I Should Really Clean My Tub More

Confession:  Despite my relatively neat home, I rarely (if ever) clean my tub.

My reasoning goes something along the lines of "well we're cleaning when we're in there and it's filled with water and soap and it's constantly getting rinsed  and all.  It doesn't really need it and I don't really see any dirt anyway.  So...I don't think it needs it.  Besides who else but me is going to notice?  And anyway when I'm showering I'm going to do that ultra efficient thing and scrub away any smudges I happen to see with my big toe and then aim the water in the right way so that all the postpartum hairs jumping with gusto out of my scalp get whisked away down the drain.  There.  Job done."

I know, I know.  Ew.  Several months ago during my Advent cleaning I got super motivated and looked up Martha Stewart's magical tub scrub and got to it.  It didn't look all that dirty when I started.  But I figured if I was going to "Advent clean" this bathroom, heck yeah I was going to go on Pinterest and find the Martha way and do it right.

So I scrubbed.  And scoured.  And elbow greased.  And what do you know?  The "already clean" white tub started to sparkle and the tub I thought was already white got whiter.  And the parts that weren't yet scrubbed began to look dingy next to the new white.  Eventually the whole tub was looking shiny and began to look newish again and I felt like the rest of the bathroom looked nicer, too.  And (ready for it?) that's when the two by four came and slammed me in the face.  How I often approach my soul in the same way that I approach my tub.

I get to Mass every week and I get showered with an abundance of grace during the Mass and by partaking in the Eucharist.  I stay away from the big sins.  And when I do notice a smudge of a particular sin on my soul, I get myself to a priest and smear that smudge out with the big toe of Confession.  (Award for awkwardest sacramental analogy goes to me, thank you very much.)  

I keep my soul just clean enough so that no one notices the dinginess and you know what?  Pretty soon I don't notice.  I don't notice the little vices that have come in and yellowed up my shiny porcelain.  The harmful ugly attitudes excused away as personality.  The sins rationalized as "mistakes" or justified by extenuating circumstances.  The resentment and unforgiveness guarded carefully and falsely in the name of justice.  It's just who I am and it's just the lot I've been given.  God made us all different and I wouldn't want to be all syrupy perfect anyway, I tell myself, once again mistaking sanctity with homogeneity.

It's hard to grow in holiness.  Really hard.  I hang on to all those defects because the scrubbing hurts, and even more, it's tedious and takes a long time.   It seems kind of pointless, right?  I mean, I can still get to heaven without working really hard.  I can just keep up the status quo, pass the housekeeping test of not being too filthy, and be content that at the end of the day, I'm still an okay wife and mom and person even though I haven't really scrubbed that tub lately.  Slide my way into heaven by keeping my soul just clean enough.  Why do the work when the outcome isn't all that different and no one would really notice but me anyway.


  He will.  

Just as I got in the shower that night and reveled in how really clean it was even though no one else but me noticed, so HE will revel and delight in my soul even more when I work to make it a fitting dwelling place for the King of Kings.  HE lives there and it is for Him.  He'll know the time I took getting it just so and the work and pain that went into restoring it to its full dignity.  And just as that glistening tub made the rest of the bathroom look better and newer and not as intimidating to clean, perhaps the more soul scrubbing I endure the more the world will be a slightly better, newer, and fresher place to be.

Tomorrow, I think I need to figure out a plan to get some serious soul scrubbing done.

And then I think I'll clean my tub.
(For the first time since Advent.)

p.s. And in case all that philosophizing was just blah blah blah distracting from what you really wanted, here's the link for that Martha Stewart tub scrub.  It really works.


  1. So interesting! Have you ever read Father Dave's 'walking the camino?' book? If not you should, if you have, this reminds me of the washing of the clothes story. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. No! But I keep saying I want to which is sorta the same, no? SO WEIRD that you would bring him up. Had a dream about him the other night, then a friend mentioned him randomly the next day and now you. Maybe I should drop him a line :)

  2. Super analogy. I barely clean my tub too, and because I shower "blind" I don't even notice until those rare occasions when I shower at night and still have my contacts in and I'm like "How did it get so dirty in here, and why didn't anybody tell me??"

  3. Great post Mary! And, if you want Fr Dave's book . . . I will send it to you. I read it and loved it, and want to share the love. Just email me at katiepetko (at) yahoo (dot) com . Mary can tell you that I am perfectly normal (We knew each other a little at Steubeville and worked at the same school in MI together!).

    And, thanks for sharing the link to the tub scrub. I do not clean our tub nearly enough either, but love the way it shines when I do!

    1. I KNEW I recognized your face from somewhere...you were totally my R.D. at Franciscan, right?! I was only in Marian one year but I remember you! And I'm pretty sure you were normal then so I'll take my chances :) Thank you so much!

  4. I love this analogy... I often think along these lines when I'm weeding my garden. It takes such diligence to keep the weeds of sin out of our life. And if we let them grow, they end up choking out the life of what we want growing in our gardens (lives). Weeds can be so deceptive because some are beautiful and even produce flowers....but they tend to take over! (just like sin can...)

    I really like that God gives us practical analogies because it can give meaning to mundane tasks like cleaning our bathtubs and weeding our gardens. I'll probably never look at cleaning my shower the same again - but use it as an opportunity for spiritual growth and a little scrubbing of my own soul!

    1. Great point about the weeds! Totally true. Reminds me of the parable of the sower and the seeds.

  5. Mary, this is hands down, the best blog post I have read in a while. This very topic is on my mind often, and you wrote about it perfectly. Thank you. Very sincerely - thank you.

    You sort of mentioend this the other evening, but this type of soul-srubbing is hard to work on when you know that being a Good-Enough Catholic isn't where you should be, but priests in confession go easy on us and downplay our sins - I think sometimes they're so happy to see people coming to the sacrament they want to go easy on us! But it sometimes makes it tricky to follow through with the interior changes WE know we need to make. (definitely not writing about this as well as you! Thanks again for sharing these thoughts!)

  6. Awesome! Not even realizing how dingy I am...that is such a great meditation point!!! GReat lenten timing. Thank you for this great post!

  7. Well-said, Mary! Lisa P.


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