My Bed is Still Unmade {Book Club}

Anyone else thinking about making your bed more than normal after reading Chapter 2 in Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren? I am around a 50-50 bedmaker. Oddly, when I’m traveling, I tend to make the bed—more of a “pull up the covers” than a true bed making. I cannot say that I have ever made a bed at the end of the day right before climbing into it. How about you? Are you a bed-making devotee?

When Warren talked about imprinting animals and how her morning routine of looking at her smartphone shortly after waking, I could relate. Because I have an outlet near my bed, I used to plug my phone in to recharge while I slept. However, I found that I, too, was imprinted to my phone. Except it wasn’t only in the morning. Any time I woke up to go to the bathroom or found myself having one of those “I can’t sleep nights,” I would “just briefly check email.”

Who in her right might needs to check email on a regular basis in the middle of the night?

No one.

But this is how rituals and habits form us . . . they grow in power. I found myself formed in a direction that was not good for my overall health. Sleep is necessary for the brain and body and soul. So, finding that “just say no” was not going to work, I started recharging my phone in a room that is not on the path to the bathroom.

“Without realizing it, I had slowly built a habit: a steady resistance to and dread of boredom,” Tish Harrison Warren. I would imagine that line jumped out to you too.

While I doubt that my first move of the day will always be making my bed, I too want my first move of the day not to be a consumer, but a co-laborer with God. I have kept up with building the habit of having my first thought of the day be, “I am beloved.” It is not automatic yet, but becoming easier by the day.

I loved this paragraph: “Some Christians seem to think that we push back against the age primarily by believing correctly—by getting the right ideas into our heads or having a biblical worldview. While doctrinal orthodoxy is crucial in the Christian life, for the most part, we are not primarily motivated by our conscious thoughts. Most of what we do is precognitive. We do not usually think about our beliefs or worldview as we brush our teeth, go grocery shopping, and drive our cars. Most of what shapes our life and culture works ‘below the mind’—in our gut, in our loves.”

I think this is why the line about boredom rings true. For many of us, life overseas sounded like a thrill a minute. And don’t get me wrong, there is an element that is more interesting than daily life “back home.” But day to day, life is often filled with much of the same. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, studying the language, or teaching the children, or preparing the lesson, or drinking tea with a local. “The crucible of our formation is in the monotony of our daily routines.”

Which is both encouraging (Whew, I don’t have to hide or be ashamed of how ordinary life becomes on the field.) AND discouraging (What? you mean location doesn’t equal 100% exciting?).

Chapter 3 explored “standing, kneeling, bowing, and living in a body.” I loved this chapter too. I find the way Warren talks about daily life refreshing. “So much of life, unavoidably, is just maintenance.” It is! But somehow this wasn’t the message I picked up along the way, so when large chunks of my time is taken up with maintenance, I can wonder what I’ve done wrong to miss out on the good life.

I love how Warren talks about ours as an “embodied faith” and reframes the conversation this way: “The scandal of misusing our bodies through, for instance, sexual sin is not that God doesn’t want us to enjoy our bodies or our sexuality. Instead, it is that our bodies—sacred objects intended for worship of the living God—can become a place of sacrilege.” Beautiful.

We are now three chapters in. How have you seen this book challenge or inform or redeem your approach to your life on the field? I look forward to chatting in the comments!

Amy

P.S. Here’s the reading schedule for Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life:

October 16: Chapters 2-3, October 23: Chapter 4, October 30: Chapters 5-6, November 6: Chapters 7-8, November 13: Chapter 9, November 20: Chapter 10, November 27: Chapter 11

Photo by Steve Long on Unsplash

18 Comments

  1. Spring October 15, 2018

    I am really enjoying this book. I love to look at routines. I had been looking at changing my thought processes. I believe you are correct that it is in the daily that they are able to change. I have been reading a book by Caroline Leaf as well as watching her youtube videos. She says it takes 15 min a day for 63 days to change behavior. In the scheme of things, that seems so short. I also am unconvinced that I can actually do it.

    My favorite line in this weeks reading was “everyone wants a revolution, no one wants to do the dishes” Oh so true. And sometimes it feels like not everyone wants to hear about the “dishes” in our lives overseas. You are right in your three statements. I do think the “exoticism ” of life overseas attracts a certain persona but doesn’t sustain them. As the paragraph in the book points out. We need to learn how to wash the dishes, preform routines, seek Him in the unattractive everyday.

    1. Felicity Congdon October 16, 2018

      That line is great! “Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes.” I love it!

      YES I can really relate to being attracted to the “exoticism” of living overseas, but now finding it’s really 80% just the same “maintenance” as life anywhere else. I love this book and like you say here, Spring, I am excited to be learning together how to do these routines while seeking the Lord and trying to develop new routines of thought to go along with all the daily maintenance.

      I would love to bless my children with GOOD thoughts toward daily maintenance things. Right now, I am afraid, too often the message I’m drilling into them is “just hurry up and get it done” rather than this way of participating with God in “creating order out of chaos.”

