Do you ever feel like one day passes to the next … and to the next … and to the next with little energy, purpose, or significance? Some days are like that. Some weeks are like that. But if we go too long without identifying the cause behind our boredom, we can find ourselves stuck in a rut where we identify all too well with Solomon’s words, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
Musicians such as John Lennon have echoed Solomon’s sentiment: “I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round.” Or how about the Dave Matthews Band song from 1993, “Ants Marching”?
He wakes up in the morning
Does his teeth, bite to eat and he's rolling
Never changes a thing
The week ends, the week begins
Brené Brown defines boredom as “the uncomfortable state of wanting to engage in satisfying activity, but being unable to do it” (Atlas of the Heart, 40). She goes on to say that boring tasks can leave us feeling lethargic and frustrated.
How do we fight the boredom blues? How do we recapture the purpose and passion, the significance and sense of direction? According to Brown, we need to recognize that not all experiences of boredom are bad.
A recent study shows that “simple, boring tasks or mundane activities can allow our minds to wander, daydream, and create. The lack of stimulation that defines `being bored’ gives our imagination room to play and grow” (idem.). Researcher and writer Sherry Turkle says, “Boredom is your imagination calling to you” (ibid., 41).
Easier said than done? Perhaps.
Depending on your personality, you may swing the pendulum to laziness as an excuse for “creativity,” as in, “I’m not lazy, I’m just being creative.” And yet your laziness spirals downward into depression or into unhealthy behaviors and coping mechanisms.
Or you swing the pendulum to workaholism as an excuse for “productivity,” as in, “I’m not a workaholic, I’m just a productive human being.” And yet your busyness is actually a ploy to avoid your own thoughts, emotions, and relationships.
Jesus shows us a better way. A rhythm. A sustainable pace whereby we step into potential moments of boredom to rest and re-create in order to re-engage for purposeful living. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). How boring. Exactly. But “being bored” led to “being active” whereby, in the very next verse, Jesus was strengthened to teach and heal the sick (Luke 5:17).
Here’s my encouragement to you. Get bored so that you can get going. Don’t use your boredom as an excuse for lethargy; use it for the purpose of creativity. And don’t use your activity as an excuse for hiding from your thoughts, emotions, and relationships. Rediscover the rhythm of Jesus, so that when one day rolls into the next … and the next … and the next, your pace becomes purposeful, and your boredom becomes beneficial.