Southland Christian Ministry Training

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Sage Advice for the Bored

Recently I was reading a book by Charles Ringma (Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen) who makes the observation that many of us are “bored in spite of our much-doing”, suggesting that we try to cure the disease of boredom with more work or more activities yet still find no joy or fulfillment in life! I have to admit that I periodically suffer from this “disease” as well, and it is not enough to rationalise and try to convince myself this is just till “I go on leave” or “get posted” or “retire”. When people tell me to “accept that it just happens” or “get over it” they miss the point! There should be more to life that just doing stuff, while feeling trapped on an unending treadmill!

If you said that to me I would respond saying “So, what are you going to do about it?” Yet, I know there are no easy answers. According to Ringma, (Reflection 84) the key is “learning to celebrate the ordinary” and seek to combine your “faith with your daily work”. Sadly, most people do not see any connection between their vocation (their job) and their spirituality, so they just give up. I think what Ringma is talking about is being able to grasp an understanding of the meaning and purpose of your life. If you don’t know why you are here, how can you get enthusiastic about it? If you don’t know where you are going, how can you celebrate getting there?

I have not got all the answers, and I don’t even understand all the questions but if you feel stuck on a boring treadmill here is some SAGE advice:

Stop! Take some time out every day to ponder the big questions of life. For me, part of that is journaling, asking myself not just “what am I doing?” but “why?” For many that also may involve prayer, meditation, reading and reflecting. If you don’t like what you see in the mirror…

Adjust Attitude! Seeking to blame everybody else and everything else for why things happen does not help. There are many things that you have no control over, your powers of choice are limited but you can choose your attitude. Focus n the positives, put first things first and plan for the future, then…

Go Forward! Just reflecting and changing your attitude will help you to get things back into perspective, but to get out of the rut you are in will require positive action – moving forward – doing things differently. However, that may not be a comfortable transition, because all change brings pain! The key is to give it all you have got and go forward…

Enthusiastically! Do it with passion, learning to motivate yourself, rather than expecting someone else to do it for you. Try reading some positive books, avoiding negative influences and mixing with positive people. I have found that enthusiasm is contagious, and if you know who you are, where you are going and how you are going to get there others will follow you!

You can do all that without seeing the connection to your spirituality, but if you want the most out of life, I would challenge you to consider where God fits in your life. I’m not talking about “religion” but an openness to the possibility that personal faith and belief in God may change your perspective on life and what makes it worth living!

Chaplain Ian S Whitley