn’t always perfectly clean.

Not just that something is wrong. That I AM wrong.

But I’m tired of being valued for whether or not the house is clean, or if I have personally busted my ass to clean it.

It’s like my mind is telling me that it’s not enough for me to spend hours doing the thing that I get paid for, or working on a project that might make a difference in the grander scheme of things, beyond just impacting my own selfish needs. My mind is still saying, “but Mike, you didn’t clean today. you’re not done …” Even when I make a decision to let it go, to ignore the mess, that voice is still talking to me. “Mike, you know there are still dishes in the sink, don’t you?”


I don’t think the point of life is to check off all the boxes, and make everything nice and clean, so I can then get my reward. But that is exactly the message that was programmed into my head as a kid, at least subconsciously.

But I don’t want to be valued for my cleaning abilities anymore.

I am valuable because of how I think, what I say, and what I believe – but most importantly, because of who I AM – not what I clean.

I can just stand here and do nothing and still feel valuable. I don’t need to clean the house first. So, I’m calling bullshit on that little voice in my head, and I’m changing the story

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  1. Scott Scott

    As with me, I had a mother that expected a very clean house. The thing that made it real is that she worked full time and for as long as I can remember, we had a list (my two sisters and I ) every day to complete. If it wasn’t done, there was hell to pay. God rest her soul, she like a clean house.
    After I got married, I thought that everyone required this clean of a house. But, as my wife taught me, don’t sweat the small stuff. Our house remained clean, but not to the point that my mom required. I was able to settle in and during the years of raising the kids, their rooms were always a point of contention. But once again, my wife said, “you need to pick your battles”. Closing the door was good enough for most of the time.
    Time will help and being able to enjoy other things will allow the house to get a little messy. No problem. Just keep those GenZers involved and part of the household responsibility.

    • Thanks Scott. It was just a pretty recent wake up call, realizing that I have more value than my ability to clean. I always felt like I was only as good as the chores (and tasks) I completed. Not that I don’t still need to DO things, but I think I was getting caught up in the minutiae of the tasks and wasn’t seeing the big picture.

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