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Published on March 11th, 2008 | by Alex and Brett Harris

The Joy of Boredom




The Joy of Boredom

Driving home after running some errands for my family, I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR) when Carolyn Johnson, a writer with the Boston Globe, was interviewed about an article she had written entitled “The Joy of Boredom.”

I listened to the interview with great interest and was excited to hear her take the simple, counterintuitive, and rebelutionary position that boredom is, in fact, a good thing. We read the article as a family this evening, and I want to share it with you.

The joy of boredom

Don’t check that e-mail. Don’t answer that phone. Just sit there. You might be surprised by what happens.

by CAROLYN Y. JOHNSON

A DECADE AGO, those monotonous minutes were just a fact of life: time ticking away, as you gazed idly into space, stood in line, or sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

[Today,] these empty moments are being saturated with productivity, communication, and the digital distractions offered by an ever-expanding array of slick mobile devices. A few years ago, cellphone maker Motorola even began using the word “microboredom” to describe the ever-smaller slices of free time from which new mobile technology offers an escape.

But are we too busy twirling through the songs on our iPods — while checking e-mail, while changing lanes on the highway — to consider whether we are giving up a good thing? We are most human when we feel dull. Lolling around in a state of restlessness is one of life’s greatest luxuries — one not available to creatures that spend all their time pursuing mere survival.

To be bored is to stop reacting to the external world, and to explore the internal one. It is in these times of reflection that people often discover something new, whether it is an epiphany about a relationship or a new theory about the way the universe works.

Public health officials often bemoan the obesity epidemic, the unintended consequence of a modern lifestyle that allows easy access to calories. Technology seems to offer a similar proposition: a wide array of distractions that offer the boon of connection, but at a cost.

Paradoxically, as cures for boredom have proliferated, people do not seem to feel less bored; they simply flee it with more energy, flitting from one activity to the next. Ralley has noticed a kind of placid look among his students over the past few years, a “laptop culture” that he finds perplexing. They have more channels to be social; there are always things to do. And yet people seem oddly numb. They are not quite bored, but not really interested either.

Read the whole thing…

Carolyn Johnson’s article reminds me of several posts Brett and I wrote in 2006 — one called “Bored? Read This!” and the other Multitasking: Mental Obesity.

In that first post, I wrote:

So what is boredom? Our father has always taught us that boredom is the mind’s equivalent to hunger. Just like hunger signals your body’s desire for food, so boredom signals your mind’s desire for mental stimulation. To put it simply, when you’re bored, your mind is hungry and it wants to eat.

When a person gets hungry enough, they’ll eat almost anything. It’s the same with boredom. If you get bored enough, you’ll start reading through the dictionary. I know, because I’ve done it before… And actually, I learned a lot of neat words.

Being bored, like being hungry, is not a bad thing. What is bad is when we satisfy that hunger with worthless clutter. Just like you can appease physical hunger by eating physical junk food, you can appease mental hunger by filling your mind with mental junk food. We eliminate the feelings of hunger, without delivering the nutrition our body needs. We eliminate our feelings of boredom, without allowing it to accomplish its intended purpose, which is to drive us to seek knowledge and gain character through study, thought, and hard work.

Read the whole thing…

And in that second post, Brett wrote:

The following words, spoken by Francis Schaeffer decades ago, are increasingly relevant to our generation: “No one seems to want (and no one can find) a place for quiet, because when you are quiet, you have to face reality. But many in the present generation dare not do this because on their own basis reality leads them to meaninglessness; so they fill their lives with entertainment, even if it is only noise.”

Such escapism makes sense for non-Christians, yet most Christians act the same way — escaping from meaningful thought through the distraction of technology. I can remember many times when I’ve felt particularly thoughtful, but then the computer would beckon me. Ten minutes later I would have read a few emails, checked the comment section of our blog, browsed Google News and in the end, entirely lost my train of thought.

When was the last time any of us took just twenty minutes to think about deep, substantial things, like our future or our relationship with God? Did you know that we probably couldn’t? Through media our minds have been conditioned (or perhaps de-conditioned) to avoid deep or prolonged thought. We must constantly be moving and doing, but never thinking and planning. Every empty space must be filled with music or movies or Internet or texting or IMing. Every empty space must be filled, except the one between our ears.

