Clean Conscience

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“Clean Conscience,” New Era, Jan. 1998, 27

Clean Conscience

What do Laman, Lemuel, and Nephi have to do with cleaning carpets?

That’s the second time Steve has looked in the door. I move the carpet cleaning machine a bit more quickly. I rationalize that no one will know if this corner isn’t soaped quite as thoroughly as the rest of the room.

It’s only my second day cleaning apartments on my own at my new carpet cleaning job, and I haven’t quite got the hang of running power vacuums yet. I know that everyone else has been finished for at least 20 minutes. They are waiting to return to our office where we can take a break. I’m eager to make a good impression and prove I can keep up with the crew.

The large vacuum scuttles across the floor as I move the wand back and forth. The mist of diluted soap that sprays out as I squeeze the lever on the handle now only sparsely covers the floor.

I see a shadow on the wall and turn around. It’s Gary this time.

“You almost done?”

“Yeah, there’s just this room left. Give me five minutes.”

He nods, and I carefully move the machine around the bed and allow my mind to wander. I run down a mental checklist of things I need to do when I get home. I have homework to finish for my Book of Mormon class tomorrow. I think about what my teacher said yesterday. It was something I’ve never thought about before. He said that most people usually think of Laman and Lemuel only as evil men who caused all sorts of problems for Nephi. But a part of the story we often overlook is that Laman and Lemuel did return to Jerusalem and they did help build the ship. In fact, they ended up doing almost everything the Lord commanded. The biggest difference between them and Nephi was that Nephi obeyed God willingly. Laman and Lemuel obeyed reluctantly out of fear.

I stop the carpet cleaning machine and look down at the chocolate-colored carpet uneasily, feeling the truth of my teacher’s statement that too often we are more like Laman and Lemuel than we would like to believe. Slowly, I move the vacuum back to the door and begin cleaning the room again, this time crossing the room in slow, thorough sweeps.

Completely cleaning that carpet was just a little thing, but it represented a much bigger one—my renewed commitment to maintain complete integrity in all my dealings, including on the job.

Illustrated by Greg Newbold