Some years ago, I endured a long night at a hotel where I tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable.
You see, I had forgotten to bring my own pillow, and the one the hotel supplied just didn’t feel right.
So at 3:00 AM, I lay there wide awake thinking about pillows.
When I was younger and used to watch a lot of westerns, I always felt sorry for those poor cowboys who had to set their heads down on rocks or saddles during their long cattle drives. No wonder they were always ready for a fight! Who wouldn’t be after a night with a rock for a pillow?
I don’t know who invented pillows. I do know that carved wooden beds were first made in Egypt, but instead of pillows they used wooden curved headrests. Maybe it’s what you get used to. But if I knew the name of the person who invented the soft fluffy pillow, I would certainly see to it that he or she got some mention in the Convenience Hall of Fame.
Of course, all pillows are not created equal. Some of them are purely decorative, round or square or even triangular, too small for your head, sometimes adorned with buttons and other decorations. Some pillows are too soft, giving virtually no support. Some, like the one in my hotel, have no give and keep your head too high. But, as Goldilocks might have said, there’s a pillow that’s just right for everyone.
Some pillows, like the one I use, have a molded ridge which supports your neck, and then a dip which keeps the head at a perfect angle. According to a couple of “experts” I’ve talked to, the perfect pillow should support your neck while keeping your head at the same angle it is when standing (i.e. straight).
Some people take their pillows with them wherever they go. Not too difficult if you’re driving, but a pillow can take up a lot of space when you’re going by air.
And then, of course, there are those special times which call for creative use of more than one pillow. When I was pregnant, I would lie on my side with at least four pillows: one under my head, one under my stomach, one behind my back, and one between my knees. This made a huge difference in my ability to sleep at night, and that made a big difference in my ability to be patient during the day.
If you’re stuck in bed, two or three pillows behind the back and another one or two under the knees can increase your comfort level. You can even buy a special foam triangular pillow to put under your knees if you lie on your back.
For some strange reason, few hospitals understand the benefits of pillows. You get one, maybe two if you really push, but more than that you have to bring from home. Naturally, I did!
Now, I’m sure you agree with me that pillows are great, but you’re still probably wondering why I’m going on and on about them.
My reasoning is that it’s very easy for us to focus on things that annoy us while we take for granted “ordinary” things that other people over the years (and even some today) would consider miraculous.
Things like pillows.
Or firm, comfortable beds and all those wonderful soft sheets and blankets and duvets. Imagine sleeping on a straw pallet with only an itchy homespun blanket!
Chairs. Especially comfortable recliner chairs and desk chairs that can be adjusted for height and angle.
Eating utensils of all types and sizes. Even special spoons for grapefruit.
Toothbrushes and good-tasting toothpaste. (Mine is licorice-flavoured and I feel guilty using it because it taste’s so good!)
Furnaces that don’t need to have wood or coal shoveled in each morning and evening.
Wash and wear clothes.
So many other people don’t have the luxuries we do, of having enough food to eat, and a place to sleep, and the ability to choose what we do with our lives.
So rather than focusing on the negative part of my sleepless night in a hotel, I thought about how fortunate I am to live in this century and in this country. And I promised God I’d try to remember to feel gratitude for the many things I take for granted, and not to grumble when my electric toothbrush’s battery dies or the internet goes down, or some other minor issue inconveniences me.
And I thought about why God put me where I am instead of some other place and time—presumably because there’s something I can do for Him—some way I can use the resources He’s given me to help others come to know Him and step out in faith to do what He’s give them to do. And then I realized the irony of my thoughts. You see, the reason I was in a hotel was that I’d traveled from home to be the keynote speaker at a women’s retreat the next day. My topic was “Make Disciples As You Go.” They’d asked me to come because of an article of mine that had been published in their denominational magazine, and I have to admit I was a bit nervous.
So in the middle of the night, God and I had a long conversation, and I told him that I’d try to use the many resources I have to make a difference in this world, in both a physical and spiritual way, and that I’d trust Him to lead me. The next day, I told the ladies about my lumpy pillow, my sleepless night, about being grateful to God without either taking what we have for granted, and about using what we have to help others, even if we can’t see that it makes much of a difference in the big scheme of things. We had a great day.
And, well, okay, I’ll admit it. I also made a note to myself to bring my pillow along the next time I traveled.