Read the whole thing…

Make time to read the Boston Globe article and Brett’s and my posts from the blog archives, then come back here and discuss.

You can use the following questions as a place to start:

  • When was the last time you were really, truly bored? What happened?
  • What “mental snacks” do you use to avoid boredom? Do they really work?
  • What lifestyle changes can you make to harness the power of boredom?
  • Where is the balance between using technology and being controlled by it?











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About the Author

are the co-founders of TheRebelution.com and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.



  • Nicole

    I don’t have a cell phone (that’s connected), I don’t have an ipod, I don’t have a facebook, myspace or blog, and my computer is too slow to watch videos on. I guess it makes sense that I appear to be the first person to comment. Am I that bored? Oh well.

    This is really weird because today my mom and I went to the mall downtown and walked around after meeting someone to eat and my mom started noticing that nearly every guy in the mall had one of those earbuds in his ear, either for his cell phone or an ipod. And those who didn’t, seriously, were either talking on their cell phone or holding it in their hand. We had just watched the “Back to the Future” movie — the second one — so we were like feeling as if we had stepped into a mall 30 years into the future (we’re nerds, I know).
    And it’s not just at the mall, when I eat out at a restaurant, I see parents who’ve brought a little DVD player for their kids to watch. When I’m in the car, I see in the next car a kid watching a movie on a screen set into the back of the front seat. When I’m in the grocery store, I’m annoyed by plasma screens in the produce section and in the check-out lines.
    Oh yeah, and when I go to pick up pizza, there’s a movie playing there while I wait!

    Is America too spoiled to spend 5 minutes waiting — not suffering, not sick, not in danger; but simply and only waiting? Are we so empty that we cannot stand silence or a moment alone in thought? Wow.

    An interesting thought, though, that struck me as I was reading these articles, was how this relates to Christians. How many of us constantly fill our walk with God with people-things or “entertainment” — church programs, church services, group Bible studies, group prayer, theology discussions or classes, etc. — that, while not always bad, can, if we are not careful, fill us up with a form of fellowship that is not of the deep, needed, God-pleasing kind that really causes us to grow spiritually or to actually know God as we would a personal, close friend? We may sit through a prayer meeting and get our fill (as far as what we perceive on the surface) and walk away “feeling” like we’ve done something for God, but never spend the ten minutes alone with God, talking to Him and getting to know Him and sharing ourselves with Him and allowing Him to share Himself with us through His Word, that would delight Him in a different, personal, perhaps deeper way.

    I read a story recently about a man who was being chased by people who hated him and wanted to harm him because he was a Christian. He ran, climbed a tree, and hid there for a really long time. He said later that he was not alone and that it was as if God were holding him in His Arms and speaking to him as he sat in that tree. He then asked the question, “Do you have a friend who would be there for you when you are hiding in a tree, pursued by savages?” (not verbatim)
    How many of us can say that we would know God in a way personal enough that we would not feel alone in that situation — that we would know Him as a best Friend right beside us, comforting us, speaking to us?
    I pray many of us can indeed say that, but I fear that perhaps, in truth, we would not know Him so well that we would know that He was all we needed in a time like that.

    I once asked a friend who regularly attended church if he would like to study the Bible with me. Once he got over thinking I was asking him to date me (I never understood, but he spent several minutes after I asked trying to convince me that girls like him way too often for his looks, etc. and trying to explain something to me about us not dating — I guess I didn’t know the “Baptist” way of asking someone on a date and in my ignorance I was quite forward!) he told me that he was too busy with “Bible studies” to study the Bible outside of church. I couldn’t find a good church in my area, so I was kind of hurt — okay, really hurt (I was only 16). But then God showed me, through my hurt feelings, that that is how He feels when we get so busy with church and “fellowship” and people and meetings that we don’t spend time personally studying the Bible, sitting at His Feet and learning directly from Him, or simply talking to Him about what we have learned or experienced lately and allowing Him to personally and directly answer or soothe our questions and problems, fears and anxieties, hurts and feelings of failure, or even to simply invite Him to share in our triumph and joy.

