Simple Advice for Complex People

Matthew 18:21-35

“Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven time?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

thDuring my six months of unemployment before beginning here, I did it only twice. I would look at it and say to myself, “It’s fine. Leave it.” I’d pass it in the afternoon and say to myself, “It’s okay the way it is. Just leave it alone. The night would come, and I’d lie in it again and think to myself, “It’s just the way I left it this morning.” Was I satisfied, content or just bewildered while moving from what I knew to what I didn’t know.

You know, I’ve learned over my years that life is not as rough as we make it out to be. I think people-who-think-rough impose it upon themselves and others for whatever reasons – blame your parents, overtly religious, blame your boss, just being anal, or they just don’t like themselves. Life is not that rough and tumble. (And if you’re over thirty and still blaming your parents, you may wish to find a drug. It’s not their fault!)

At St. Bernard’s last week, I used a sentence that I admired when I wrote it: “If your life is authentic and genuine, then whatever good or bad occurs, you will see it through.” (It even rhymes.)

And it all begins with a simple morning task either before coffee or leaving for work that I failed to do for six months.

These are words from a Navy SEAL Admiral given a commencement speech.
“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack — that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task — mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.”

Is life that simple or is life that complicated?

I’d say that it all begin as young boy and garbage. “Joe, take the garbage out.” I reply, “Do I have to?” It then moves to Sunday night grade school and the piercing question, “Is your homework done?” It quickly evolves to your first job and your supervisor says, “I have another project for you,” adding to your present incomplete two projects. It then advances into marriage and giving in to an argument with your wife – and again this time saying to yourself without saying it out loud, “Do I have to?”

The beauty of the “making your bed” metaphor is its mundane and ordinariness, allowing to either create or acknowledge that “extra” something living and breathing inside of you.

Jesus’ gospel is obvious when the obvious lies before us. (We wasted all that college money.) The guy simply lays it out there for us as easily as making our bed. The saying, “Make your bed and then lie in it” no longer means only accepting the consequences of your actions but it also means celebrating your successes. Is the gospel about forgiveness or hypocrisy? Forgiveness not given to someone from someone unable to forgive himself. Is it hypocrisy for setting a different standard for everyone else except herself. I bet the servant’s bed was a mess.

We need a Naval SEAL and we need the Son of God to tell us that it’s in the details; it’s in our inner selves, it’s not taught to us but witnessed to us by fellow bed-making fellows, it’s in the silence of our quiet moments when we’re able to confidently say to ourselves and to God, “that my life is authentic and real, I really can handle and deal with whatever life brings to me and to those I love.”

What possibly more could or would God expect of us? We already know the answer. And, the answer is totally no more nor less.

I almost forgot the best part of the Admiral’s commencement about the bed. He said, “And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. If you want to change the world” (if you want to change your world then), “start off by making your bed.”

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on

“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

Newest books include:
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
This entry was posted in Spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Simple Advice for Complex People

  1. Bruce Clanton says:

    FUNNY JOE…I came across that Navy Seal commencement address and listened to it. Barely. Distracted. Missed the whole bed story…though that was what I turned to it for. SO…glad you told it. And such a good point. Enjoyed this. again. Keep it up.


  2. Reblogged this on Lifenlightenfreedom and commented:
    We are all sinners but He forgive us and He gave his only begotten son to save us all for our sins.God loves us.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.