In Defense of Boredom

Chad CookUncategorized

Don’t you love the summer!! School is out, the sun is shining brightly and the days are filled with relaxing by the pool, sweet tea and jamming out to your favorite tunes. Yet especially during summer, I also hear that moaning….whining complaint like a mosquito constantly living in my ear…. “I’m borrrred.”

Bored.

My daughters and students believe it’s an evil word!  They act as if it’s one of the worst fates they would ever have to endure, even worse than starvation and Armageddon. To be bored can be equated to being less than human and it seems that we have a natural tendency to fight it every moment we get.

In my summers past I remember those days all too well accept I didn’t have the luxury of staying inside or connecting to a media device. No, we were always pushed outside and were told to go play. Because of this I can remember going out into the woods and clearing an area to build forts and play war against our imaginary enemies, being in the championship game with only 3 seconds left and making a ridiculous shot over the house, creating massive battle grounds for my G.I. Joes amongst the flowers and bushes in our front yard, building ramps and jumps that would propel us into the heavens on our bikes and boards and building hideouts throughout the house with whatever we could lay our hands on.

We learned to get past the boredom to create some great memories. We need to recognize that boredom isn’t necessarily a negative. You see boredom is the mother of imagination. It’s not until our minds stop long enough from our crazy hectic schedules that our creativity and imagination begin engage our minds. From the memories of my own childhood I realize that carefully-planned activities pale in comparison to more spontaneous experiences. Little compares when creativity and imagination engage our minds and lives.

Why does imagination and creativity matter? Jesus calls us to a different Life. He calls us to live life to the fullest (John 10:10.) Paul reminds us in His letter to the Ephesians that as we live out this Life the power of God that is working within us to do more than we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:16-21.) And we do all this for the cause of Christ and to share His Gospel to the world.

Andy Stanley has said that he has learned over the years that the people who will figure out how to reach the next generation will come from that generation. Meaning that God gives creativity and imagination and visions to each generation to reach their generation. If this is true and I believe it to be so what happens if we stop dreaming, creating, imagining and listening to God?

Do you remember 1 Kings 19:11-13? Elijah has an encounter with God on the mountain as God passed by. God wasn’t in the great wind, the mighty earthquake or the raging fire! But God was only found in the sound of a gentle whisper.

How often do we allow ourselves to get caught up in the noise of life and games all because we get uncomfortable or don’t enjoy being bored and we miss the voice of God telling us how we can reach our generation, family, neighbors and community.

Cutting out boredom has the potential to disconnect us from God’s voice, creativity and dreams. The possibility that we miss out on the Life that He’s calling us to live and thus miss reaching our generation with the Gospel of Christ.

I know times have changed from when I was younger. So what to do with this today?
First realize Boredom is not a bad word or bad thing. It’s true that too much boredom can lead to mischief so we must be cautious with that but constructive boredom always creates incredible memories and enhances life.

Next realize this doesn’t just affect children and teens. Adults are just as guilt if not more so. The moment we have a free thought is the moment we dive into work, our mobile devices, games or the television. Now don’t get me wrong. These things are not bad in themselves but we need to make sure there is purpose behind the activity and that its not motivated by boredom alone.

Third advice is to go outside and move. Research has shown the numerous positives in getting outside more often and moving around. It engages our minds in ways other activities don’t and continues to foster creativity.

Last and possibly the most difficult is a challenge to limit your mobile devices. This is a huge one for me because I think that phones, tablets, ipods are the number one threat to imagination.   Why you may ask? Because they are so easily accessible. What happens the moment people get bored in conversation? They pull out their cell phones and start to look at Facebook or check on their game or check their email. Your brain never has a chance to relax or slow down. Tech isn’t the enemy, but it can certainly be a barrier so Challenge yourself to mobile free days or half days and see how freeing it can really be and the explosion of imagination and dreams.

I’ll be praying for many opportunities this week for you to get bored.