    To answer the questions of this post:

    1) The last time I was really, really, truly, truly, entirely bored was today when I was eating out with someone and they were talking about pouring concrete and how concrete is strengthened and how the mold is then pulled away once the concrete is dried. =)

    2) The “mental snacks” I use to avoid boredom are often reading boring things, practicing sign-language, thinking about books I am writing or want to write, trying to figure people out, noticing people’s shoes, or watching little kids nearby who seem to find incredible interest in everything from balloons to ceiling tiles. Oh yeah, and coloring with crayons (I love tracing my hands and leaving an imprint of a hand with six or more fingers that makes people look twice and look afraid).

    3) I hope to one day harness the power of boredom and create . . . I’m not sure yet. I need to be more patient, though, and to seek God’s Will when I am bored so that I use the time in the best way for His Glory (instead of using it to study people’s choices in footwear, for example).

    4) I believe that to find the “balance” in using any advantage — such as technology, money, or other privileges — it is necessary to first find God in such a way that we are open to His leading, ready to obey and trust, and know clearly His Voice so that we are not led by another. For some of great wealth, for example, the best thing for God’s Kingdom — God’s Perfect Will for them to do — is for them to spend it to make movies that teach children godly character and principles; for others, the best thing for God’s Kingdom is for them to give all the money away to foreign missions or to help those who kindly care for orphans.
    I believe that the correct balance of using any privileges we are given for the glory of God, rather than being controlled by them, is found only when when find, rely on, and obey God, fully. Otherwise, we are too weak and all, in the end, very easily controlled (especially when we’ve become convinced by the great advantages available that we are the ones in control).

    By the way, I can totally relate to flipping through the dictionary (or thesaurus) and learning new words — or unknown definitions of known words. I’ve done that more than once, strangely enough. (Hey, I don’t have an ipod or cell phone! What was I to do?)

    Very interesting read and perfect for today, on my part. ¡Gracias!

  • Anika Q

    Um…the last time I was “really, truly bored”? Well, I think that was 5 years ago, just before I started high-school…

    I think boredom for me is often more of an excuse than not. I can often say “I’m bored, what can I do?” when I really mean, “Please offer me with an excuse not to finish my essay on the Egyptian pharaoh.” But then again, isn’t that the same thing? I’m too (insert appropriate adjective here) to use my brain to think through what my teacher meant by those nasty comments on my draft…so I just won’t bother. Oh, how bored I am…oh look! X, Y and Z are online. So, yet again, boredom is just another way of avoiding what needs to be done- whether it be a little analysis of one’s spiritual life, or an analysis of Akenhaten’s reign. [By the way, I’m not blaming any of those whom I may have IM’d in order to avoid school-work…it’s totally and completely my fault. ;)]

    But in the rare occasion when I have the luxury of being truly bored, (that is, with nothing else hanging over my head) I do often waste my time with the internet. And it doesn’t make me feel any better, really. :)

    In the holidays, I did get into the habit of when I wasn’t going somewhere, of doing a little extra Bible study and memorisation, or to read just a little bit extra than I usually do. That, I think, is a good idea.

    I think the difference between using technology and being controlled by it is when you are not using it to avoid some other aspect of your life that needs urgent attention: and in fact are *primarily* using it as a matter of “business” rather than a matter of mere entertainment. (Though the latter is not *always* bad. :D)

  • I do agree! I like the way you guys kind of have an archive going here! 😀 So what happened with the blog? It’s like it lost some posts.

  • Also, how do we know who is writing these posts?!

  • Wow… the difference between using technology and being controlled by it? That really hit home for me. I’ve allowed myself to become controlled by technology. Of course, I’ve had the perfect excuse: “I’m homeschooled, go to a teeny tiny church, and I have NO FRIENDS except for online! So it’s okay that I’m on the computer a lot. It’s okay that I absolutely have to check my emails every day. I mean, seriously! God couldn’t have intended for me to live a lonely life? Could He?” — But now I see that this is the wrong way to think. Yes, we need fellowship, but I don’t have to be controlled by the internet. No one is going to die if I don’t respond to their email within 24 hours. I need to just cool it for awhile. So, thanks for the reminder! I may have to go on an internet fast for a bit. It’ll be tough, but I just realized what I should have realized months ago: My priorities have gotten out of place. I need to put God back on the throne. Thanks for the post, Alex!

