On Bread, Boredom and Busyness

Don’t you hate it when you get a Bible verse stuck in your mind, like a piece of food turning sideways in your throat on the way down? And you just know that God will not let you forget it until you face it head on; allow it to peel back your layers and reach inside your heart?

I’ve been doing a study on Proverbs 31 lately, using Pursuing Proverbs 31 by Amy Bayliss. What I’m enjoying about this particular study is the way Amy gets away from typical Proverbs 31 studies (which tend to go through each verse and talk about the practical applications for modern women) and instead she explores the deeper spiritual aspects of this well worn passage. It’s been truly eye-opening for me! (I’d be happy to loan my copy to any real-life friends.)

Two of the verses from Proverbs 31 that stand out to me at the moment (and by stand out to me, I mean, the Spirit is using them to prod me a lot) are verses 11 and 27:

Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.

She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

I want to talk a bit about the latter verse today.

I’ve thought a lot about the particular phrasing of this verse – “the bread of idleness”. Why not just say “She watches over the affairs of her household and is not idle”? No, I believe the imagery of eating bread is employed for an important reason. Is there something wrong with eating bread? No, it is a staple of many diets. But it’s not particularly nutritious. And it wouldn’t be good for someone to only eat bread for a long time. Sure, they might survive, but they would be malnourished and weak after a while.

So how is this like idleness? Well, down time and relaxation are not inherently bad things. They are important things to build into life so we don’t burn out. But like bread, if all we do is relax and pursue our hobbies and generally blob around, it won’t be good for us. Akin to neglecting our bodies by denying it important nutrients, spending all our time in idleness will result in important areas of our life being neglected.


I have Proverbs 31:27 stuck to my laptop at the moment, because the internet is one of my biggest “idle” temptations.

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(Some may note the irony of me discussing this – yep – on the internet. I don’t think all time spent on the internet is time being idle. For example, I spend time on the internet doing necessary tasks like emailing and banking, or connecting with people, or researching new ideas for the kids or house, or developing my writing through the blog. I don’t consider these things to always fall under the category of “idleness”, although they certainly can!)

The idea behind sticking it on my laptop was that I would see it and not open the laptop to go online during times I had other things that needed doing. But it hasn’t stopped me. Like putting on a band-aid because you’ve got internal bleeding, it has not really had any effect.

So I’m going looking deeper, wanting to find the real cause and solution for my “idleness” problem. And let’s just be really honest – it’s laziness.

I think laziness is one of those “acceptable” sins. When obvious, it makes a person quite ugly. But it’s easy to cover up and hide from people. It’s not immediately evident when looking at someone who struggles with laziness. And that makes it easy to not address it.


When I think to my own struggle with laziness, I think of all the things that get neglected because I have wasted time on idle activities.

What things get neglected? What makes up my day to day work?

Well, my current “position” is stay at home Mum, which means throughout the day I’m responsible for the nurture and discipline of our kids, cleaning the house, managing our finances, running errands, buying groceries, preparing food and generally keeping things running smoothly.

Yes, it’s a lot to do. Yes, a lot of it is boring.

Boring.

There, I said it.

There’s nothing exciting about washing dishes three times a day. Or scrubbing the toilet. Or hanging washing. Or paying bills. Or changing nappies. Or… you get the point.

And I know that serving the Lord gives value to everything we do. I know that raising our children to love the Lord is one of the most important things anyone can do. I know that having a clean and orderly house makes my husband feel more at peace.

But there is no getting around it. I spend a lot of time doing boring things.

Or rather, I should spend a lot of time doing boring things. But these are often the things that get neglected as I give way to laziness. It’s never the fun things that get neglected.

I wonder if we are getting closer to the heart of the issue.

Why do I not want to do the boring things? Why do I consider them not worthy of my time?


I grew up among a generation of women being told we could do anything we set our minds to. Told to “dream big” and go far.

The “Christian” version of this goes something like “God has placed a big dream inside everyone’s heart. In order to truly be fulfilled (and fulfill God’s purpose for you on earth) you need to pursue that dream.”

I’m sure that some women will go on to lead an extraordinary life, change the world and make a difference in the lives of many people. But I don’t think every woman can or should lead this kind of “big” life.

Romans 9:20-21 says:

But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

Am I okay with being the pottery made for “common use”?


There is a quote that floats around on internet memes and facebook pages: “Well-behaved women seldom make history”.

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This quote is usually applauded and chuckled over. Because the subtext is clear: Everyone wants to make history. Everyone wants to be noticed.

But you don’t make history by being “well-behaved”. You don’t make history by faithfully serving God as someone who is “common”. You don’t make history by doing the boring things.

Perhaps instead of longing for excitement and fame, I should be content to do the work set before me, faithfully and quietly.

Because after all, Jesus has already and definitively changed history, and I can’t compete with that.