      We are going to be doing the maintenance either way, but the way we think about it really is important. It’s a huge part of our day and a part of who we are. Our character is being formed in those moments. Wow.

  2. Rachel Kahindi October 16, 2018

    I tried the practice of making the bed and sitting in silence first thing in the morning for a while. Being a slow-to-wake person, I really enjoyed it. Life happened, a few hectic mornings, traveling, etc, and I am out of the habit now. As I said in the roll call last week, I am not a believer in making the bed. My husband is. But he gets up first, so the task falls to me. I never made the bed when we first got married, but on the rare occasion that I did, he was so appreciative, I decided to keep it up.

    I like routines because they eliminate the need to make more decisions. Sometimes, I tell my kids not to ask me if they can do/have anything else for the rest of the day because I just can’t handle another decision. From the book: “We spend our days doing things–we live in routines formed by habits and practices…To be an alternative people is to be formed differently–to take up practices and habits that aim our love and desire toward God. … These habits and practices shape our loves, our desires, and ultimately who we are and what we worship.” What kind of worshipper are my routines forming me into? Are my daily practices malforming me?

    I had to laugh at the part about rebelling from brushing her teeth because I also do that. I’ll brush them tomorrow…

    I appreciated the way she addresses the “two wrong-headed views of the body:” ignoring it or obsessing over it. “If the church does not teach us what are bodies are for, our culture certainly will. If we don’t learn to live the Christian life as embodied beings, worshiping God and stewarding the good gift of our bodies, we will learn a false gospel, an alternative liturgy of the body. … Our bodies are instruments of worship.”

    1. Felicity Congdon October 16, 2018

      Great questions Rachel!!

      What kind of worshipper are my routines forming me into? Are my daily practices malforming me?

      I LOVE your point that routines eliminate decisions. WOW! That is kind of mind blowing because I thought I hated both routines and decision making, but now that you make this point, maybe it will help me to stick to intentional routines so that I won’t have to make decisions.

      What is everyones’ last letter on the meyers-briggs? Do you know? P (perceiving-likes things open ended so waits until the last minute to make decisions) or J (judging-likes things to be decided as far in advance as possible) If feel like this definitely plays a part in this whole liturgy/routine keeping process.

      1. Felicity Congdon October 16, 2018

        (I am a P)

        1. Rachel Kahindi October 17, 2018

          I’m also a P

      2. Abigail November 7, 2018

        That’s an interesting book about the Meyers-Briggs. I’m a J, so being in a season of many unknowns is challenging for me. 🙂

  3. Suzanne October 16, 2018

    I was quite taken with the Jewish saying that is spoken after using the bathroom. Let’s not get into bathroom stories – we have some doozies amongst us, I’m sure – but suffice to say that as I travel right now and attend to basic needs along the way, it struck a chord in me. What a neat way of reminding ourselves of the wonder of how we are made.

    I am also often guilty of wanting to do and be something impressive but neglect the myriad of details and routines that make up life. The book is a good reminder of the value of the small things.

    1. Felicity Congdon October 16, 2018

      I loved that prayer too! I am really enjoying hearing about these set prayers.She mentioned another one regarding confession in the podcast interview Amy linked to in the intro post a couple weeks ago. Reciting prayers is not a tradition I have practiced much, so I don’t have very many prayers memorized, but I am inspired to memorize a few (maybe not the bathroom one, but I still really appreciated it!)

  4. Lindsey October 16, 2018

    I started making my bed after i read this chapter. And do you know what?! I really enjoy it now… creating order in the midst of chaos, especially the chaos of three little kids. The last two weeks I have been sick with different things, and while I didn’t have the energy to do much, I still made the bed- and since I wasn’t doing much cooking or caring for children— (which was super hard for me, and my husband) it was one of the only things I could do. So, I resinated with Tish when she said, “even with all that care, our bodies eventually break down and we get sick , and require even more care. Having a. Body is alot of work!” When all I could do for a couple of weeks was maintain my own living, I felt like I was living this reality. And at first I felt super bad, like I wasn’t able to do language learning, or care for my kids, or cook much, and I tried to slog around doing what I could here and there. But it was really freeing in the grand scheme of things just to give myself permission to be sick. This was really hard for me. I want to do—and achieve, and still I had many days resting in bed— this is humbling, because other people have to help you so much, and you realize that the world goes on without you, and things get taken care of without you, and God’s redemptive plan still goes on without you. And you come to realize, that you are precious and beloved, but not too important in the grand scheme of things. And today, I just went for a short walk, and I was thankful I could even be outside feeling the breeze. And sometimes, I grumble about going to church in a different culture, but on sunday, I sat there so thankful that I even had the strength to be there, and not stuck lounging at home. Don’t get be wrong, I love a good rest, but when all you do is rest, you get quite sick of it… haha, no pun intended. I think thats all for now. There is humility in the ordinary, in the daily maintenance, in the caring regularly for our bodies, and for so many years I have pretended like I was superwoman, that I was not one of those people that needed to be bothered with the daily tasks of living, but now, I am learning to embrace them, in sickness and in health…. now, if I can meet God when the body is suffering— in the midst of it, and know Him greater, that would be awesome…

    1. Felicity Congdon October 16, 2018

      Sorry you have not been feeling well Lindsey. I love your insights here and how it helped you to appreciate being able to be at church. I can relate to often grumbling about going to church in a different culture and your desire to meet with God and get to know him more when your body is suffering (or when attending church in a different culture, for that matter!).

