To say a prayer is not enough. One has to believe that it’s possible for that prayer to be heard.
- Rabbi Marvin Hier
This week my kids are on winter break. It’s good for them to have unstructured time, but by Wednesday, boredom and irritability have set in.
I subscribe to the philosophy that boredom is like bad breath–it comes from within. You can hide the problem by entertaining it away, or you can learn to ride out the discomfort and discover that you actually do have ideas of your own.
My kids don’t particularly like this aspect of my parenting. They would rather have me hand them a craft, allow unlimited screen time or make arrangements for a fun outing. But there's a life lesson here, since what’s convenient in the short run is very rarely what’s best over the long haul. And there's a faith lesson as well: We are made in the likeness and image of God and are called to be creative. We are all intended to produce, to generate new ideas, to tend the world, to make a difference. That’s hard to do if we expect someone else to keep us entertained all the time. In fact, it's not possible until we develop the habit of moving past our distractability and dig deep enough to discover the ideas God has planted in our hearts.
It takes practice. It takes patience. And I expect it will take far longer than a one-week vacation to become a habit.
Julia Attaway is a freelance writer, homeschooler and mother of five. She is the editor of Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood, a book of devotions for first-time moms. She lives in New York.