  • Josiah: I think we just removed the post about the Portland Conference because the deadline had already passed. Also, in this post you can tell Alex wrote it because he says “Brett and I” a few times. =)

    Emily: It’s so exciting to see God working your heart! I would encourage you to take some decisive action based on what He’s showing you. Sometimes it’s too easy to feel conviction but then not do anything about it (I’m speaking to myself as well here!). Rearrange some “furniture” in your life to make it easier for you to do what’s right and harder to slip back into your old habits. Let us know how it goes! =)

  • Ben

    Boredom = ‘Mind’s equivalent to hunger’

    Well put. I often try to clutter my life with ‘stuff’ and activities to keep from being bored. Funny how it’s hard to find time for God, but it isn’t hard to check email or Facebook 5 or 6 times a day. And isn’t it weird that so many of us are running constantly doing thousands of things, and yet we’re still bored? Are we, perhaps, not addressing a serious hunger coming from our mind and heart? We eventually have to face our fear of ‘boredom’ and turn off the T.V.’s, computers, and ipods and recognize the direction, focus, and love that can only come when we are listening to God.

    Thanks for focusing again on this important issue, guys. I did a cartoon on the subject several months ago that you may enjoy: http://www.benlansing.com/29#cartoon

  • Becca

    1) The last time I was bored was in the living room while my family was talking about some thing I did not find ‘interesting’ what happened? I fell asleep!!!

    2) Hmm… I don’t think I use any, I really don’t get bored real often and in my family if you say your bored Mom will find something (like more chores) for you to do.

    3) I think taking our lifestyle back to the ‘pioneer days’. If I do not have something to do it means I need to go clean out the chicken shed, or the bathroom ect… there’s always something to do, called work. The people in the pioneer days felt that work was life, which includes fun and they never lacked for something to do.

    4) Technology is like a ‘tool’, I use it only to communicate with people far away, and to look up information.(I do not have an ipod, or cell phone, or TV, the only ‘technology’ I have is my family’s Laptop.) It so easy for it to become an addiction in our entertainment saturated culture but I have great parents; so if they think I’m spending to much time with technology or using it for more then a ‘tool’. They take it away, which is helping so much to cerate healthy habits.

    Alex and Brett I want to thank you for your wonderful ministry. Your message is a great reminder to me to go above the expectations around me.

  • Marissa

    I actually love being bored, unless I have something on my conscience. One of my favorite things to do is actually mow the lawn, when the weather’s nice…it’s loud enough to drown out all noise, but the solitude it creates allows me to think, figure things out, and talk to God…all while getting exercise and making the lawn look better!

    My family has never allowed personal music players (walkmans, ipods, etc.), though it was not until recently that I finally understood why. I have a cell phone, but I use it for an alarm clock more often than actually calling someone! (and I don’t text, because then I have to pay for it ;)). I do have a laptop though, and that is easily my biggest “time-sucker”. One thing I began a few months ago was a technology Sabbath…on Sundays, I don’t use my laptop/the internet. After living on it for six days, any time I just sit down, it feels like I need to be doing something. I finally realized that that feeling is not constantly doing something on my computer. I have also been known, when the stack of schoolwork is high, and the power light on my laptop never seems to turn off, to turn it off for a week…or two…or three. Amazingly enough, the earth did not stop because I didn’t reply to a Facebook message, or forum post, or email the second it was sent! I checked my email about once a day on another computer without my internet bookmarks, etc. so that it wasn’t a distraction (there were some emails that I actually did have to keep up with). And, looking at that pile of homework, I’m afraid it’s time for another computer break…

    Goodbye, computer…see you later :)

    (And thanks for the reminder!)

  • Hannah Williams

    I like taking a shower when I’m bored. Well used to anyways. Our new shower head is quite scary now.

  • Nathan V

    After I read this post I immediately thought of this quote from Michael D. O’Brien’s great novel, Plague Journal.

