Cleaning With a Purpose

In case you didn’t know from all the subtle or not so subtle complaints I’ve dropped through the years: I do not like to clean.  I do enjoy a clean house, but the work that it takes to make it that way?  Ugh.  I’d much rather be in the kitchen cooking up a storm or at my computer writing fun articles.

Like many aspects of life that have to be done whether we like it or not, cleaning is necessary.  And not just every once in a while.  Dishes have to be done daily (hourly?!), floors need to be swept frequently, and please let’s not talk about the bathrooms.

clean_bathroom

Are you kidding?  That’s not my bathroom.
I just found the picture online.

I’m not into having a perfect, spotless home.  It’s just not my gift, and I am okay with that.  I hear God calling me to more important things than using a toothbrush to scrub the crevices around my – actually – I can’t even pretend to know how to finish that sentence.  What do people use toothbrushes to scrub around?  Well, whatever it is, I’m not into it.  If you are, please do go for it!  God gives us all different passions and skills.

What I have been recently convicted of, however, is that no longer should my attitude be that of cleaning just to get it done or so that I won’t die of embarrassment when someone comes over and sees the filth.  Those really have been my reasons in the past.

While one of my gifts has always been hospitality, recently God has put on my heart that our home is to be open and used more frequently to bless others.  He gave us a great, big house with plenty of food and fun to share.

Based on that specific calling from God (because this would never come from me – I’m the one who doesn’t like cleaning, remember?) I have found so much joy recently in preparing my home for the guests God continues to put on our doorstep.

No longer am I cleaning to save myself from embarrassment or so that guests won’t think I’m a big slob.  (Can you say, self-focused??)  I am now cleaning my house, preparing our guest room, planning meals, and making comfortable beds so that my guests will feel blessed and comfortable in our home.

Do we all need to feel like our homes are perfect before we open our doors to others?  Absolutely not.  My guests are not going to walk in and feel like they’ve walked into a show room.  Far from it.  Nerf bullets may still fly by their faces while we visit, dust will be found in places that I forgot to notice, and someone may likely come across a broken pencil having a party with the crumbs under a couch cushion.  An unapologetic smile and a warm, relaxed welcome absolutely trumps all white glove tested territory in a home.  I will not allow myself to feel like a failure when someone drops by and I have to scoot boxes, Lego creations, and folded laundry out of the way so that they can find a place to sit.

But as I scrub toilets, get out clean sheets and towels, and vacuum under beds, I will now be doing it with a new and refreshing purpose: so that my guests will feel peace and joy from being in my home.  (As well as the occasional breeze from a nerf bullet whizzing by their face.)

Do you enjoy having people in your home?  If not, what is holding you back?

Comments

  1. Robbie says

    My favorite post :) :) :) Thank you! This is an answer to a prayer I never officially prayed but God knows I needed to hear :) and I love the bathroom pic..it looks like mine…NOT!!!!!!! LOL
    I do have the gift of hospitality but not a gift of cleaning and I don’t like to be in the kitchen either so I can’t even cover up my messes by offering food! ;)

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  2. Cathy says

    I’ll be the freak and say that I love cleaning. And yes, I’ve used a toothbrush while cleaning… Most recently when scrubbing the grout on our floors. And I don’t have the gift of hospitality, but this is an area God has been working in in my life this past year. Slowly trying to let go of my desire for a perfectly clean house (note I said desire, it’s never a reality!)

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  3. Palaytias Dreams says

    Thanks so much! I needed this. I abhor cleaning. In fact I have ADHD (attention defiecit housecleaning disorder) and as such wil spend three hours “cleaning” and not look like I did anything, but my husband can finish a whole room in half the time.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come to him in tears because his work is complete and I don’t look like I’ve done ANYTHING, but spent the same amount of time.

    Now, using what you’ve suggested, knowing that my family will be happier, I can probably face my “disorder” and put order back into my chaotic home. If I know that I’m doing it for that reason, that’s good enough for me. Thanks!

