Boredom: A measurement of personal emptiness

When writing a letter to Rev. Billy Graham a few years ago, someone made a comment that wasn’t very flattering of young people. But, I think the tables could easily be turned and applied to people over 50, too.

The individual asked, “So many young people don’t want to work these days. Others are unchallenged and disconnected. Are they bored or just lazy?”

While many people over 50 are retired and past working every day for their careers, it seems as though they also suffer from being unchallenged and disconnected.

It’s no wonder. It is very easy to feel pushed to the sidelines with a retirement gift, party and hearty, “Thank you for your service. Now enjoy yourself because you deserve it.”

So these intelligent, gifted and uniquely-equipped seasoned citizens relegate themselves to activities designed to take up time between meals and a nap. That’s no way to live — especially in retirement.

Rev. Graham offered wonderful insight to the situation.

“God intended for life to be filled with purpose and we can pray that God will turn our eyes from worthless things and fix our eyes upon Jesus. (See Hebrews 12:1-3) Christ can fill the vacuums. He will restore personal identity if we fix our eyes upon Him.

“Many people flounder in a time of crisis and find that their efforts lead them not up but further down into the pit. We’re a nation of empty people. Our heads are crammed full of knowledge, but within our souls is a spiritual vacuum.”

While parents may not understand why their teenage and young-adult children don’t want to work and expect everything to be handed to them; the children of seasoned citizens ask a similar question.

They wonder why mom and dad seem empty, distant, angry and aloof, despite having everything they ever wanted, more resources than they know what to do with, and more time available to do almost anything they’d like to do.

Rev. Graham said it’s because people are actually empty inside.

“They aren’t filled with the spirit that makes work (or purposeful activity) a joy. They aren’t filled with the determination that makes pushing ahead a pleasure,” he wrote. “And why are they so empty? Because they don’t know why they’re here, or where they’re going!”

Even seasoned citizens still need direction and perspective. They impose limitations on themselves because of their age, former occupation, education or income level. My mother was a perfect example of that.

She didn’t have a college degree, so she felt uncomfortable even talking with those who did because they were “smarter” than she was. Most of her career involved working as a secretary or administrative assistant to the most powerful people in the Wisconsin university system, yet she only saw herself as “just a secretary.”

As a result, she spent most days sitting at her kitchen table playing computer games or watching mindless YouTube videos and television shows. My mother would have benefited from a role model who could have shown her what was still possible for someone her age.

“Man is the only one of God’s creatures who is capable of being bored,” wrote Rev. Graham. “Since He gave man the capacity for boredom, He did it for a purpose. Boredom is one of the sure ways to measure man’s inner emptiness!

“It reveals just how hollow the inner spirit really is,” he added. “The person who is thoroughly bored is living and working in a vacuum. It is one of the unfailing rules of this universe that all vacuums must be filled, and filled immediately.

“God intended for life to be filled with purpose and we can pray that God will turn our eyes from worthless things and fix our eyes upon Jesus, who can fill the vacuums,” Rev. Graham wrote. “He will restore personal identity if we fix our eyes upon Him.”

If you’re over 50 and feeling as though your life doesn’t have any purpose, please send me a friend request on Facebook. or join the Forward From 50 community. I would be happy to have a life-changing discussion with you to learn about your natural talent, learned skills and unique life experiences.

I guarantee we will come up with something you will love to do that adds purpose and value to your life, and impacts the lives of others in ways that will leave you and everyone around you astonished.

If you don’t use Facebook, feel free to send me a message on the Forward From 50 contact page.