Anyone who has known me for long could tell you that I find decisions difficult. They’d have stories of how I’ve waffled and wavered and even after I’ve made the decision I’ve second-guessed it.
You’d think with all that experience, I’d have heard the term before. But a few nights ago that gap in my education was finally filled as a young woman taught me the acronym: FOMO. She was referring to her young adult years when she and her friends went to parties they didn’t really want to go to because of Fear Of Missing Out.
Fear Of Missing Out isn’t the only reason I struggle with decisions, maybe not even the primary one, but it’s part of it. And it’s not just about parties or the symphony or an evening curled up with a book, it’s about the much bigger things in life: marriage, say, or career, or playing with the worship team. It’s about the smaller things too, the moment by moment choices to be fully present: savoring the run in the fog, the chat with a friend, the wait for the right word to come. FOMO keeps me from seeing what fits best, and FOMO keeps me from stepping confidently into the choice when I do see. FOMO forms part of the grief in letting go of good things even when I can see that what I’m being offered instead is something I want much more.
Fear Of Missing Out has its roots in the serpent’s hiss that God is holding back the best. It lives the fallacy of scarcity, making me act like a beggar child, anxiously trying to stuff not only my mouth but my pockets. The sad irony is that in letting Fear Of Missing Out decide my life, my grasping fingers and distracted attention prevent me from enjoying even the things I do receive.
So where’s the good news? Right here: the only life I need to Fear Missing Out on is the life I’m created and called to live. And, better yet, I don’t even need to Fear Missing Out on that—I just need to give God my yes—because as much as I want to live a full and beautiful life, God wants it more. He’s not interested in holding back the best. His giving—His Son, His kingdom, Himself, and my true self too—makes Herod’s “up to half my kingdom” look cheap:
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 10:24)
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
So when FOMO tries to run my life? I’m learning to remind it who my God is.