I will admit up front that what I write to you today reeks of boredom. Actually, I came across an article recently on the subject of….boredom. It wasn’t a terribly exciting article, as you might have guessed, but it did have some interesting facts on the topic, as well as some theories from some boring experts. Oh wait, those were boredom experts.
It seems that several authors have written books in the past few years about the dangers of boredom in our contemporary society. They claim that boredom fuels everything from extramarital affairs and drug addiction to coronaries and car accidents.
Curiously, boredom seems to be a modern ailment. The word didn’t exist in the English language until after 1750, notes Patricia M. Spacks, author of Boredom: The Literary History of a State of Mind.“If people felt bored before the 18th century, they didn’t know it,” she says. But, once the concept had a name, it became universal. Philosophers ruminated over it. Teenagers whined about it. And psychologists churned out lots of research.
One of the more unexpected findings is that the best cure for boredom might be more boredom. Folks today have a lot more diversions at their disposal–DVD’s, MP3’s, PDA’s and Internet access everywhere. But we might not be any better off. One of the great ironies of modern life is that “in an age when we have more entertainment available to us than ever before, there seems to be an epidemic of boredom,” writes psychiatrist Richard Winter in his book, Still Bored in the Culture of Entertainment.Winters and other commentators believe society is so saturated with movies, TV, video games and advertising that people are losing their sense of wonder.
So, what is a Christian response to boredom? To begin with, as children of God, we should neverbe blamed for being bored, or for that matter, boring. Jesus said He came to give us life, and life more abundantly (John 10:10). That doesn’t sound boring to me. Though many people have the impression that a life of faith is mundane and excitement-free, I would beg to differ. Jesus’ call to committed discipleship is an invitation to a life of daily challenges and change, to incredible opportunities and possibilities, and to connect with the supernatural God of the universe. And that is anything but boring!
However, if you sometimes wonder if you’re catching the epidemic of boredom, let me suggest a few faith-focused solutions, for some real-life “boredom busters”:
1) Enjoy the mundane.The apostle Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord, always. And again, I say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4) Boredom is a state of mind, more than it is circumstantial–and so too is enjoyment. Jesus said He came to put His joy in us, and that our joy would be complete (John 15:11). Learn the secret of contentment (that Paul explained later in that same chapter of Philippians): it’s what’s inside, not what’s outside, that counts!Enjoy the simple pleasures–family, conversation, even eating! Which leads to…
2) Simplify your life.Have you noticed that more gadgets, toys and information don’t satisfy your longings? The more you have, the more you want, and the more your dissatisfaction is magnified. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the trap of thinking the world owes you constant entertainment, and don’t just hurry from one activity to another, missing out on the meaning along the way. Take stock of the “wonder” in and around your life. “Be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10)
3) Serve somebody.There’s always something else to do, somebody else to serve. My kids know to never say, “I’m bored,” because they will get one of two answers. One is, “It’s not our joy to entertain you.” And the second is, “If you need something to do, we’ll find you something to do!” If you are complaining that your life is boring, I doubt you’ve looked very hard for something to do. Jesus said He didn’t come to be served, but to serve (Matt. 20:28), and He called His followers to be servant-minded like Him. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t imagine Jesus ever whining about being bored. And neither should we who call Him Lord ever be bored, as long as there are people to love and serve and reach out to in the world around us.
I hope and pray that as a child of God, you’ll never get bored with your relationship with Him, or of your involvement in His church. I pray also that He will pour out His abundant blessings on your life, from the inside out. I look forward to seeing you Sunday.