      Thanks for sharing.

    2. Abigail November 7, 2018

      This is so good. Thank you for sharing, Lindsey! This is what I’m going through these days, as multiple sources are telling me I need to rest, due to a recent health issue. I’ve mostly been super healthy and haven’t even gotten sick much at all even living in Asia for 14 years now, so this is not easy for me, to have to rest, and not have anything I can do or accomplish. I also resonate with being able to go outside for a short walk. I was so thankful for the sun, blue sky, fresh air. Love and pr!

  5. Felicity Congdon October 16, 2018

    I too started making my bed after I just *heard* about this chapter from a friend who was reading this book a year ago. So after 35 years of not making my bed, I’ve been making my bed as a habit for a year now and thinking of it as a kind of liturgy, and really enjoying it. But now after reading the whole chapter, I have an even better understanding—Tish writes: “God entered chaos and made order and beauty. In making my bed, I reflected that creative act in the tiniest, most ordinary way….and then there was a little space, an ordered rectangle in my messy home. And that rectangle somehow carved out a small, ordered space in my messy distracted mind.” It really is soooo nice to have that one dependably neat rectangle in my home when the rest of my home is often chaos.

    I love that she then sat on it and prayed. I haven’t yet added that part to my morning routine because most days if I sat back on the bed I would want to lay back down and not want to get up. I have to move to another room and get a cup of water before I can really sit without wanting to doze back off, and unfortunately making morning devotionals a part of my routine has always been hard. I do sometimes, WHILE making the bed, recite a child-like prayer I learned at a retreat several years ago:

    Good morning, Lord! This is your day.
    I am your child, please have your way.

    Do you have a morning prayer like this one? Do you know of a memorized prayer that incorporates the idea of being “his beloved”?? I’d love to hear it! Now that I’ve made bed-making a habit, I want to weave together the habit of prayer along with bed-making. And like Amy, continue to work on making a habit of my first thought being, “I am beloved.”

    Did anyone do the VA retreat a few years ago that included the daily office prayer book? I wonder if there might be a good one in there? I used that for a couple years and really loved it. Although, they were a bit too long for me to memorize and turn into a prayer bed-making ritual…

    1. Rachel Kahindi October 17, 2018

      I love having a morning prayer to recite. It helps so much because my mind is way too foggy to think of words on my own in the mornings. The one I’ve used most is from Hello Mornings (an org totally devoted to morning routines). It’s Psalm 143:8: “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”

      1. Felicity Congdon October 22, 2018

        Thanks Rachel! Great prayer. I had never heard of Hello Mornings.

        Also, it’s great to meet a fellow P!

  6. Sarah C Hilkemann October 18, 2018

    I have been super slow to comment, but am so enjoying reading through this book and savoring it rather than plowing through. I live by routines but don’t pay a whole lot of attention to them, so this book is challenging me to do that. I’ve been struck by many, many things but I have been pondering the end of chapter 3 where the author shares about a priest when he blesses a home and how he prays over the mirror. I am so prone to criticism when I look in the mirror, and the last thing I go to in my thoughts is that I am a beloved child of God (I don’t really go there any time of day I guess). But seeing my body as a gift and involving my body in all aspects of daily worship sounds freeing and life-giving. I am challenged to really pay attention to the way I see my body and routines after reading these first 3 chapters.

  7. Maria Mullet October 21, 2018

    I am really really late to this thread – I had visitors all week so my routine was a bit uprooted, but I really still want to chime in on this discussion of chapters 2 and 3, not because I have anything great to offer, but because I am so deeply challenged by this book and want to be a part of this ploughing deeper.
    In chapter 2, I can hardly sum up what was the most convicting – I, too, imprint my day with my iPhone. I am easily bored and often seek distraction. I want revolution, but hate doing the dishes. So to say that a challenge toward the ordinary, the slow is toe-stepping, is really really putting it mildly. “I often want to skip the boring, daily stuff to get to the thrill of an edgy faith. But it’s in the dailiness of the Christian faith . . . that God’s transformation takes root and grows.”
    In chapter 3, I again found so much to chew on. My life-long struggle with my weight has made me a woman quite aware of my body – I think the line that jumped out at me the very most was the idea of when I denigrate my body, I am essentially rolling my eyes at the Grand Canyon or the Sistine Chapel. Wow.
    I, too, am quite challenged by this book! I’m excited to go deeper.

  8. Ruth Felt October 23, 2018

    I have been loving this book! I think I especially appreciated these chapters. I love how she brings beauty and meaning into all these ordinary moments. And I laughed about the teeth too. “Teeth. So needy.” 😀

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