The Blessing of Boredom

Maybe it’s because I just came back from Paris, a place where I was out of my element and every day was an adventure. Maybe it’s because I’m just now finally adjusting to my new work load. Maybe it’s because I’m honestly very comfortable in Pasadena, as comfortable as I’ve ever been anywhere.

But for whatever reason, I’m bored.

A year ago I was entering into the busiest four months of my life. I was working full time for the Alumni Office, part time for Reel Spirituality, taking two classes (a 2/3 load), taking monthly trips to Chula Vista, planning a trip to Houston/College Station, and trying to spend as much time with my friends in Pasadena as possible. I was stretched pretty thin, too thin, actually, and I knew it, but I didn’t really want to give any of it up.

A few weeks from now a year ago, I went on my yearly retreat to consider my life, and God showed me that I needed to give something up. That something turned out to be my full time job in the Alumni Office as I was able to move to just less than full time for Reel Spirituality. I also decided to take less classes, both because I couldn’t afford to take so many without my full time job plus benefits and because I wasn’t really able to focus on two classes at a time. One class always ended up being neglected. Seven months ago I made those changes to my life.

I then quickly took on a new commitment or two, and coupled with the stress of adjusting to a new rhythm of life, I was able to fill up my newly freed up time nicely. Some of those commitments went away just before I left for Paris, but, of course, then I had the all-consumingness of my practicum to distract me.

Now I’m back, and for the first time in two years, I have time unclaimed by outside influences. I haven’t been this free since my second quarter at Fuller, and even then I was very involved in a church and trying to get to know all the new people I was meeting. Before then I was working two jobs in Pasadena and taking two classes. Before then I was working 50 hours a week for Eric’s Snacks. Before then I was in Montana. Before then I was working 50+ hours a week for Isbell Engineering. Before then I was working 20 hours per week for Dr. Futrell and taking an average of 19 hours a semester at A&M. Before then I was managing the UTD basketball team and taking more than a full load of classes. Before then I was in high school.

Now that I think about it, I’ve never had this much voluntarily unstructured time. No wonder I’m confused about how to behave.

Busyness is easier. Busyness destroys the need to think about what one is doing. When all my time was claimed, I could rush from one thing to another, and I didn’t have time to ask what I ought to be doing. All that mattered was that I kept moving.

Part of me misses that frenzied action. Part of me is tempted to take on responsibilities to take my attention and time. I’m tempted to leave Pasadena, to plan trips, and to work way more hours than I’m paid for just to fill up my day.

The other option is to seriously consider how I’m spending my time, to dare to question my choices, to ask what I should be doing, what action on my part would best be part of establishing God’s Kingdom Coming in my world, how I might best steward this time and make my time God’s time.

Those are hard questions, and I know part of the answer is to do the work set before me, to be faithful with what God as already given me. I also have the conviction that there is more to life than rushing from one thing to another, never satisfied with my work in any one area, always wishing I had more time to devote to any one thing. It is much more difficult to focus than it is to be distracted. Too often in life I think I’ve committed myself to distraction, partly out of a lack of faith that God would provide for me both monetarily and opportunitively, but also partly out of fear that if I took the risk of looking, I’d discover that I’d been doing things that God would not really have me do.

I pray that I’ll be brave enough to not jump into commitments just to fill up my calendar, that the things I do take on are given to me by God, that I accept them graciously and humbly instead of snatching at them and pining them to my chest like badges of busy pride. I have learned to trust God to provide for me in all areas – money, relationships, and opportunity – and because of this I can be patient. I pray that I will be.

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