2 Timothy 1:7 – For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
For the majority of my married life, I’ve made our bed every morning. In the beginning, I did it grudgingly. As a logical being, I don’t quite understand what the big deal is about having straightened-out sheets, pillows and comforters, when I’m just gonna mess it right up later that night! Do we scrub the toilet every time it’s used? How many of us steam-clean our toothbrush every day? I mean, if a made bed is so important, why not go all out and change all the bedding daily (and flip the mattress while you’re at it)?
As it happens, unmade beds are one of my wife’s few pet peeves; she hates it so much, she performs a preliminary bed-making exercise every morning…in hotel rooms (she also critiques table settings). So, as a gesture of my affection for her, I started making our bed. It’s become my daily valentine to my wife: I respect her thoughts and feelings – regardless of my complete understanding of them – and I’m more than willing to sacrifice a couple minutes of my mornings to tangibly demonstrate the depth of that respect. Friends: it’s one thing to say “I don’t take you for granted” to someone; it’s another level when you’ve identified a repeatable activity in which you can show it.
Over the years, making our bed has become more than a chore I was doing, that I didn’t quite buy was necessary, for someone else’s benefit. It’s turned into a cathartic routine; an exercise in formally ending yesterday, and beginning anew, welcoming the day with a clean slate – tabula rasa, if you will. As part of his 2014 commencement address at the University of Texas, Admiral William H. McRaven shared that the military ethic of making one’s bed isn’t simply a way to instill discipline in the ranks; among other things, that small task “reinforces the fact that little things in life matter.” So, in effect, making my bed has become a daily prayer of appreciation for the opportunity to greet whatever the fates may have in store, knowing that I have the capability to achieve any endeavor I pursue by successfully completing my first task of the day.
As busy human beings trying to navigate life’s twists and turns, we tend to focus on the bigger issues, spending a great deal of time trying to ensure that, if we can’t eliminate problems, we can at least keep them manageable. It is rare for us to delight in our ability to address the smaller things that are within our control, because many of us feel that our time is best invested in seeking the grand solutions versus the repeatable victories that register much lower on the emotional Richter scale. The old axiom of “stopping to smell the roses” is just one way to invite peace and serenity into the chaos that our daily lives can easily become, if we let it. Take it from someone who has been married awhile – achieving a moment or two of peace is a good thing!
Ultimately, I believe that’s why God gave us the gift of prayer; it reminds us that, while we cannot always understand His grander plan, we must appreciate any opportunity for His spirit to work through us…and, praying for guidance further demonstrates that we never take His mercy for granted. In other words, prayer is the act of making your spiritual bed –adding as many throw pillows as you desire.
Benevolent Father, I am thankful for your grace and mercy. I humbly ask for your continued guidance in my journey for peaceful serenity, to better serve as a virtual feather bed of compassion for my neighbors, Amen.
Posted with permission from Brian Foster
Brian Foster has been a member of Saint Andrew Christian Church since 1999. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.