I do not handle boredom well. I’m not talking about a lack of activity because I have decided to rest, relax, and not make plans. No. I’m talking about boredom where I have no plans I can make, I have reached my threshold for looking through social media, and still there is a void of time that is left unfilled.
Louis and I both have non-conventional and often conflicting schedules, a very limited budget, and a minimal community of friends in Indy. Throughout our nine months of marriage, we have found these three factors to be pretty restrictive at times. In some ways it has been an obvious blessing to our marriage and in other ways it has been difficult and discouraging. Especially compared to college life, this season of life has brought about many moments of boredom.
Maybe it is a western culture thing, but I think most of us go through great lengths to avoid being bored. We spend money on movies, dinner, bowling, traveling, concerts, shopping, and buying new gadgets. We entertain ourselves with accessible technology, including our computers, TVs, and video games; if we are on the go, it has become a reflex to grab our smartphone and scroll through Instragram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, ESPN, etc. We plan and attend social events to surround ourselves with people, conversation, and activity. Sometimes we even busy ourselves with finding something to clean or organize around the house or in our car (Is that just me?).
Each one of these can be a good thing, like going to see one of your favorite bands in concert or meeting up with friends for dinner. I would say that anyone who lives a balanced life probably incorporates some of these into their schedule on a regular basis. But, lately I have been convicted of having a desire to schedule things just to be busy and avoid boredom, to look for a distraction.
Why am I so persistent to fight against boredom? Why am I looking for a distraction?
This week boredom hit me especially hard. So, I decided to think about what the real-life, non-fluff answers to those questions were. The verdict?
When I am bored and my mind is not distracted, my heart becomes more transparent. I start to see the things I am (consciously and unconsciously) trying to cover up and shove down deep so I don’t have to deal with them.
I see that my heart is messy and ugly.
I see the depth of my loneliness and my discontentment.
I see the insecurities and the doubts that I am carrying.
I see my lack of trust in the Lord.
I see how much bitterness I am actually holding onto.
I see how little of undistracted time that I spend in the Word or in prayer.
I see my skewed motives and the idols I have erected.
I see how I so easily abandon an eternal perspective to conform to the pattern of this world.
But this isn’t just in this particular season of life, for this has been an accurate picture of my heart time and again. My heart is fickle and prone to wander and that is why I can find myself here so often. Sometimes there are tears. Sometimes just resigned silence. Sometimes there is self-pity and wallowing. But over time I have learned there is one way, that works for me, to fight these lies that so easily consume me.
I must move myself to think upon the character of God and the depth of His love for me.
This is not a passive remembering. This is an active and intentional decision to, one-by-one, take the lies that I see in my heart and speak specific Truth to each one. When I have been struggling to trust the Lord (maybe through a transition or uncertainty) I fight by writing down the things I have seen in my life and in Scripture that show me the Lord is trustworthy. When I am feeling lonely, I jot down some of the wonderful relationships I do have rather than dwelling on those I wish I did. When I start to buy into what the world says is important, I make a list of what the Lord says is of eternal value.
While this does not magically make everything better, but it does encourage me to press on even though situations and seasons that are not ideal. God cares for me more than the birds of the air or the flowers of the field. He is fully aware of my messiness, my emotions, and my needs. In Christ, I am known and I am loved.
The thing about distractions is that while they may be entertaining and effective for a while, they truly are temporary. Eventually there will be a moment when no distraction is available and you are in a moment of boredom, and that is when the things deep in your heart will start to bubble to the surface.
And when it does, let it.