Three Word Instructions to Simplify Life: What a Fitted Sheet Taught me About Life’s Instruction Book

Fitted sheets. They frustrate me in so many ways. They shift and bulge on the bed. To fold one neatly requires four hands and an hour of time. And the bending and stretching required to put it on the bed burns the calorie equivalent of the candy bar I eat when I’m done. But the most frustrating part of my fitted sheet is determining its direction!

The first corner is easy. Nearly every stretch to the second corner comes up short. I inevitably start with the wrong corner. Just yesterday my sheet changing started this way again. But when I ran my fingers down the edge I felt a tag brush between my fingers. Curiously I paused to take a peek.“Top or Bottom.”

A smirk crossed my lips instantly. How many times have I skipped passed this tiny treat? Sewn right into the hemline in three simple words is the solution to many moments of frustration.

As I fixed my sheets I began to think about other sources of petty annoyance and frustration. I wondered what three word solutions I might find tucked in each situation. Have I overlooked the simple instructions tucked right inside?


If everything in life carried an instruction label we may feel more prepared. More able. More confident in our ability.

Life’s edges do not have tags of instruction, which often leads to struggle. Success isn’t clearly defined by top or bottom. In or out. There is not one right way of doing something. In fact, the individuality of the human mind allows us to get an equivalent positive result by more than one method. You and I can take two different approaches to the same task and both become successful.

So, then, how do we find the instructions for life? How do we know what is right and what is wrong? How do we know we are doing well?

Not by judging another.

Not by comparing our path to another’s.

And not by the cultural definitions of successful.

We must look at the instructions for life given to us in the Bible. Burlap to Cashmere, a Christian rock band from the late 1990s, recorded a hit song using the acronym “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth,” for Bible. The Bible is packed with advice and instructions on how to live life.  

Some even come in the simple three word format:

God is love. (1 John 4:16)

He is able. (Hebrews 7:25)

Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Fear no evil. (Psalm 23:4)

Live in peace. (1 Corinthians 7:15)

Shine your light. (Matthew 5:16)

Every thought captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Love one another. (John 13:34)

Feed my sheep. (John 21:17)

Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Love your neighbor. (Matthew 22:39)

Love your enemy. (Matthew 5:44)

Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)

Love is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4)

The simple three words of instruction I found in the crease of my sheet eased my struggles of bed-making, but it is still a challenge. It is a starting point. A beginning. This week I choose to start my days with some of the three-word instructions of the Bible. It may not take away all of my struggle, but it is the beginning of a life well lived.

What three-word instruction can you put into practice this week to ease your struggles? Comment below, or join me on facebook to take part in the conversation.


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