    “I thought about that. And it struck me how different my generation was from hers. She told me once that people have changed a lot since she was a young woman. It’s true. We are different. We rush through our lives trying to get it all in, trying to get too many things done too fast. And as a result we make hasty decisions. We don’t appreciate things all that much. We’re seldom grateful. We work and play and consume on the run. We “improve” our minds on the run. We advance our careers on the run. We talk and cook and eat on the run. We settle for junk food, mass-produced filler that looks and smells and even tastes like food. We rarely choose to make a thing with passionate love for its being. We have developed the habit of doing many things poorly rather than a few things well. Is it really possible to think clearly in such a state?”

    Wow, this is so true, and epitomizes our generation, especially the fact that we rarely choose to make something with a passionate love for its being and our habit of doing so many things so poorly. Thanks for the wakeup call to simplify and even be bored for a while!

  • Drew

    A friend and I were just talking about something like this a couple weeks ago…I’m going to bring this up with some people, good stuff. Thanks for the thought provoking posts!

  • Jon Kayser

    I just wanted to let you guys know how much I appreciated that post. You articulated what I’ve been thinking for so long SO WELL! Please know that you are continually in my prayers…
    ~Jon’

  • I am a person who usually absorbs the time which most call boredom. I appreciate the silence, and try to absorb it. I recently moved into an apartment with a good friend who really enjoys watching television, so I too have picked up the habit. I don’t enjoy it as much as some do though; I really feel a sense of conviction when I sit down and find myself waisting my time. If I have time to waste, I would much rather be reading, praying, or thinking about stuff. It is so important for us not to forget that we too need to think, not only our laptops, or our iPods.

    Just some thoughts… Great post!

  • Grace

    I have access to a fair bit of technology and use it frequently. Perhaps I am addicted to it. Perhaps I am only using it for escapism. I think it may be time for an excess technology fast. Thanks for the post, I really needed a wake up call. Being as I am one of the laptop students who is neither bored nor interested.
    You can use the following questions as a place to start:

    * When was the last time you were really, truly bored? What happened?
    About a year ago. I had graduated from high school and had no clear direction to go. After months of nothing but housecleaning (the only thing I could think of doing), I got bored enough that I was finally willing to follow God even when He was leading in a direction I didn’t want to go, (fashion retail in collage). From there He led me to study Graphic Design.

    * What “mental snacks” do you use to avoid boredom? Do they really work?
    My iPod mostly, I have a book on there I really enjoy as well as a lot of worship song I love. No, I’m just bored while I listen. It doesn’t really engage the mind just makes some white noise.

    * What lifestyle changes can you make to harness the power of boredom?
    Well, I guess the biggest change would be to stop avoiding it like the plague. It would be a good thing. Help me to make interest in the boring tasks of housecleaning(I know it did before).

    * Where is the balance between using technology and being controlled by it?
    For the iPod there was a clear difference. Initially it was something I used on the metro when people nearby were having vulgar conversations that I didn’t want stuck in my head. Lately it has been something I uses to drown out my environment and forget(aside from bumps) that I’m on the metro at all. Which is bad because it means that I cannot seize the hour for my quiet times anymore.

  • Lydia D.

    When was the last time you were really, truly bored? What happened?

    The last I was truly bored was last summer when I had to take a 6 hour drive with my mom, who does not like to talk while she is driving. I ended up reading a book.

    What “mental snacks” do you use to avoid boredom? Do they really work?

    Usually I read something. (By the way try reading an encyclopedia. I think their more interesting 😉 ) Lately though I have decided to stop reading so many books, but then I find myself being drawn to the computer. Thankfully, I don’t have an iPod to be distracted by, or else I’m sure I would be.

    What lifestyle changes can you make to harness the power of boredom?

    I have to agree with Grace who said “to stop avoiding it like the plague”. Which is what I often do. I need to embrace those “boring” moments and use them to talk to God or maybe instead of reading fiction, read God’s Word.

    Where is the balance between using technology and being controlled by it?

    Finding the balance is really hard to do. There are times when I’ll find myself thinking “NOW is when I really need a cellphone” or something along those lines. But if I were to stop and think then I would realize that most of the time I honestly don’t. I believe that we really don’t need technology as much as we think. Though it can come in handy when you need to talk to someone one hundred miles away. Something I’ve been wanting to try, is to go for one week without watching tv, listening to music, or spending more than 15 minutes on my computer or the phone. So after reading this blog I’m convinced that this is something I should try to do.

