Beyond Boredom | April 10, 2020

Beyond Boredom | April 10, 2020

Three Things This Week

1. Easter in Exile
What it is: This weekend, we face the painful realization that Easter 2020 will be nothing like the celebration we had planned or hoped for. And that’s okay.
Why it’s our reality: Like the exiled Hebrews, we find ourselves in a foreign place, unable to worship and celebrate as we would like, lamenting what once was and the memories of a better time. It may seem nearly impossible to truly celebrate our risen Savior when we’re stuck inside, unable to raise our voices in the corporate worship we crave. Yet, as Bishop Todd Hunter reminds us, lament and celebration are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the tension between the now and not yet of the Kingdom of God is our reality, one that reminds us of the enormity of what Jesus did that first Easter and what He has promised to someday do. If you or your teenagers are struggling, check out the article for practical ways to experience the heart of Easter together.

2. Virtual Everything
What it is: In an effort to help high school seniors experience one of their highly anticipated milestones, Teen Vogue is hosting a virtual prom (on Zoom, of course) on May 16.
Why it’s the right idea: Though it may seem silly to try to make yet another thing virtual (how do you have a dance electronically?), many soon-to-be grads might really appreciate the effort. The effects of the pandemic are tougher on them (language) than we realize, since the usual ways by which they are able to celebrate their achievements and say goodbye to a huge chapter of their lives have all vanished. But rather than trusting such a monumental occasion and our teenagers to Teen Vogue, perhaps it might spur us as parents, teachers, administrators, and pastors to find our own creative ways to help them commemorate this momentous time while staying socially distant.

3. Better than Going Viral
What it is: Despite many Gen Zers seeming determined to give their generation a bad name, many in the generation are quietly doubling down on their efforts to help others.
Why it’s worth spreading: The internet has a way of rewarding extreme behaviors, thanks to our fascination with the strange, weird, and downright shocking. Thus the young spring breakers who ignored social distancing to party on crowded beaches, the teens who coughed on produce in grocery stores, and even the TikTokers who licked airplane toilet seats as part of the #coronaviruschallenge went, ahem, viral. Yet while we adults erupted in outrage, many teenagers got busy volunteering to do their part, like this 16-year-old who flies his plane to deliver needed medical supplies to rural hospitals. He and others like him seem to recognize that doing what’s right and never being noticed is much more rewarding than being celebrated for the wrong reasons. Keep your eyes peeled for these teens in your community.

I’m Bored!

If your kids are like the millions of other teens stranded at home these days, then you’ve heard “I’m bored!” at least a bazillion times in the last two weeks. Honestly, we understand. How many TikToks, Office reruns, or Zoom meetups does it take before they reach their limit? At some point, the new normal sets in, and they simply run out of things to do. Or do they?

Grace Wong, a teenager in New Jersey, is learning that boredom can be a great teacher. “If there’s anything this self-isolation has taught me so far, it’s this: It’s never too late to bond with family and awaken new interests.” And thankfully, Grace is not alone. Buzzfeed shared stories from her and 11 other teens stuck at home due to the coronavirus, and incredibly enough, many of them admitted that their boredom sparked a burst of creativity.

Whether it’s learning to cook, journaling, weaving, filming short indie movies, writing poetry, or painting old pairs of jeans, there seems to be no limit to what our kids can conceive of if given the opportunity and mental space. According to psychologist Sandi Mann, “A bored mind moves into a daydreaming state,” seeking new and inventive ways to be stimulated and engaged. J.R.R. Tolkien admitted that it was boredom that led him to writeThe Hobbit. Boredom, it appears, is incredibly beneficial. So why do we avoid it like the plague?

Unfortunately, smartphones and entertainment have become the biggest enemies of useful boredom, encouraging us to always be stimulated. Instead of leaning into our lethargy and allowing it to lead us into deeper levels of creativity and consciousness, most of us choose stimulation via screens, thus blocking the beneficial payoff that boredom provides.

So at some point this week, when your teens inevitably come up to you and once again say, “I’m bored!” tell them how excited you are for them! Encourage them to embrace the boredom, see where it might lead them, and watch their minds move from a helpless, depressive state into beautiful levels of awareness and inspiration.

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

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