Something I am beginning to notice in the midst of our social distancing is that people are beginning to get bored. Just go on any social media platform, and you will find videos of people doing some pretty creative things. However, some of these creative endeavors are driven by mind numbing boredom. In most circumstances, these creative projects are beneficial to help fuel our imaginations and to prevent us from becoming depressed, angry, or frustrated with our weird COVID-19 reality. However, boredom can also lead to pretty dangerous and damaging behavior.
I wonder how many of us in our world today are battling former addictions that we thought we had under control. We are looking for ways to numb our fear, our anger, our frustration, our depression. We are turning back to the bottle or the bong. We are searching for comfort, so we are scrolling on Etsy and Amazon. We have abandoned our healthy habits, and instead are sheet caking through our days or napping for hours or streaming Netflix and Hulu. All of these habits can become addictions, ways to rid our ever wandering minds of the scary thoughts that just won’t go away. But these are all a temporary fix for our out of control emotions.
This is not a new reality for humanity. Throughout history, we have always found ways to relieve our boredom or depression. As I struggle this week with missing my students, with feeling pressured to take advantage of every second of my day, with trying to help my son who is transitioning into adulthood, with assisting my husband with building our church in a new electronic environment, and with just trying to hold it together emotionally, I am reminded that idleness is death. Idleness leads to bad habits which lead to addictions which lead to separation from others and from God.
The story of King David in 2 Samuel 11 is a harsh reminder of what happens when we become idle. When we are bored, we often fall into sin that we never thought imaginable. 2 Samuel 11:1 reads, “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem” (NIV). David remained in Jerusalem while his men went off to the battle. David remained in Jerusalem when he should have been fighting alongside of his soldiers.
I think we know the rest of the story. While David is in Jerusalem, he sees a woman that he wants. Bathsheba. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen. David is not satisfied with the wives that he already has. He is not satisfied to be the king of Israel. He is not satisfied with the promise that God has given him. Instead, he seeks out someone to comfort him in his time, not of worry, not of fear, not of frustration, but his time of boredom. David has become idle. Idleness leads to addiction and addiction leads to separation from others and from God.
Sadly, this story does not end with David’s encounter with Bathsheba, but it continues with her pregnancy and with David’s indirect murder of her husband, Uriah. This story reminds us that our idleness can easily lead us on a road that we never intended. I do not believe that David, a man after God’s own heart, ever planned on killing one of his soldiers as a way to get him out of the picture. This was not the plan. However, this is what happened because David was bored.
Let’s be careful as we are staying home. Let’s cultivate healthy habits that are life giving to our own souls but also to our relationships with others and our relationship with God. Let’s be upfront about the way we are feeling. If you are sad, talk to someone. If you are angry, talk to someone. If you are afraid, talk to someone. Reach out to your friends and family members. And more than anything, reach out to the creator of the universe who loves you and knows every intimate detail.
Be encouraged to experience God’s grace for your life today.