    Thank you Alex and Brett for another great post! :)

  • i guess when i am bored I use the computer but I only have 30 min. on the computer so i don’t have a lot of time to be bored

    Great post

  • Erica

    This is definately something that I struggle with every day. (As I sit here listening to my iPod, writing a letter to a friend, checking my emials, and commenting here all at the same time.) My mind is constantly busy – wondering if I’ve gotten any letters in the mail, comments on my blog, or emials in my inbox (that I checked 15 minutes ago…), to the point that any more, I have a difficult time even focusing on my schoolwork, much less have a ‘bored’ moment.

    I’ve never commented on here before… I’ve never felt very confindent in writing anything… but I wanted ya’ll to know that this post has really challenged me to focus on the big picture – the important things in life. I do think that too much bordem can drive a person crazy – but a little boredem is necessary. Thanks for the post!!

  • Lauren B.

    1. I haven’t been bored for at least a year. I discovered that I really liked just sitting and thinking, and not about anything in particular. Sometimes I’ve had brilliant thoughts, sometimes I just wander through my day. I really like bored moments, they are too few and far between.
    2. I read. I’m not bored, then I have to do school or a chore.
    3. I can take more time to just do nothing.
    4. I’ve struggled with technology before, and it helped when last year I gave up something for lent: All electronic games. I only used the computer for school and keeping up with friends, but no solitaire while waiting for a page to download, nothing. It was hard, and I didn’t realize how much it had become a part of my life. I know that technology is too much in my life when I think about it constantly, when it keeps popping up in my thoughts.

  • bookwormmarie

    Wow! That is so true! I have not had nearly as many boring moments in my life since I got my cell phone and an email account. I don’t own a ipod yet or anything but I do listen to cds or the radio everytime it gets too quiet for my taste. I also do see other people I know doing this too. I will have to really work on this! I really like the moments when I can just sit outside and look at my dad’s farm and just sit think about nothing sometimes too. It is relaxing and I don’t do it nearly enough.
    Thanks for a great post!

  • This post has really made me think! I have always considered boredom a bad thing because I respond to it by being un-productive– sitting there picking at my nails or daydreaming. Instead, I need to see boredom as a time that God has given me to pursue him further.

    Thanks for the post!

    Ali

  • Mark

    I don’t have an ipod, or an e-mail, or a cell phone, but I still don’t find a whole lot of time to be bored. It seems something is almost always occupying my time. I really like music so I spend a lot of time playing the keyboard and my drums, besides all my school. Next time I find myself at loss for something to do I’m going to spend that time deepening my relationship with Christ, and with His help I’ll keep on doing that.

    Thanks for the great post guys!

  • Jess

    Last time I was bored was 40 minutes ago when I was doing history.
    Usually I’m bored while I’m milking, but I like that because I use the time to either pray or make up stories in my head or some other thing that I don’t usually do. It’s true- boredom can be useful, but I have to admit that I would prefer it if it wasn’t too much of a regular occurance!

  • Hannah Williams

    Jess: how can you be bored during history. That is a big part of our lives.
    If we did not have history how would we learn. God has truly blessed us with history.
    I have lots of friends that dislike history. What exactly makes it boring?
    Your Sister In Christ, Hannah

  • Hannah Williams

    oops did it again. geuss I need to go back to “Josiah Academy”

  • Handmaidens

    It seems that the main reason people run from boredom is that they do not like to think. Thinking takes effort. Being entertained does not. That is why reading Little Women is better than watching it. We all need times of quiet. I am so thankful my mother has made times alone and quiet mandatory when we were little. Now we all crave little bits of time to be quiet or what every one else calls bored. This reminds me of Mary and Martha. We become as encumbered with technology as Martha was with serving (probably the better option of the two). We need times of quiet.

  • Noella A.

