By Fr. Jeremiah Shryock
It seems that more and more today people are suffering from boredom. People are bored with school, work, marriage, family, religion, politics and society in general. When something doesn’t immediately stimulate us or appeal directly to our senses, we move on to the next thing. There seems to be a written rule in the minds and hearts of people today that equates pleasure with fulfillment. Therefore, if I am not experiencing consolation and pleasure in what I am doing, then I am allowed to look elsewhere despite any previous commitments I have made.
This attitude is not only a tragedy on a human level but on a spiritual level as well. Prayer, meditation, growing in virtue and other exercises in the spiritual life can at times be “boring”. Often times, they leave us feeling dry and lacking in consolation and affirmation. We are not always going to feel God’s love, prayer is not always going to be a consoling and beautiful experience, and trying to grow in virtue is rarely ever going to be an easy and wonderful experience on a natural level.
When this dryness or boredom occurs, the temptation is usually to flee. If prayer is difficult, then quit or at least reduce it drastically. If some person in your life is not easy to get along with, and they don’t seem open to your attempts at love, then you ignore them. If you find it hard to spend time in silence and reflection, then you immerse yourself in noise and activity.
Boredom is not always a sign that you should be doing more but maybe that you should be going deeper where you are. When you are bored, there are alway opportunities for growth in patience, acceptances of God’s will, loving others, progress in prayer and a million other things. Yet none of this can happen if you are constantly running away from things because they are not immediately stimulating you.
In order for a person to truly appreciate a work of art, a sunset and even another person, they must allow themselves to stop, be silent and wait for some time, in order to grasp more fully what it is that is before them. The same is true in our relationship with God. We must be patient and wait through experiences of apparent “boredom” in order for us to grasp more fully the greatness and beauty of God. After all, it is we who are probably boring. God is the most exciting and interesting being in the entire universe.
Fr. Jeremiah Shryock is a friar with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. He lives at the community’s house of prayer, and he loves preaching, traveling, and handstand push-ups. This excerpt is from Letters of Hope and Consolation.