We live in such a wild time. Right? Now “mundane” parts of life were unthinkable 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. Self-driving cars, robots taking care of business, and instant access to almost anyone, anytime, from anywhere, just to name a few. It’s the world we live in. (And, that world can be quite overwhelming!) While we can argue there is nothing new under the sun, in many ways, different times magnify parts of the human condition.
Case in point: FOMO, the fear of missing out. This sensation has always existed. It is comparison, jealousy, lust, and even the fear that God’s plans for our life might not be as beautiful as His plans for someone else. The barrage of information from social media, the news, television, and constant internet access only serves to magnify the issue. The innate human tendency of analyzing one’s life when confronted with someone (or everyone) else’s, is now in overdrive. This is because we see personal details of a best friend, an acquaintance, a friend from elementary school that we didn’t really talk to then and haven’t spoken to since, a famous person we will never meet, or for goodness’ sake, the President's life! With two clicks and almost no effort, we can literally see inside a stranger’s home, relationship, vacation, car, and backyard! When you think about it, it’s weird and a little creepy and usually not very helpful.
We could dissect that all day. Though, I want to talk about a different kind of FOMO. Instead of considering the fear of missing out on exclusive social gatherings, or shiny trips, or romanticized experiences, I want to discuss the fear of missing out on our desires. By desires, I mean to include the things we are still working towards, the things we believe God has promised for our future, and even the parts of our lives we cherished but are no longer.
Perhaps, you are single and desire to be married. You wonder how, and if, and for the love- when! Maybe a significant relationship recently ended, and you are having a hard time moving past it. Your mind hopelessly finds its way back to the details of the no-longer relationship, despite your efforts to move forward. Or, you are working towards a professional promotion, faithfully plugging away with laser-focus on when you will finally reach your goal. Maybe you are a mom of little ones, feeling like you are just buying time until they sleep through the night, are potty-trained, or go to bed! Marriage, jobs, and sleep are all good things (amen); but if we choose to focus more on the next thing (or last thing), than the thing right in front of us, we will miss our lives.
All too often we fall prey to believing that if we let go of something, it is lost forever. This belief leads to spinning our wheels trying to hold onto everything we have ever attained, while furiously working for all that we still hope to achieve, meanwhile completely missing what is right in front of us!
It’s as if we are little kids trying to carry all their favorite toys at once. Their small hands grab their beloved stuffed animal, shiny ball, sippy cup, blanket, and of course, a snack. They struggle and drop one thing after another as they try to make their way across a room. Their hands simply weren’t meant to hold all of those great things at the same time. Refusing to hold the very thing they want to enjoy in the present moment prevents them from enjoying anything at all. Yet, to focus on one thing inevitably means setting down all the others things.
Umm, even as an adult, I do this all the time! I’m afraid to let go of what was beautiful in my last season, or what I still hope will be in a future season. I’m worried I will miss out. Though, if I choose this path, I will miss more of my life than I will enjoy. Right? If my focus is holding on to the past or working towards the future, will I ever be present in my present?
Could we follow God in such a way that we can trust His good leadership with our timelines? Believing that if He says today is about X, it doesn’t mean that Y, Z, and A and B are lost. Though, it does mean laying them down so that we can fully invest in X. Just like a toddler, our “hands” aren’t big enough to carry everything at once.
The antidote to this FOMO is ironic. Only in whole-heartedly laying down all of our “not rights nows” can we enjoy all that is. Freedom to run and play in today's beauty- be it mundane pleasures or extravagant ones, only comes if we embrace today.
May we let go of all that isn’t our reality today, trusting we won’t miss out! Oh, how the opposite is true! It is in releasing all that isn’t, that we truly enjoy all that God has for us! Friend, He is good and has good plans for you. You can trust that He sees you and knows every detail of your life, including your desires. Look that FOMO in the face and say, “not today,” freeing yourself to embrace today!