On Boredom (Or, What I Did on My Summer Vacation)

a summer list

Our Summer List is nearly illegible.  Most of the items are crossed through.  I might have drawn a neat pencil line through each activity (trying to check it off but not erase it).  My young daughter, who has not yet learned to grasp desperately at passing time, obliterated most of the list with a thick, black marker.

On the record, I’d say that our list helped shape an enjoyable summer.  Though, the perfectionist zeal of my first-born did lead to a difficult argument on one of the final days of summer vacation.  No, I had to tell her, we cannot visit the carousel, go on a picnic, keep a writing journal, and make playdough all in a single day just because they are still on the list.  The compromise was a half-hour drive to the carousel.  And a few more memories for our piggy banks.

The Summer List did not completely silence the eternal summer cries of “Mom, I’m bored!”  Nor should it have. 

I tend to think that boredom is good for children, like green beans and sharing a bedroom.  I tell them as much, though they remain unconvinced.

I thought I believed my own preaching, but I began to doubt that over the summer.  I too have been bored.  Very bored.  I discovered that, for me at least, green beans and sharing a bedroom are much, much better than being bored.

Of course, boredom is a privilege.  If I had to walk miles in fear to collect water for my family, I would not be bored.

I wonder, is boredom merely a lesser evil, or might it have some good to offer?

I know that I don’t like it, I know that I don’t want it, and yet I write out here a few of the gifts boredom has recently given me:

To be bored is to be unhurried.

When my toddler throws a screaming fit, I let him scream.  But, I also sit down close by because nothing else is screaming for my attention.  When he’s ready to climb into my lap, I’m right there.

To be bored is to be waiting.

I have been thinking (and, let’s face it, hoping) that boredom might be one of the final stages of resting.  When we first rest from work, we are content to simply be.  After a while, our minds, our hearts, our bodies are ready, once again, to do.

To be bored is to be listening.

God is always talking.  Sometimes He has a lot to say, and He says it in some big way, but, more often, He is whispering.  When I am bored out of my mind, my ears are searching for any sound from Him, so eager am I to hear the extraordinary break into my ordinary.

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