    I’d be lying to myself to say that I’m never bored, but I generally ALWAYS have something near at hand to occupy my mind. (Yes, this is one of them…)

    To answer the questions:

    1) The last time I was bored

    Well, as I recollect, the last time I got really, extremely bored was a couple years ago when my family and I were taking a looong road trip to the East Coast and I’d already read all the books I’d brought–and my Bible–my brothers were asleep, my Dad listening to politics on the Shawn Hannity Show, my Mom fast asleep also, and the countryside was rather uninteresting (until we got to the green hills o’ Virginia). To add to the scene–the vehicle we were driving was stuffy and smelled like stale french fries and rancid ketchup (we hadn’t yet reached the next “rest” stop to unload the collecting trash), if I opened a window my younger brother would wake up, if I belted out singing ‘Glory Hallelujah, I Shall Not Be Moved’ my Dad would frown at me in the review mirror and turn the radio louder and my older brother would mumble in his sleep in reference to the song, “We’re moving right now Noella..”
    So here I am in this altogether boring situation (in MY mind, anyway), I could have just continued to try to tune out the dronings of Mr. Hannity–or I could’ve listened to the topic and tried to glean some useful information. I could have just continued to stare enviously at my kin sleeping peacefully, untouched by boredom–or I could’ve relaxed my mind and joined them. In any case, what I could’ve done and what I did are two totally different things. I pulled out my trusty oft-used notebook and nearly-dry blue pen, poised to write, and stared out the window.
    The countyside really wasn’t that bad after all..in fact it was kind of pretty! So I directed my thoughts toward what God had placed there all along. Wow! I should be thankful that we had the funds to go on road trips, a sturdy van to drive, eyes to see God’s countryside, ears to hear (even if it’s just about politics), a nose to smell and enjoy food (and the abilty to eat), and most of all, I should be thankful for my lightly-snoring, slightly annoying brothers and sweet mother and sometimes-stern father that God has given me!
    So I received inspiration and wrote a poem. Though perhaps irrelevant to the situation explained above, it is what I wrote at the time.

    ~HELP ME~

    O Lord, help me to be
    All You want me to be;

    Help my feet only walk
    In the paths where You have trod,

    Help my will, humble before You
    Be unbending to the world,

    Help my hands, serving You
    Do the work that You have done,

    Help my heart be strong and true,
    Being faithful, Lord to You,

    Help my lips sing Your praise,
    And let them love You all my days,

    Help my ears hear Your voice,
    And the music of Your choice,

    Help my eyes look straight ahead,
    Seeing the nations for which You bled,

    Help my thoughts be pure and right,
    Thinking only of Your light.

    (Written 5/15/05)

    OK, I’m sorry that that ended up being such a long answer to a simple question.

    2) Mental snacks

    I practice piano in dramatic mezzo forte and try my compositions in mezzo piano (moderatly soft)…I write poetry (so far this month I’ve written five poems), I write in my second book (the first one is finished but not published yet, it’s a series), I read various edifying (and sadly, sometimes not) books and pamphlets, and I go for long walks in our beautiful woods.

    3) Well..Tell ya what. I have to clean house so I’ll ponder on a good answer to questions #3 and 4 while I do that.

    Adios amigos (and amigas).

    God bless!

  • Alyssa

    1. the last time I was really truly bored…well. Umm…I really don’t know. Probably not very long ago. My dad teaches at a Bible college of sorts for a six week term, and while he does that us “staff kids” get to hang out with the students practically all the time, and so I was really busy, and then the term ended, and all of a sudden I didn’t have anything to DO anymore, even though there were lots of things that I knew I should be doing, and have you noticed that this is a run-on sentence? Anyway, after first term ended (3 weeks ago?) was the last time I was bored.
    2. mental snacks. Well, this may sound weird, but playing hearts on the computer. Also, listening to country music. (My brother finds that boring, by the way.) Those are the unnecessary things that I do. They take up time and that’s it. But some good things that I do when I’m bored. Mainly, I write. I LOVE to write. I joumal (prayer journal..not really a diary), write essays, email long funny stories, write poetry. And I read. Novels usually, but sometimes I won’t have any of those “mental snacks” available, and so I’ll read nonfiction like I know I should. And those are the best times, because then I receive inspiration for my writing. I also play piano, scrapbook, listen to classical music, memorize verses for school…but I must confess. None of these good things get done until I’ve been bored for a while. The foolish things get done first.
    3. Lifestyle changes. Oh wow. In short, quit turning to the mental snacks. I must admit, quiet most often unsettles me. I have eight brothers and sisters, so I’m used to a lot of noise, and often I’m longing for quiet. but then in those rare moments I have it, I turn the radio or a CD on. When I go on a walk, I let myself daydream…avoiding self-examination, prayer, etc. So that would be the first thing I would need to work on. But then there are those..those…I can’t think of the word I want…those God-breathed, holy times, when I embrace the quiet, and experience such joy and awe for my mighty God as a result. Sadly, they don’t come nearly enough.
    4. Harnessing technology…i went a month without playing computer games. And I need to do that again. :) I don’t have a cell phone, ipod etc. And I probably won’t have either one for a long time, the main reason being the expense. :) So those two things aren’t a problem for me. However, I could see myself getting caught up in those gadgets if i would purchase them and wasting a ton of time.
    Thanks so much for the thoughtful, thought-inspiring post & for everything you guys do!

