Day 24: Boredom
THE SOURCES OF BOREDOM
Boredom is a greatly underestimated vice that many fall into. When we become bored, the allure of temptation seems to increase as it promises to fill the void we feel. All boredom has a source - it is not random. I've found that boredom typically stems from one of these three places:
- Lack of Purpose
- Entertainment Saturation
Let's examine these three places in more depth to understand how boredom arises, and what we can do about it.
Lack of Purpose
We all have a God-ordained mission here on this Earth. We each have a unique mission - a part that only we can do, as well as a community mission - The Great Commission. These missions counter any complacency or boredom in our lives because they put us in a constant state of being alert:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
When we fail to fulfill this mission, or refuse to engage in it, we lack purpose. Sure, there are other things in our lives that we can replace it with for a time, but none of it is long term or long lasting. Boredom spawns from this lack of purpose. We feel that there is nothing in life meaningful for us to do so we just give into whatever desirable thing comes our way. Typically it's some form of temptation to sin, and for the person struggling with sexual sin addiction, it's only a matter of time before they stumble in that area.
Omission is related to a lack of purpose in the sense that we now know what we ought to do, but refuse to do it. In other words, we fully recognize the things we need to do in order for freedom to reign in our lives, but we simply don't do them. This might be as simple as studying the word of God. We know we should read the bible, but we don't. We know we should pray, but we don't. We know we should have fellowship and accountability, but we don't. Oftentimes I'd stumble after a period of freedom because of omission. I'd neglect the things I committed to doing and as a result I would find myself in situations where temptation thrived. Allow me to give an example from my testimony:
I had slowly stopped waking up early in the mornings to read the word and pray because I had stopped going to bed at a reasonable hour. This happened over time, not all at once. Before I knew it, I was waking up at 9-10am in the morning (instead of my previous 5 am devotional time) and felt so guilty about sleeping in that I didn't have it in me to read the word or pray. Not only that, but my entire household was already awake so how could I justify going away by myself for any amount of time?
When we omit the things we know we ought to do, regardless of where we are in our journey, it ultimately leads to a feeling of boredom and self-pity. We simply throw in the towel and choose to give into temptation instead of working to fulfill the mission laid out for us in Matthew 28.
This one is a bit trickier to explain, but those who struggle with it will know exactly what I'm talking about. We live in a high tech world that feeds on entertainment. Perhaps without even realizing it, we all, in some way, have learned to crave entertainment in our daily lives. Video games, movies, television shows, social media, and instant communication have become a normal part of most people's lives.
We're not here to say that these things are in and of themselves evil or wrong. Like anything else, however, these can take the place of God and can even consume us with such intensity that we become saturated by entertainment. Have you ever had the feeling that there is nothing capable of entertaining you, despite having access to all your usual forms of gratification? As you desperately search for a way to fulfill that craving, boredom sets in. Giving into sexual sin seems only natural in this situation. There is little left in us to resist, feeling depressed that nothing is lifting us up.
FROM THE DEPTHS
We've identified three major sources of boredom in the previous sections, but how do we rise out of those depths? It's not difficult for a person trapped in quicksand to realize their impending doom. The tough part is taking a deep breath and finding a way out.
Regaining Purpose and Countering Omission
We touched on this briefly in the previous section - we all have a purpose. Not just a fickle or manmade purpose, but a divine goal that has been set before every one of us. Understand that is impossible to be bored when fulfilling this purpose. Why do you think that is? Quite simply because we have been hardwired to serve and worship God. It's who we are and why we were made. Our sinful nature might not always agree with that purpose or care to uphold it, but it's still true nonetheless. When was the last time you sought to share the gospel with another person? We often view this as an awkward conversation with a stranger, but that's hardly how it's done. Typically those who are most willing to listen are those closest to us. Think of someone in your life who you'd call a friend. How can you reach that person with the gospel?
Our natural response is to shutter at the idea of spreading the love and knowledge of Christ. Think of it though... you've tried so many other things to find purpose in life and have been left empty handed. What if you just tried this to prove us wrong? The reality is that we're not wrong. Spreading God's message is what we were made to do. It's the one thing that will never leave us disappointed or bored. In addition to this, we each have a unique calling - a way of furthering God's kingdom in a way that no one else can do quite the same way. Discovering this mission, and your giftedness in order to accomplish this mission, is one of the greatest journeys you can take in this lifetime.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. -Matthew 24:14 (ESV)
Repealing Entertainment Saturation
As I'm writing this I'm reminded of my past life, before marriage, before kids, before I had a job. I remember spending hours upon hours playing video games of all varieties. In my head right now, it might look like "the good ol' days." In reality those were some of the darkest and most lonely times of my life. Despite having all of the desires of my flesh fulfilled, I was lonely, broken, and longing for something more. For you it might be something other than video games, so simply fill in the blanks where appropriate. There is really only one answer if you find yourself in this situation. You have to cut out the sources of non-stop entertainment. By this I mean it's time to get rid of the things that are consuming your life. Refusing to do so will only continue the cycle endlessly. You'll feel bad, vow to never do "that thing" again, wait a few days, start "that thing" again, rinse, and repeat. I went through the cycle for years and it always led to me becoming so saturated and consumed by entertainment that sexual sin just became an obvious byproduct. When your entire day is dedicated to self-centered acts of fulfilling yourself, how could you not throw in sexual sin for good measure?
This doesn't mean certain things are gone forever. To this day, I enjoy playing games with friends when appropriate. However, I have to keep myself in constant check and have aggressive accountability. Otherwise I'll sink right back into my old life.
Day 24 Application
Have you experienced boredom in your life? Which of the three sources did it fall under?
How can you counter your boredom? Be specific, what things in your life need to change?
What is it like for you to consider spending time with God when you are bored? What can you do with Him that would be more engaging? Have you been in contact with your accountability partner such that you were asked tough questions about purity?
Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?