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    Nicole Reply:

    Oh my, I could have copied & pasted your entire comment as my own!! I am so borrowing the ADHD thing!! ;)

    Laura, thank you so much for this post today!!

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    CM Reply:

    I am the same way, and my husband is like your husband. One thing that finally helped me was when I heard a Focus on the Family broadcast featuring Sandra Felton. She wrote a book about ‘Messies’ and ‘Cleanies’ (in other words those who clean for an hour and the room looks the same vs. those who clean for half an hour and the room is sparkling). Her book and website were really helpful to me in getting over my ADHD as you call it. =)

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  4. Kelley Butler says

    I thank you for this post. My type A-ness, want it perfect, but won’t be, cripples my being. I had to realize that the very chores I used to detest, I can now do with JOY! It is for Him, and no one else..

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  5. Inherited messiness gene says

    I also love cooking but do not like cleaning. I love having people over but then have to clean like mad before they arrive, which is the way my mom kept house. Even then, I would fail miserably if there were ever a white-glove test done at my house. I consider my house cleaner than my moms but I guess I have used that as a crutch that its “clean enough” rather than truly clean. I would honestly rather clean someone elses home than my own because it feels like I’m being a blessing to them instead of the cleaning being a chore at my own. I need to re-focus & be a blessing to my family & friends who visit our home. Thank you for this new perspective!

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  6. Sheri says

    I am cleaning deficient, too ;)
    If you haven’t heard of Flylady, please check out her website at flylady.net. She has a simple, not at all time consuming way of putting your house in order and she is always positive and supportive. I found flylady by accident and it has made a huge impact on our home and my attitude. Blessings to you all!

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    Laura Reply:

    I, too, LOVE Flylady! I’ve been following her for years and she has really helped me get over my perfectionist tendencies and hearing my mother’s voice in my head. Cleaning is now fun, broken up into little segments and is for the purpose of blessing my family. Oh, and having time for my own fun. It has actually happened!

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    Carrie Reply:

    Flylady has made my life so much better!!! She makes it easy. Between Flylady and Laura my kids and husband are enjoying a clean home with shining sinks, and the amazing smell of fresh baked bread. Not mention a happier mom!!!

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  7. says

    I’ve always felt that my limitations to having others in my home is more to do with the size of my home. I’m not ashamed of my small house, but unlike most of my friends, my children don’t have a playroom. Our living room and dining room is one space only defined by furniture and then there is the kitchen. That’s it for the first floor. So they play pretty much everywhere and the toys don’t usually get put away until the end of the day. It can be hard to walk from one room to the other some days. (They really don’t have that many toys, our house is just really that small. I mean our entire first floor is smaller than the “playrooms” some of my friends have for their kids toys). But when I pack all the toys up and it’s nice and clean I feel bad because the children want to play. I’m not even really embarrassed by the mess, I just think it makes others uncomfortable.

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    Dana Reply:

    Bethany, invite others to your home who also have kids who play! Then enjoy!

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    Kristie Reply:

    I totally understand! My husband and I live in a 2-room apartment (450 square feet). We used to have a full kitchen table, so we could have 2-3 people over for a meal. But now that we’re expecting a baby in August, we ditched the table to make room for our sweet boy. As someone who loves having people over for dinner, games, dessert, whatever, it’s a hard adjustment. But I also know that (hopefully) this is only for a season and we will one day have a bit more room to exercise hospitality. Now I’m working on the art of gently inviting myself over and bringing the meal/dessert ;) This works well with new moms— haven’t tried it on anyone else quite yet haha!

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  8. says

    I love this post! I am naturally averse to cleaning too. I’ve actually been convicted lately because I’m more willing to clean for the comfort of others than for blessing my own family. I would keep my den and kitchen in a decent state of order, but I hadn’t seen the carpet in my bedroom since…well…let’s just say a looooong time.

    I finally had an “aha” moment while reading through one of the homemaking e-books from that GREAT bundle you participated in a while back. It lit a fire under me, and I spent the three full days cleaning out, decluttering, and generally degunking our room (the dust was so bad that I actually put on a mask for part of the process). I even rented a carpet cleaner on Tuesday, moved every piece of furniture in that room I could, and shampooed the carpet!!

