“Mom, I’m bored.” What mother hasn’t heard this, especially during Christmas break or summer vacation?
My mom always had an answer: “Why don’t you weed the garden, shovel the snow or wash the windows? You won’t be bored then.”
But there is a deeper boredom that is really a disease of our time. As 20th century author Reinhardt Kuhn observed, boredom “is not one theme among others; it is the dominant theme … a modern plague.”
We live in a time when many of us call out to God like a child: “God. I am bored with you and all you have given me.”
We are like spoiled children, who after opening all the gifts at Christmas still demand more. This boredom ruins marriages, destroys families and relationships and drives us into a frenzy of trying to fill an emptiness that only God can fill. Bored with your spouse? Swap them out. Bored with your job? Seek the perfect one. Bored with school? Drop out.
We purchase and consume material goods in an effort to overcome boredom. We take more vacations in hopes of finding happiness. We wait for the next big movie, and even before it begins we watch previews of even more movies.
We are bored with life.
What? How? The greatest gift we have is boring? And yet, this is the case if we see nothing greater to live for but ourselves and our desires.
My friends, we are bored because we have forgotten who and what we are.
Our Father in heaven has bestowed such gifts upon us that that are even called the children of God. And so we are. We must to recall the great gift of life.
It’s not just our life, but the life of others that we need to uphold, respect, serve and love. Instead we treat life as a bother. Children are a bother. So we abort them. Those with disabilities, the elderly and the seriously ill are a bother, so we euthanize them. We are tempted in our boredom.
In C.S. Lewis’ book, “The Screwtape Letters,” the devil gives his assistant this advice: “My dear Wormwood … I have always found that the [boring] periods of the human undulation provide excellent opportunity for all sensual temptations.” We surf the internet at night to fill that God-shaped hole with some passing fancy that can never satisfy. Pornography addiction grows in this environment and wreak havoc on our families. As one author said in an article on boredom: “There is a life-numbing boredom seemingly born of the modern age — a pathological boredom — a “So what?, Who cares?, been-there-done-that, nothing matters, let’s-make-a-pipe-bomb kind of boredom.”
It is a jaded way to approach life — devoid of all wonder, contentment and passion.
Rather than seeking to medicate or deaden our boredom, we need to cultivate active, creative alternatives. These include creative pursuits, thoughtful projects, activities that stimulate the mind, such as reading or writing. We need to cultivate relationships with friends and social and emotional connections with loved ones. We need encounters with creation and the natural world. We need athletic challenges.
Our mothers were right to force us to do something when we claimed to be bored.
The spiritual medicine needed for our time involves praise and thanksgiving, which provide immunity to boredom, bitterness, frustration, apathy, laziness, cynicism and a host of other spiritual diseases. Giving thanks and praise throughout the day, even for the most mundane things, cultivates contentment and gratitude. Praise and thanksgiving alter our mood and mind far greater than any drugs.
Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father. Begin to make choices to break boredom’s hold on you. Cultivate creative alternatives. Choose action over inactivity and people over isolation. You are a new creature in Christ, so pursue and cooperate with God’s transformation of your character. Let’s have a year of thanksgiving rather than a year of boredom.