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7 thoughts on “On Bread, Boredom and Busyness

  1. Ahh, I remember those “boring” feelings so well. It does feel boring cleaning toilets, wiping snotty noses, doesn’t it? When you are older often you can look back on the experience, and it is more like “wow, I created and educated an entire human being.” I built a home, a family, created a marriage, a community, built a relationship with Christ Himself, with God who created the whole universe. It is like having accomplished a dozen jobs all at once, teacher, pastor, nurse, psychologist, biologist. It is so easy to get caught up in the mundane “boring” of it all, but look ahead, speak kindly to yourself, and know that you have tremendous worth and value that can sometimes take a lifetime to see properly.

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  2. One lady more than a decade older than me in our women’s Bible study group told me that while we have little kids and are doing it all on the homefront, it feels like “chasing donkeys” (I can’t remember where, but she got this from a biblical application). Having a blog and wanting to read other’s blogs really is a pathway that can lead to idleness… it’s always a careful balance 🙂 When I first started blogging, I didn’t have this newest baby, so I was able to wake up at 5am, do a good quiet time talking to God, reading His word, or journaling to Him and listening to Him, then after that was done, I’d write out 1 post a day pretty much (minus weekends). I mostly would stay away from the computer for the rest of the day until sometimes late in the evening to check comments. But it was a conscious decision to put the computer away in a different room and FOCUS myself on our daily tasks and activities.

    Definitely need to get back into doing that… sleeploss + babies or small children can lead to major boredom and idle time spent distracting ourselves from what really needs to get done.

    As far as doing the boring faithful work that needs to be done? Gideon was faithfully threshing wheat in a wine cellar (the worst place to thresh wheat, he was only there because of the circumstances of Midianites stealing their food), but while he was there, being faithful, is when God came to him (the Angel of the Lord, which is said to be Jesus) calling him forth to be a great a mighty warrior. Its often when we’re doing the quite, boring, and often difficult (or painful) tasks that God speaks to us, calls us out into our purpose, or shines His light on us.

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  3. Yes, I hear you on needing to carve out specific internet time! My husband recently spent a couple of days at home with us during the week, and his one word of advice was that I need to have set times I go on the internet, and the rest of the time the computer is off.

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  4. One of the things I always consider if I am feeling a little down is whether or not I am listening to enough music. I love music, but I often forget how much I love it. So, yesterday I found a good alternative station to listen to and listened away while washing dishes. I also borrow my daughter’s ipod to take to the the gym and have much better workouts. If those things don’t work, read or watch Madame Bovary: it’s a good reminder that most of us already have anything we could truly want or need.

    Since my husband and I have different sleep schedules, I appreciate the online connections as it means there are lots of women of good influence to easily chat with 🙂

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  5. I really appreciate this, SS.

    In my own life, idleness comes and goes as often as my hormones fluctuate. I will have times in my life [a couple weeks] where I adhere to a schedule and then I will have times in my life when I literally complete nothing substantial for weeks on end. Now don’t get me wrong, this is NO excuse and is not intended to be some encouragement that it actually is okay to be lazy despite the Bible’s clear admonitions against it, I am just confessing here.

    It is funny how quickly women can become motivated and then deflated, lol. For example, all of the fad diets that last a week. I like that you mentioned that not everyone can easily diagnose a lazy person because unless they are in the everyday trenches, one might not take on the appearance of a lazy person. My cousin is literally moving about constantly, she is in her late thirties and is always doing home improvment tasks, gardening or simply standing. She doesn’t find solace in sitting like I do and I suppose that is a choice she made. I love being around her home because it greatly motivates me to be like her in my own home. Like I said, it’s so easy to become motivated, like I am when I see her, then after a few days, I settle back into my more relaxed and idle lifestyle. This is a lack of discipline in its most exposed form.

    When I used to blog, it helped me tremendously to stay on task because I knew that I had women reading that would take my advice to: not be lazy, and I would be quite an ugly hypocrite by indulging myself. I had several posts about hypocrisy and laziness because laziness is one of my largest struggles and so I was carving myself right into a hypocrite by being lazy. But, it didnt stop me from still being lazier than I definitely should have been, just helped me to keep it at the forefront of my mind, like you putting that verse on your computer . I just was a hypocritical lazy person now, haha. But really.

    It all comes down to a lack of discipline. I have zero discipline and that must change. Just like it is a lack of discipline that allows me to be influenced too much by my ever changing hormones, it is a lack of discipline that keeps me from working steadily all throughout the day. I must understand that although my toddlers dont hold me accountable for my laziness [yet], there is One who is higher that sees it all, each time, everday.

    Anywho, I am right in the idleness boat with you, perhaps you can think of me when you get that hankering to sit on your duff, and I will think of you when I do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this one, I really identify well with it. Sorry the comment is so long. 🙂

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  6. Thank you for your comment! I think there is power in bringing our sins into the light of fellow believers – it makes them harder to continue. And I will indeed think of you when I’m tempted to slack off!
    One thing that has helped me lately is to embrace all the incidental exercise that comes with having toddlers, instead of resenting it. Someone needs their sippy cup? I’ll get it. Someone forgot to turn the light off? No worries.
    Practically this means I am up and down a lot more, but it helps to keep the motivation going and stay active!

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  7. Pingback: Blogging and Life Updates | seriously serving the saviour

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