Yes, You Are Missing Out

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.

This reminds me of the children's book Wonderstruck, which I've already written about.

This reminds me of the children’s book Wonderstruck, which I’ve already written about.

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?

Sometimes we see ourselves as poor, pathetic penguins.

Sometimes we see ourselves as poor, pathetic penguins. Apparently.

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.

5 comments

  1. Do you follow Humans of New York? This makes me feel like I have missed out on cool stuff but there are also some very tragice stories.

  2. Nice post. One thing it reminded me of is the quote by C.S. Lewis:

    “He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.”

    The truth is, with God it’s impossible to miss out on anything. Sure, right here right now we may not be in front of that giggling child on the plaster horse, but if we believe for a second that one day, in His presence, we WON’T get to experience that moment, I think we’re discounting just how big God is. 🙂

    1. I love that quote! (Mostly because of the way it’s featured in Me, Myself, and Bob by Phil Vischer.)

      And I love your idea that we can experience those moments in heaven. I’d never thought about that before.

  3. Hmmm, I think you definitely pegged something here, but you’ve maybe not covered it either. When we see all those things happening to other people, and we long for them . . . is it really about fear? Maybe somewhat. But isn’t a bigger part of it about envy, about our entitlement issues? We think we deserve to have everything, to be happy all the time. We refuse to look at the joy of others and see it as the beauty of the stars in the sky (loved that image). It reminds me of this poem by George MacDonald:

    What would you see if I took you up
    To my little nest in the air?
    You would see the sky like a clear blue cup
    Turned upside downwards there.

    What would you do if I took you there
    To my little nest in the tree?
    My child with cries would trouble the air,
    To get what she could but see.

    What would you get in the top of the tree
    For all your crying and grief?
    Not a star would you clutch of all you see —
    You could only gather a leaf.

    But when you had lost your greedy grief,
    Content to see from afar,
    You would find in your hand a withering leaf,
    In your heart a shining star.

    For some reason, we have an inability to appreciate things without being a part of them. It’s so hard to take the star in our hearts rather than our hands. Funny . . . I end up with the same solution you do: focus on the Gospel. In your case, it calms fears. In mine, it humbles me and reminds me of what I’ve already been given. It restores me to my place as a grateful child delighting in her Father’s good gifts. And it helps me appreciate the gifts of others even when I don’t get to enjoy them directly.

    And that was way too long of a comment, haha. I just thought it was fun to use a different angle and end up with the same result.

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