  • The last time I was bored, I started writing a book (was doing a youth pastor internship and was just meditating on my morning devotions and what it means to be a 1 Timothy 3 Christian since I couldn’t sleep that evening; I am almost done writing the book) and wrote a song that a group of us are singing in my church in a couple of weeks (the boredom actually created the words for the song as I was cleaning trash cans at Culver’s and meditating on the finished work of Christ; then the boredom created the 4-part a capella harmony later- when I was on drive-thru of all places to be bored enough to do this lol)

    It’s amazing what you can do when boredom is channeled to God’s use.

    Fighting the Good Fight of Faith,
    Noah
    2 Corinthians 1:3-5
    1 Timothy 6:12
    http://metamorpho-blog.blogspot.com

  • Bekah

    I really enjoyed this post. I am interested in writing a speech about how technology can actually interefere with the ability to think deeply so this will be a great resource!
    1. When was the last time you were really, truly bored? What happened? The last time I was bored was when I was at a cleaning job. I practiced my forensics pieces.
    2. What “mental snacks” do you use to avoid boredom? Do they really work? Editing movies, calling friends, checking e-mail, etc. These activities get me focused on something positive, so for the most part they keep me from being bored.
    3. What lifestyle changes can you make to harness the power of boredom? I need to make quiet times more of a priority in my life so that I can truly analyze thoughts and think clearly about decisions rather than rushing off to the next thing.
    4. Where is the balance between using technology and being controlled by it? I think that if you are e-mailing people because you want to maintain a friendship, then technology is a tool. But if you are addicted to it, like “I have to check my e-mail five times a day or I will die!” then it definitely has become a negative thing. I realized recently that there are many more important things for me to do rather than constantly checking e-mail or surfing the internet (such as read the Bible and other Christian books). So I want to make sure that technology is always a tool in my life…not something that controls me.

  • Catherine

    Thanks so much for this post! As someone who is extrememely paraniod about wasting a minute of her life (a good thing), this same someone often gets very frustrated when she seems to be doing nothing and instead tries to fill every minute with something (a bad thing). Thanks for reminding me that God often uses the “bored” moments to show me something of Himself. “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:somewhere

  • I know what it feels like to hear “The Call of the Internet”. That is really the main reason I gave it up for Lent. And I didn’t really mind after a while. I started reading a lot of books again. And now Lent is over, I have my mom, two sisters, and a self-created schedule to keep me off all of the time. My family does not have cabel, and non of us have cell phones, iPods or any thing like that. It’s great!
    Sometimes while washing the dishes or cleaning I like to listen to music, but most times I prefer talking and laughing with my sisters, or just thinking. It actually can be quite relaxing… so realaxing in fact that I have to remind myself that the dishes can’t take all night!
    So today I was sort of bored, my mom was on the computer, so instead, I wrote poetry. (Something I really enjoy doing.) That was the first time I decided to write when I was bored, and I found I liked it better then if I had been able to sit at the computer. Then I got writers block and there was food majorly burning in the kitchen so there went the burning…. I mean boredom!

    Actually, I hadn’t thought about studying Scripture when I was bored, so thanks for the idea!

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