Friday, November 11, 2011

The Next Fun Thing

"Mom, I'm so bored," I heard a young child say the other day. It put me to contemplating. What is at the core of that sentiment? In our desire for fulfillment, we start out life looking in all the wrong places and have to learn what diffuses boredom, what truly fulfills.

I'm. bored.

It took me a few days to wrap my brain around the memory of that feeling, because for a long time the thought hadn't entered my mind. But once I pondered a bit, recall started kicking in--the memories actually started flooding my mind!--me, as a young girl, moping around, feeling bored, waiting for the next fun thing to come my way. How miserable I was.

As I grew a little older, the problem played itself out in other ways. I was always looking forward to something that hadn't happened yet. Things that I had just looked forward to the day before were not what they were cracked up to be once they happened. New stuff got old. The fun ride ended, the huge hot-fudge sundae was so sweet, it made me almost sick.  I wasn't embracing the moment or enjoying the journey, for I was seeking fulfillment in things that don't fulfill. The only way I could begin the process of fully embracing and enjoying the present, of ending the boredom, of finding true fulfillment, was to be at absolute peace with God, and then pursue the things that my relationship with Him naturally lead to. It was my moment-by-moment trusting relationship with Him that finally ended my waiting-for-the-next-fun-thing and dissolved the feeling of boredom in my life.

"A tranquil heart is life to the body, but passion is rottenness to the bones," says the Proverb writer. Ah... aren't those beautiful words? I physically--literally--relax when I read scripture like that. My pulse slows, and I breathe a quiet peaceful prayer of gratitude...

Once a parent, I realized that this tendency in my children had to be addressed. I had to help them see that pursuing pleasure--thinking any aspect of this physical world could bring lasting fulfillment--was empty and destructive and produced nothing but a cycle of ever-returning boredom along the way.

In the early days, when a young child demands, "Do it again! Do it again," she has felt the momentary adrenaline rush of physical pleasure, and she will deal with that thrill in whatever way her parents train. If she is encouraged to pursue it without restraint, we train her to follow mindlessly the force that could eventually prevent her from developing self-control, the force that could prevent her from even seeing her need of a relationship with God. Now, does that mean we never let a child enjoy a simple thrill or pleasure she happens to like? Of course not. This is a long-term, over-arching perspective we parents must understand as we help our children walk after the example of Christ. However, we must always be watching for signs that reveal the direction in which our child is headed, for they are always headed somewhere--either toward God or away from Him.

As little girls mature, they tend to fantasize and seek the thrill of being the center of attention; they pursue relational highs. They want to be THE princess, the ultimate definition of beauty, the sought after mysterious maiden. All these things must be discussed and thoughtfully worked through so as to help them see where fulfillment is and where it isn't. We must realize the danger of feeding on one fantasy romance after another, of filling the eyes and the mind with endless glamour magazines and catalogs, of listening to music and watching movies that incite this natural propensity for vanity. This is not the path of a follower of Jesus Christ and will produce in us: boredom, jealousy, self-centeredness, and eventual destruction.

Many young boys push the limits for bigger and bigger thrills in their playtime. If parents fail to train properly, boys can progress--pursuing the ever increasing desire for adrenaline highs--from the innocent thrill of  four-wheeler rides and sporting accomplishments to drugs, alcohol, and even pornography. New brain research indicates that addictions of all sorts are related to these simple basic adrenaline highs. (Quite an interesting and helpful topic to study if you haven't.) If parents allow young boys to pursue thrills for the sake of the thrills, without teaching them to understand themselves and keep temperance, moderation, and thoughtful proactive Christ-centered living as their heart-motivation, the end of their story will most likely be one of destruction.

In contrast to this natural way of the flesh, which pushes us to try to fill our emptiness with all the wrong things and to appease the boredom of life with temporary highs, we must help our young ones by lighting the fire of loving-to-learn-truth,  by doing all sorts of learning play and work with them, ever teaching them what truly brings fulfillment. We must show them a Christlike example, finding our own fulfillment in God, demonstrating what a follower of Jesus pursues, how he chooses his very next thought, his very next word, his very next action.

We cannot ever forget, when our little one says something like, "I'm so bored!", it means something. Our precious children will not naturally find the path to true fulfillment. They needs us to disciple them every moment of the day.  May God help us all.

"Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fulness of joy;
In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever." ~Psalm 16:11