I’ve been feeling pretty bored and listless lately, and I’ve been complaining about my life being “lackluster and dull.” I wish instead that I could just be grateful right now that there isn’t too much going on and I can take a breather. — Because sometimes when life is “interesting,” it doesn’t mean that we welcome the drama and upheaval: take, for instance, a seemingly irreconcilable conflict with a friend or family member; the death of a spouse, parent, child, other loved one; the accidental pregnancy; a divorce or a breakup; the loss of a job; the dissolution of a church or community; the revelation of scandal or corruption; an eviction notice; a diagnosis of cancer. So, not surprisingly, when someone says, “never a dull moment,” they say it wryly. I have rarely heard that phrase used in conjunction with, say, winning the lottery or falling in love.

I caught myself complaining to a friend about how dull my life is, and at the same time I was updating her on what had been happening in my life over the past 2 months. And then I listened to what was coming out of my mouth, took a step back, and thought, My life isn’t boring at all. What am I saying? A lot, both good and bad, is going on. Why am I bored?

I think my sense of ennui is a luxury of the middle and upper classes. And I think it’s fueled by consuming a lot of other people’s stories, true or fictional. These stories set an unrealistic expectation of what life should hold and make me into an adrenaline junkie. This is why  I think some people are addicted to the news and current events — it’s sort of an anticipation of what earth-rending, shocking event is going to happen next? But the problem is, after a while, when everything is shocking, we become desensitized and nothing feels shocking anymore. Fiction — conveyed through books, TV shows, film, social media, etc. — also feeds this need for the adrenaline rush.  The problem is these media compress our sense of time. So what realistically may take months or years to unfold, may take place and be resolved in a two-hour full-length motion picture.

All of this sets us up to overlook, take for granted, and perhaps even denigrate and mess up our own stories. This is because, compared to the tidy 20-minute sitcom, our lives don’t unfold at the same pace. We think we should fall in love instantaneously with the person sitting next to us on the bus, or the job of our dreams should fall into our laps effortlessly, or our kids all of a sudden resolve all of their rebellious teenage issues and become model citizens. When this doesn’t happen, it’s very very disappointing. And then because our lives seem dull, we then try to do things to provoke an adrenaline high and intentionally introduce drama into our lives. Sometimes this is fine, and other times can be disastrous. There’s a difference between trying out sky diving once for kicks versus getting addicted to it. Of course, there are the usual suspects like gambling addictions, substance abuse, etc. But I’ve also seen a lot of single friends get involved in bad relationships. I’ve seen people quit and take new jobs that were as bad or worse than their previous jobs.

I have to take a realistic lens to stories I consume.  I just watched 8 seasons of this one show that I like a lot. I feel like I’m almost living vicariously through it. But if I scrutinize it, it’s totally unrealistic. The male lead character is a really lovable, good-looking, rich, sweet guy who reforms himself from his lifestyle of hot women and fast cars, as he faithfully waits years for the female lead character to warm up to him. He also has been an amazing dad to his loving teenaged daughter, from a previous marriage. He has never known his dad –but then finds out his dad is a CIA agent. The female lead looks like a model, is able to chase bad guys in 4-inch heels, and is absolutely brilliant and totally moral and upstanding. They both have haunted pasts which they resolve in the 8-season arc of the show. They both almost die multiple times.Of course they end up getting together and getting married. UNREALISTIC.

So… what’s the upshot of all this? There’s a fine art to letting our lives unfold naturally and loving our own stories, and knowing when to take the reins and do something different. How do we trust God with our story? There’s no exact formula here, but I hope that somehow I can notice what’s going on in my story and change my mindset about what defines excitement and piques my interest. God moves in such subtle ways that it’s easy to not take notice.