Humans don't always idle well. Our interacting, inter-dependent parts were formatted for some kind of movement. We are action figures, wired together by synapses and nerve endings that send impulses to the various elements of our divinely created machinery. The down times like rest, recovery, refreshment, and waiting are usually forced on us because our gears strain for progress. That's one of the hair balls of boredom. It's hard to swallow because it isn't tasty. You know, stale triggers our gag reflexes. And, stale is the flavor of the month when we're in the bored room.
Busy people have stagnant moments too. The repetitive nature of life, and the monotony of aimless living form predictable patterns that can easily become a lifetime running track. Running in hectic, often frantic circles can produce the doldrums that bore and frustrate us. Even the most exciting careers seem perfunctory at times. Any schedules, career paths, family traditions, or repeated commitments pose the threat of becoming routine. This is especially true when applied with fatigue. The people who study such things tell us that we're a time poverty culture of worn people. Being tired makes boredom even more apparent.
What in this world can produce the energy to snap our recurring moments of ennui or listlessness? Think about these stimulants---
1. Reflect on the brevity of human life.
Up front let me say that my thoughts in this direction aren't morbid or pessimistic. Thinking about our own mortality isn't to introduce fear or dread into the discussion about boredom. It is to remind us that life is precious and should be lived expectantly and fruitfully. That's hard for a society that doesn't value human life from womb to tomb, and into eternity. It is to remind us that Scripture pictures life in similes of brevity---life is like water spilled on the ground, a shadow, grass that withers, morning dew, a breath, a vapor, and others. The relative brevity of life should produce in us the desire to live it fully. I mean, who wants to spend this precious life twiddling thumbs, or brooding, or yawning, or shrugging. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Surely that abundant life isn't envisioned as boring. So, we should pray with King David: "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom" (psalm 90:12, ESV).
There's an interesting site I enjoy referencing on occasion that provides more detail about the days of my life. Just yesterday I accessed this site to discover that I am 25193 days old, which is 3599 weeks and 0 days. That's 68 years and 356 days, including 17 leap days, or 68 years, 50 weeks and 6 days. In other words, that's 827.7 months. Therefore, I am 68.975 years old. I was born on a Thursday, my last birthday was a Friday and my next one will be on a Saturday, next Saturday to be exact. If you'd like to calculate the days of you life click here.
Once again this isn't about grieving over the brevity of life. But, it may inject a little energy into your thoughts if you're in a period of complacency.
2. Give some thought to the biblical concept of whatever.
In contemporary culture "whatever?" is boredom speak, the shrug at the end of every personal observation. You know the refrains---
What a gorgeous day! Whatever?
That sermon spoke to me! Whatever?
You look stunning today! Whatever?
God loves you and has a purpose for your life! Whatever?
You need to get a life. Whatever?
Whistle while you work. Whatever?
It's the response of indifference, the matter-of-fact ring tone of nobody being at home. Another way of saying "fughedaboudit".
In the Bible "whatever" is God's invitation to activity, an open door to the personal resources that enable service and purpose out there in the real world. Take note of these "whatever" passages---
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or
knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. Ecclesiastes 9:10, ESV
The idea here is that our hands should find something to do while in this body, for there will be no work, thought, knowledge or wisdom in the grave. A sobering thought.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving
thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17, ESV
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
Colossians 3: 23, ESV
You know, all around us are opportunities to work and serve. Many of them are outside of our particular skill-set, personal talents, spiritual gifts, or passions. Boredom or loss of interest may escalate when our unique contributions aren't suited to the situation. Then, again, there are these "whatever" verses that welcome our participation in the broader concepts of service that may go lacking because no-one is interested, called, or gifted to accomplish them. Our counsel in those circumstances is to accomplish the "whatever" activities with the same grace, resolve, and interest as we would if we were fulfilling our calling or using our unique qualities to honor the Lord. They can be especially blessed times too.
Will boredom happen in your life? Most likely. Some of us visit the bored room occasionally, a good many of us live there all the time. Regardless of the richness of your calling or life situation, when you have a down time, remember the brevity of life, and the joys of completing those "whatever" tasks that may need your attention.
And, yes, giving thanks for them as well.