FOMO is “the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out.” VIA
It’s a living, breathing, active animal… would you agree? Maybe you’ve encountered this animal in you, maybe you haven’t. The fruit of its presence is often envy, discontentment, jealousy, shame or sadness.
Here’s what others have said:
“Stop paying so much attention to how others around you are doing” is easy advice to give, but hard to follow, because the evidence of how others are doing is pervasive, because most of us seem to care a great deal about status, and finally, because access to some of the most important things in life (for example, the best colleges, the best jobs, the best houses in the best neighborhoods) is granted only to those who do better than their peers. Nonetheless, social comparison seems sufficiently destructive to our sense of well-being that it is worthwhile to remind ourselves to do it less.” Barry Schwartz, via
Paul Dolan wrote, “Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention. What you attend to drives your behavior and it determines your happiness. Attention is the glue that holds your life together.” VIA
An especially convicting one to me is from Darlene McLaughlin, “The problem with FOMO is the individuals it impacts are looking outward instead of inward. When you’re so tuned in to the ‘other,’ or the ‘better’ (in your mind), you lose your authentic sense of self. This constant fear of missing out means you are not participating as a real person in your own world.” VIA
These people may or may not be Christians, I don’t know, but if you are a follower of Jesus, you know that in God’s economy things work differently than this world’s. That being said, I pose to you what the Holy Spirit posed to me recently: What if you made choices out of fear of missing out on God instead of fear of missing out on what others deem significant?
In all honesty, FOMO sneaks up on me not along paths of a friend’s travel adventures or home decor or even if friends hang out without me. My FOMO animal comes in the form of popular and effective Christian voices. Because of technology and social media, I have access, though not complete (because we’re not actual friends), to their lives and ministry, their work and the personality they choose to share online. While a good thing in many ways, it stops being good when it becomes an avalanche I can’t keep up with but am afraid to stop.
Following Jesus means making choices that cultivate closeness with Him, because He is life. He tells me to abide in Him is how I operate productively and fruitfully for the Kingdom. He tells me He is with me. He tells me in His presence is the greastest of joy.
Shauna Niequist, in her book Present over Perfect, challenges, “Be careful how much of yourself you give away, even with the best of intentions. There are things you cannot get back, things that God has not asked you to sacrifice.”
What if I could learn to trade FOMO on another human’s life or words to FOMO on the Lord?
What if I considered being with God worth more than being with someone not in my community through their podcast or Instagram stories?
Hear me, I’m not hatin’ on podcasts and social media. I actually really dig them both. But I am not really living if a desire to know more about so-and-so’s life (even their life with God) is more important than cultivating my own life with Him and becoming the person He created me to be.
One of my favorite books is about the presence of God. Brother Lawrence said it was a “shameful thing to quit His conversation, to think of trifles and fooleries,” and that “there needed neither art nor science for going to GOD, but only a heart resolutely determined to apply itself to nothing but Him, or for His sake, and to love Him only.” VIA
Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.Brother Lawrence
Whatever your FOMO animal is, we have to start considering what it is costing us. What is costing you peace, joy, rest or clarity? How much energy do you spend indulging, wrestling, and caring for your FOMO animal? What would your heart and mind be like if you gave that energy to your relationship with God?
Science Direct defined FOMO as “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent, FoMO is characterized by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing.”
May we learn the way of Jesus, who lived attentive to His Father, confident and obedient in His calling, fully present to the person, need and beauty in front of Him, and not be satisfied with missing out on God.