You are, right at this moment, missing out on thousands of wonderful things.
Somewhere a kid is riding a carousel in the mall for the first time, giggling so loudly that the middle-aged woman on her phone in the food court looks over and smiles. Somewhere, an artist is at work and old friends are catching up over coffee and a mom is stroking the cheek of her sleeping child.
Right now, chances are that someone you know is doing something brave, eating a delicious meal with more calories than your weekly paycheck, falling in love, hitting the high note in a their favorite song, or hugging an adorable little puppy in the sunshine.
There are more amazing people than you will ever have a chance to meet, more great books than you will be able to read, more places than you can ever go. So we wish and make Pinterest boards and sigh and long for more time, usually as we waste the time we’ve been given. We’re jealous of what others have and who they are and what they’re experiencing that we are not.
This, friends, does not make sense. Those things I talked about…they are beautiful. The fact that they’re going on without me doesn’t make them any less lovely. When I go on Facebook, and all the names and faces and stories should make me feel small, but in a good way, the way I feel when I look up at the stars, in awe of the beauty and complexity around me.
Right. Of course. This makes sense. That’s what I should feel.
And yet…most of the time, I don’t.
Maybe it’s because my life is not always full of thousands of wonderful things, or at least, it doesn’t feel like it. When I see—especially on social media—others being happy when I am not, somehow their joy feels like a threat. Who are they to have so many friends or write something so witty or be so photogenic when I could barely get out of bed this morning?
Or maybe it’s the sense of being excluded. Fear of missing out now even has its own acronym: FOMO. It must be a thing; it has an acronym. But it makes me wonder: What are we afraid of? What are we really afraid of?
Because it’s not missing out, I don’t think. At least, it’s not just that.
We’re afraid that there’s a limited amount of joy, and that if that person over has a lot of it, there won’t be any left for me.
We’re afraid that if no one is listening to or liking our Facebook statuses, then maybe no one is listening to our prayers either.
We’re afraid of not being invited. We’re afraid of being alone. We’re afraid that no one really knows us, and we’re afraid if we let someone get to know us, they’ll see the ugliness of who we are and run away, and we’ll be worse off than when we started.
There is a deep, 3-AM-doubt corner of us that wonders if we are even worthy of being loved, by other people and by God.
There. I have put them in words, the fears I try not to think about. That helps.
But what do I do now?
I pray over these fears, and I pray against them. I treat them like the enemies they are instead of inviting them in for coffee every few hours.
I look at my fears and I say they are lies, and then I replace them with the truth. Joy is a choice. God is listening—have I been listening lately? I am not alone. And above all: Jesus Christ makes me worthy.
That should replace the question of whether I deserve to be loved or invited or happy, every single time. That’s the distinctive of the Christian faith: grace when I don’t deserve anything at all.
If you’ve ever heard the vague, churchy-sounding phrase, “Put your identity in Christ,” this is at least part of what it means. It means reminding yourself, over and over, louder than your newsfeed, that you are worthy because of Jesus.
Remember that, and all the other things you’re missing out on might not seem that important.