This I Believe: I Believe In Making The Bed

Dec 24, 2009

Essayist Chris Brearly.

When I was growing up, I fought constantly with my parents over making my bed in the morning. An after-breakfast check-in was routine at my house. My mom or dad would walk down the hall, check each room, and call from upstairs, "Stop whatever it is you're doing and come make your bed." It was a chore that I simply did NOT like, and so I avoided it. I thought it was absurd to make my bed every morning. It was counterproductive. What could be the benefit of straightening a bed in the morning that would inevitably be undone that evening? This puzzled me for a long time.

Then in high school, my theology teacher talked about the beauty of symbolism in worship. He said he would often light a candle while he prayed or studied the Bible. My teacher described the candle as being a physical representation of the presence of God in his life. Consequently, the candle itself became much more than a candle. It became a powerful symbol of his beliefs.

I was amazed that simple objects could be used to represent meaningful ideas in such a powerful way. I began to look for symbolism in everyday life.

Soon the simple motion of ordering my sheets and blankets, which had seemed like a burden in childhood, became fundamentally more meaningful. The physical motions of making my bed changed from a mundane chore to a tangible display of my Christian faith.

Now when I make my bed, I see it as symbolic of the Christian story. The disheveled bed mirrors the brokenness in the world. When I straighten the sheets, it reflects the restoration of order and peace accomplished by Christ. The simple act of making my bed becomes a reminder of the redemption that can be found in Christ.

Everyone uses symbols every day. They let us sum up entire thoughts in a single visual object or physical gesture, from a warning label to a handshake. Applause is just meaningless noise without a link to the clappers’ affections. And symbolism is present in all religions. For example, in the bowing of the head in prayer, or in the unique architecture of the place of worship.

I believe in the power of symbolism. It has led me to look for a deeper meaning in everyday things. The mundane task of making my bed has become more than just a morning chore for me. The untangling and smoothing of the sheets is a tangible representation of my Christian faith.

Before I go to class in the morning, the symbolic act of making my bed now inevitably leads me to think about my beliefs. This symbolism doesn’t just give me a strong reason to make my bed in the early hours of the morning; it encourages and prepares me as I face the coming day.