    Cleaning may not be something that we are naturally passionate about, but isn’t it wonderful that God gives us so much joy from a job well done? :)

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  9. says

    Cleaning isn’t something I really enjoy, but I definitely am motivated by the fact that my family and guests feel comfortable when it is clean.
    The thing that really helps me get motivated when I’m feeling unenthusiastic is this: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23). This helps me put housework in perspective! As with everything else we do in life, it’s for the Lord. This motivates me not just to get it done, but to do it with excellence.

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  10. AK says

    Once I heard a woman say that she “used to have time to clean her window crevices with q-tips” before she had kids. I had a great inward laugh because it would never even occur to me to clean window crevices. NEVER. I assumed the crevices were designed to catch the dust and dirt. (Wink)

    My mother in law washes the walls on a schedule. Not “wipes the dirty handprints off”– I mean washes. Washes. With like a diluted cleaning solution. Top to bottom. Twice a year. No joke.

    So, I loved your article. I keep a “reasonably” clean house, and like you…I enjoy living in clean, but the process? Not so much. :)

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  11. says

    Oh, this is great! I hate cleaning too, and just getting it done so I don’t die from embarrassment is my motivation too. I’m thinking it’s time for me to start inviting people over just so I can bless them instead of focusing on what needs to be done to make me look like a good hostess.

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  12. Michelle says

    My goal for our home is “happy and comfortable.” I was convicted of my poor housekeeping so made a schedule for myself to follow to keep the house at a comfortable level of cleanliness instead of waiting until it really needed cleaning. This post reminds me tat I do need to work on my hospitality though! I am a bit of a hermit!

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  13. Jamie Garcia says

    I’m excited for when my kids get old enough to take on their own cleaning duties, until then I’m training and cleaning at the same time so my guests will have to be happy with seeing me and not the house :)

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  14. Fletcher R. says

    Thank you for the post, Laura; and the wonderful comments from your readers. Love that ADHD thing lol!!

    I love to cook, love to offer hospitality, and hate to dust! Dirt is a fact of life around here; let’s face it, dirt and dust (and hay, manure, and other better not to mention substances) don’t care if your farm is a hobby size or a few thousand acres!!

    I’m expecting company next week and have a lot of cleaning ahead of me to be “company ready”. Thank you for reminding me that making my home ready for that company is a service to my Lord and a blessing prepared for my guests.

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  15. lisalyn says

    Thank you for a great post !
    I think taking care of our homes changes us too.
    I feel more like inviting others over when I know the house is clean(ER) then usual :-)
    as it is with my own appearance.. I don’t know if I get treated with more respect by cheerful clerks when shopping b/c I look clean, put together & confident or b/c I just feel better about myself & am less self conscience :-)
    when we clean & make our homes inviting , we are more likely to really enjoy our company & thus , they will enjoy their visit more ..

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  16. Ashley T says

    Hi Laura-Love your blog. Such a blessing to me and my family! I love this post. It made me finally realize why I don’t care about a centerpiece in the middle of the table. Because I’m selfish. I’m not trying to make it look nice for people, I’m trying to make it easier on me. God’s been pointing out how selfish I am, and this is another example. I appreciate the light you’ve shed on this so I can grow! This is starting to sound insincere, but I am sincere! Thank you for all you share!

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  17. Violet says

    Laura, this is why we all love your site! Thanks for a much better reason to do this dreaded chore! I always use company coming as an incentive to clean, because I feel better and can relax and ENJOY their visits rather than feel embarassed or ashamed of my house.

    I also think of the heavenly presence of my Father and our guardian angels and how comfortable or UNcomfortable these holy beings would be in my home. I know I’d be LOVED anyway, but If I haven’t bothered to take care of glaring clutter, stinking garbage, and other home related eyesores, am I honoring their presence? And how about the way I talk to and treat my family? Not that I think I could ever actually make my home worthy, but that my thoughtlessness and negligence is not a good thing.

    Thanks for being here for us, Laura!

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