Fine Art and Made Beds

In college, I met a girl who told me her mom’s response to her every childhood request was, “Did you make your bed today?”

Mom, I want a puppy.

Did you make your bed today?

Mom, I want new shoes.

Did you make your bed today?

I want to quit basketball.

Did you make your bed today?

I want to join the track team.

Did you make your bed today?

Mom didn’t just give in and agree to any or every request if said girl’s bed was, in fact, made. Rather, this was a starting place of conversation. You want more responsibility? Less responsibility? More pretty things? Let’s talk about the most simple and easy of tasks. Let’s talk about taking care of and being grateful for and not taking advantage of something routine and simple. She said her mom’s heart was to help her kids take pleasure in and care of the small things. To remember it’s easy to want more speed sparkle and pizzaz, but sometimes very difficult to complete even the most routine and mundane duties of life.

Duh, that’s why they’re called mundane.

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve failed to make my bed fewer than ten times in the past fifteen years. For some reason, college girl’s story really impacted me. I want to be mindful, responsible, excellent with the smallest parts of my day. Especially those parts that are an everyday occurrence. How do I approach and respond to the tidbits of life? The things I will encounter time after time, day after day. The things so seemingly insignificant, but that scream loads and tons and bucket-fulls about my priorities, character, and perspective on the world, things, life.

Wow. That’s a lot of stock to put into making your bed.

I know. And it’s less about the bed, and more about realizing how much we take for granted. How much of our lives can pass us by without noticing. How much opportunity we have to be grateful—even in the smallest ways—but choose to roll or twirl or bounce to whatever’s next. Whatever’s more important. Whatever’s shinier or more seen by other people.

I’m not really a details person. People think I am because I can choose to be if needed, or if it’s related to something I really care about. But I’m much more of a big picture girl. The big picture is my life is happy and organized and full of peace and laughter and warm coffee and yummy smelling candles and very, very clean kitchens and bathrooms. Filled with joyful children who engage in imaginative play for hours on end, a husband who wants to be around me and hear me and talk to me at the end of a hard day’s work, friends who know they can count on me and connect with me over seasons of bounty or of pain, a body that bends and moves and performs when I ask it to, work that thrills me and makes me feel full of life and purpose and satisfaction.

The big picture is great. In fact, it’s fantastic. I want to mat it and frame it and hang it high for all to see.

Is a diamond encrusted, gold frame too gaudy? Maybe we’ll stick with a clean-cut, mid-century-modern, walnut finish.

I want to gaze at and meditate on and admire that big picture for years to come. I want it to be mine.

But big pictures don’t just happen. They don’t just paint and mat and frame and hang themselves. They take time, intentionality, attention to detail. They take vision and foresight—the ability to imagine away the blank, white canvas and strategically—swipe by swipe, stroke by stroke—fill that space with dark and light, depth and bright. They take structure, a plan, and someone showing up day in and day out, inserting detail after detail, to finally realize and complete the big picture. And if it’s really good—like Smithsonian or Louvre good—the bed has been made. There hasn’t been a routine or mundane or foundational piece skipped. Because really great art doesn’t skimp. It doesn’t jump out of bed and rush off to whatever’s next, leaving behind a torrent of duvet chaos. It builds. Swipe by swipe, stroke by stroke. Layering detail after detail.

That’s why my bed is made. Because it’s my first swipe and stroke of the day. It’s the foundation I’m going to build off of. Every layer of happy and peace, warm coffee, clean kitchen, relationships with kids and husband and friends, sizzle of joy in the workplace—it all starts with me getting out of my bed, saying thank you to my fluffy pillow, and recognizing that small act of ordering and pulling up and smoothing out as a detail that shan’t be missed.

I said shan’t because it sounds really proper, and we are talking about fine art, after all.

Like I said, I’m not a details person. But I’m trying to be, when it matters. I’m learning to decipher and discern what areas and people in my life deserve more detail from me. More attention. More gratitude. More ordering, pulling up, and smoothing out. Because I don’t have all those strokes in place yet. I don’t have the big picture painted and framed and hung.

Hanged, if we’re still being proper.

But each swipe and stroke gets me closer. Each job well done, child well snuggled, husband well kissed adds needed detail to the big picture. Each time I stop and say “no” to the unimportants and “yes” to what actually brings me joy and gratitude and grounding adds indescribable depth to that fine art I want hanging on my wall. And it’s not about being perfect or never stopping. About ordering and pulling up and smoothing out until you’re bent over and out of breath. Sometimes it actually means letting things go. Letting go of anything you don’t want to gaze upon in that big picture. So you have the time and space and freedom to build and make and paint life into your every day. To see the details for what they are and how they add. To not despise small beginnings, but to remember it’s the tidbits and easily-forgottens our lives are actually built on.

Did you make your bed today?

Until next time, Ana

One thought on “Fine Art and Made Beds

  1. I love this: “Like I said, I’m not a details person. But I’m trying to be, when it matters. I’m learning to decipher and discern what areas and people in my life deserve more detail from me.”

    I read this recently and I think about it multiple times a day: “We serve an unhurried God.”

    He does not look at time like I do. I see time as the monthly squares on my calendar and the daily columns and rows of my Excel to-do list. I want to see time like my Lord does. To paraphrase Elisabeth Eliot, the future is not my business–but the next step is. Knowing He is unhurried calms my heart. Asking Him about the next step brings peace.

    Like

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