Boredom seems so innocuous on the face of it. Certainly we have all experienced it. How often have I heard someone say in a pathetic voice, “I’m bored”? It often goes along with phrases like “I’ve got nothing to do” or “nothing interests me”. I think the word boredom is so much a part of life we often fail to recognize what the meaning of the word is. If we look at some of the meanings, we might take the complaint more seriously in others or ourselves.
I find words fascinating. Looking up other words for boredom recently gave me a new perspective on the word and its risks. What are some of those synonyms that mean the same as boredom? Here are some of the words on the list: weariness, unconcern, frustration, lethargy, dullness, dissatisfaction, restlessness, and apathy.
These other words are examples of the soil the enemy loves to play in within our hearts and minds. It often happens when we are disengaged from something we enjoy doing or must do. It can also happen when we are disengaged from someone or Someone. If it is the latter we can easily become self-absorbed or self-focused. Those can tempt us to compare ourselves with others, pity ourselves, or envy others.
Yes, we are called to times of solitude and quietness, but they are actually active times for us as we spiritually become available to the One who often needs to wait in line for our attention.
Soren Kierkegaard said, “Boredom is the root of all evil” because we are refusing to be who God made us to be. That thought truly got my mind going. As I thought about it, it made more sense to me. When we talk about someone called by God, our minds can easily turn to the disciples as ones who sought to follow in the Lord’s footsteps. As you start to go through some of the names on the list can you imagine John, James, Peter, Matthew, or the others on the list being plagued with boredom? Paul? Bored? Really?? I don’t think so.
I believe we too easily lose sight of our original design, which was connection with the Lord and the creation we were placed in as stewards of that creation. Sounds obvious, right? If so, then take it one step farther in your consideration. If we are connected with the Lord, could we possibly be bored given His greatness and creativity? If we are connected to who He is through His creation, could we be bored as we notice and truly look at the sky, the trees, even the rocks along the path or roadside? I think not.
Perhaps it is the enemy himself who nudges us into being bored. If our minds, hearts, and spirits are dulled it seems there are several things that are likely to occur:
- We won’t recognize the enemy’s activities
- We won’t recognize what the Lord is doing in the world
- We will eventually choose to do something to alleviate the boredom that will often be impulsive and not be best for us
More importantly over and over again scripture urges us to be and stay alert. If the Lord has repeatedly reminded us of that, it is a clear indication we are not to be asleep at our posts, bored and dull.
What are some examples in scripture?
1 Peter 5:8: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. ESV
Mark 14:38: Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. ESV
Matthew 24:42: Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. ESV
Those are only three examples, but there are many more.
For those of us living in a place on the earth that is at peace, it can be easy to be lulled into unawareness about the whole big picture of God’s activity and timeline that is unfolding little by little each day. As I use a wide-angle lens to view beyond my little corner of the neighborhood, county, state, and nation, I become aware much is afoot. Much of it is serious beyond what I hear on most major news networks.
Am I taking in all I can of Him? Am I reading only Psalms and Proverbs or am I seeking the whole council of His Word? Am I growing dull, lethargic, restless, and apathetic or am I on my post, on alert?
Often fear can be the opposite of boredom. Fear rises up in us when we are called out of our comfort zone, but as His disciples are we really called to reside in comfort zones?
As God’s children we are called to make a choice of whether we face our fear and storm the gates of hell as the church is called to do, or seek shelter and a place to sleep.
Are we on watch?
Are we alert?
Are we expecting Him?
If we are doing these things, boredom will definitely not describe our situation and we will not be in its risky place.