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Making Boredom Work for You

May 27, 2017 • Life for Leaders

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:10

 

A person scrolling on their mobile phone due to lack of activity.First, put down the phone.

I’m just as guilty as the next person. When I find myself waiting in line at the grocery store, or sitting in a boring meeting at work, the first thing my mind thinks to do is to reach for my phone. I scroll through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and then I hit the latest news stories. Then, if the line hasn’t moved and the speaker is still droning on and on, I scroll through all of it again, adding “Likes” with the tap of my thumb.

But, what if there’s a better option? There has to be a better option, right? What if, instead of mindlessly scrolling through our phones, we made our boredom work for us, rather than trying to escape it?

According to two recent studies, mentioned in a recent article at Wired.com, the fact that so many of us reach for our phones when we feel the slightest bit bored might actually indicate that our minds are searching for something. This is something I want to remember. Because, if my mind is in a state where it’s actively seeking something, I want to take that opportunity to feed it something with some nutritional value, rather than loading up again on carb-heavy doses of social media. You too?

As the article in Wired reminds us, children who often complain of being bored, when left alone long enough, invent creative and entertaining games to play, simply by engaging their imaginations. As adults, we can follow the lead of the children in our lives by embracing boredom when it comes our way.

Boredom might spark creativity because a restless mind hungers for stimulation. Maybe traversing an expanse of tedium creates a sort of cognitive forward motion. —Clive Thompson

I think God knew this about us. God already knew our bored minds would be fertile ground for realizing concepts we might ignore in other moments. “Be still,” God tells us in the Psalms, “and know that I am God.” When I’m rushing through my day, from one thing to the next, I might think to myself, “Well, of course God is God.” But, when waiting in the carpool line for the 276th time this year, I meditate on the true meaning of that passage of scripture, my mind is primed to see something new in the familiar words.

I know it seems like sacrilege these days, but might you consider leaving your phone at home, or in the car, the next time you know you’ll be standing in line somewhere? Seize that moment of potential boredom as an opportunity to experience God more fully by letting your seeking mind lead you forward.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

What’s your usual response to boredom? Why?

PRAYER:

Lord, there are a lot of ways to keep my mind “busy” but I have to be intentional about being still so that I can find you. Instead of running from boredom, help me to embrace it this week. Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentaryGod’s presence in the midst of disaster (Psalm 46)

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Psalms

One thought on “Making Boredom Work for You

  1. Thank you for this reminder and challenge, Deidra. I think many of us have wasted opportunities of intimacy with God each day, due to allowing reaching for the phone or tablet to become a habit. May God grant us grace and strength to replace poor habits with healthy, God-honoring ones.

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