If you’ve not watched Admiral William McRaven’s commencement speech from a few years back, you should. It’s well worth it no matter who you are or what you believe in. (The book is good, short read.)
Adm. McRaven shares several life lessons he learned in SEAL training that prepared him for the future and that are just as helpful to us. The first? Make your bed.
It’s a funny suggestion coming from a man who was, quite literally, the tip of our Armed Forces spear. This is a man who can handle himself around any weapon, deal with intruders and armies alike, and work at 100% efficiency in almost any situation. And he wants you to make your bed, first thing, every morning.
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson talks about making your bed as well. So does any camp director worth their salt. And, in a lot of ways, so does Christ.
Making Your Bed
There are several ways to make your bed. As a father of three boys and director of a summer camp for kids, I’ve got a bit of expertise in this subject.
Option One is to position the pillows near the head of the bed, throw the top covering over the bed in a haphazard way, and call it a day. The sheets are normally hanging out all over or are crumpled at the bottom of the bed. This is obviously a ‘no-go.’
Option Two has the top sheet straight, pillows placed appropriately, and you can’t see any of the sheets hanging out from under the blanket. Hm…. Lumps remain all over the bed and, try as you might, you can’t get the everything smooth. Pull the blanket back and you’ll see what’s on the inside - the sheets all waddled up.
Option Three takes the most effort and produces the best result. Rather than starting from the blanket, it starts with the fitted sheet before moving to the top sheet, pillows, and blanket. You make sure each of these items, starting from the inside and moving outward, is straight and set.
Being a Christian is a lot like making your bed – there are lots of options… and the corresponding results.
You can go to Sunday church or Sunday School, all dolled up and pious. For one hour of your week, you are thinking about God (or your homework or that practice you just had or the girl sitting across from you.) The rest of you 167 hours that week are spent focused on other stuff… but you (sort of) give God that hour.
That’s Option One. You are a bit of a mess but look somewhat ‘ok’, right?
Option Two still deals with fussing with the outside, what everyone else can see. You join a bible study. You not only attend church but also volunteer. You lead prayers, open doors, and profess the faith. People look at you and see a person acting out the faith.
In the process, however, you organize what is under the blanket in a way that hides the waddled blankets and unkept fitted sheet. There is a lot going on inside you that does not match the outside you want to portray – anger, jealousy, fear, unbelief.... It’s all in there.
(This is how most of us Christians operate, by the way.)
Option Three is the most challenging and deals with starting inside and working your way out. It’s not prideful but purpose-full. It’s not meant for outward show or to make you feel better than others. It’s about deepening your understanding of and relationship with Christ.
Why is that important? Because your actions and attitude flow from what you deem most important and hold closest to you.
Just as we get to choose how we make (or don’t) make our beds every day, we also get to choose how we make up our souls… or not.
We can leave it to our limited attention, our desires, the actions of the willingly brainwashed. We can go through the motions and try to look pretty. Or, we can do the work of study, self-reflection, prayer, and repentance.
You get to choose.
I challenge you to wake up fifteen minutes earlier than you normally would. Take the first three minutes to visit the toilet, brush your teeth, and wake up a bit. Then take two minutes to make your bed, starting with the bottom sheet and moving upward.
Once your bed is made – yes, it should only take you two minutes, even to do it well - take the next eight minutes to read some of the New Testament. Finally, take two minutes to pray. Confess what you've done wrong, ask for help in want to change, and thank God for what you’ve learned this morning.
It’s a great way to start the day - two beds made in fifteen minutes!