I have a young friend who occasionally reaches out to me with the ubiquitous text, “WYD”? It always seems innocent enough, he’s just checking in with me. That’s what I’m thinking. Not so. Almost invariably, when I tell him what I’m doing and ask what he’s doing, his answer is “Nothing, I’m bored.”
This may sound strange or funny, but I’m not sure I know what that is. I don’t believe I’ve ever been bored in my life. That’s not a boast, I just mean I have always had stuff to do, or things I wanted to do, or people I wanted to interact with. I’ve just never been in a place where I really had nothing I was doing, and nothing I wanted to do. I like to read, I’ll even read the back of a cereal box for lack of something else to read. I like to draw on rare occasions. I really like a good conversation. And sometimes, I enjoy just sitting and thinking and being still. But never bored.
I know I would never have told my mother I was bored when growing up. She would have found plenty for me to do! There just was no such thing as real boredom in my growing-up years.
When really contemplating this idea of a person being bored, I’ve begun to think about those things which a person can engage in to fight such a feeling. There are always organizations needing people’s power to achieve their goals. Especially those organizations which reach out to the underserved in our communities. The route I take walking always has stray pieces of refuse that can be retrieved and deposited appropriately. There are children in need of adult interaction, mentoring, tutoring help, and just a good old-fashioned listening ear. Speaking of listening ears, I’m quite sure there are persons in senior living situations who would love to have a conversation companion.
I really could go on and on with any number of activities where one doesn’t have to feel bored, things which are needed by others. Hmmmm, that might be the key. Maybe when we don’t feel as if we have anything of value to contribute, that could lead us to feel bored. Here’s the thing, I believe every person matters, every person has something of value they can contribute. The real issue may be, are we led to contribute things of value?
Thinking about not expressing my boredom to my mother, for fear of her finding plenty for me to do, led me to think about God. What does God have for us to do? What is pleasing and of value to God?
In the Gospel of John, 8:29 we hear Jesus say, “And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” Interesting way Jesus puts it, he is never alone because God is always with him. So if we always have a companion, can we be bored? And for Jesus to go further and say he always does things that are pleasing to God. Having God as your companion, and doing what is pleasing to God, what more could we ask for?
In Hebrews 13:16 we read, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Doing good and sharing what we have are activities that are not only pleasing to God, but also serve to fight any boredom we might be feeling.
We may not always know what to do, but we can be assured that doing something for others is a surefire way to kill any boredom we feel and to please God. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
As we while away some time this Summer, we might do well to consider doing what we do in an effort to please God. God isn’t all about work, work, work either. God wants and will for each of us to have the time to recuperate, to refresh, to recreate. But even in those activities, we can please God. In 1 Corinthians 10:31, we read, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Everything we do can be done to the glory of God, even sitting on the beach with a refreshing beverage! When we do it with our minds, thoughts, and spirit focused on doing what is pleasing to God. God blesses our “on” time and our “off” time. I’m not so sure God is pleased when we allow boredom to dominate our lives.
May the God who loves us, who watches over us, who is pleased beyond measure with us, lead us to springs of refreshment this Summer. May God always well up in us new and truly creative ways for us to engage our bodies, minds, and spirits. And may what we do be always pleasing to God.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,