If you want to change the world,
make your bed.
With these startling words, Naval Admiral William H. McRaven, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, began his commencement address to the graduates of the University of Texas at Austin.
He shares that while in Navy Seal Training, each day started out with an examination of his bed to see if it was properly made. Admiral McRaven explains that small tasks accomplished can set us up to try to successfully complete other ones. Order creates momentum. Whether we succeed or fail at the other tasks, we retire each night with a reminder of a success. The speech became a book that has sold millions of copies.
I am not sharing this story because I think we should treat our kids (or ourselves) as if we were in Navy Seal Team training. But there is a truth here that we need at this present time.
Our minds are calmed by habit, routine, order. None of these are plentiful right now. A day that is full of “whitespace” can actually create anxiety, especially when it is followed by another, and another.
Some Bible examples of routine and order–
God created the week with six workdays and one rest day. Days are determined by the rise and set of the sun, months by the phases of the moon, years by orbits around the sun. The week is not tied to any astrological event–it is God’s intention to create a blessed routine of work and rest.
In Jesus’ family of origin, routines were observed. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. Luke 2:41-42
The Apostles met in the Upper Room after their worlds were turned upside down in the most momentous and traumatic period of their lives–the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. And what did they do? They sought to regain order by replacing Judas, the betrayer. Jesus had chosen twelve, Judas was dead, so they sought to fill the empty place. (Acts 1:13-26) They selected Matthias, a disciple who had been with them from the beginning. Whether this was God’s will or not, it shows that they were taking action to establish order.
So to my point: Establish some order in the midst of the chaos caused by the COVID-19 quarantines. If you have kids at home, they will thrive more when they have wise boundaries, and they will feel less anxious. If you are alone, you will thrive more if you make wise boundaries, and you will feel less anxious. Don’t serve structure, but let structure serve you.
And maybe, start with that bed making thing.
Praying for you all,
A clip from Admiral McRaven’s commencement speech: