The Struggle of FOMO

Written by Melissa Campbell

The first time I heard the term FOMO I was clueless as to what it meant. Of course, I was around a group of students who were a part of Generation Z (born in the year 2000 or later) so naturally I was lost. As adults, aren’t we all lost most of the time? Do we not live in a constant state of striving to understand the generation before and after us? If we were being honest, the answer is yes.

If you’re worried, there is no need to worry anymore. We have Google (or Siri, or whichever you prefer). In this moment, I opted for Google, which gave me the answer I had been looking for. FOMO means “fear of missing out”.

The moment you read this definition, your mental light switch turns to the on position. You begin to form a list of things you missed out on. Whether in your recent history or past life experience, every living, breathing human can identify with the FOMO. For you, maybe it’s the latest iPhone upgrade, your neighbor’s swimming pool or your coworker’s six figure salary. Or, how about a broken friendship or ex-lover who recently got engaged? Whatever is scrolling in your mind, the root of your entire list is fear.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, “fear is an unpleasant emotion that is caused by a belief.”  Some of those “unpleasant emotions” include anxiety, worry, panic, unrest, doubt and dread. Each one of these are vicious enemies of contentment. What is contentment?

The Apostle Paul clearly states what is the true measure of contentment in 1 Timothy 6: 1. In the passion translation, he states that we (all of mankind) are called to “chase after true holiness, justice, faithfulness, love, hope and tender humility.”  Wait! Fear wasn’t a part of that list! But, faithfulness was? Why? Because faith and fear fight to occupy the same area in our heart and mind. When we take our eyes off of Jesus and envelope our thoughts in what we appear to be missing, fear kicks faith out of the room.

So, what do we do when fears kicks faith out of the room, when we are consumed by the number of people who follow us on Instagram or like our statuses on Facebook? Do we immediately purchase the latest self-help book or register for a seminar on “how to live my best life now?”

No.

We stop, look and listen.

Stop – Each day STOP to take a gut-honest inventory of what consumes the quiet moments in your day. Brian Johnson from Bethel Worship said it like this, “What is your vice, the action that is so natural that you do not realize you’re leaning on it for reprieve from responsibility?” Moderation is good. It is necessary. But, if you do not acknowledge the frequency at which you depend on something or someone, how can you begin to exercise a healthy level of interaction?

Look – Make the decision to actively LOOK UP. So often, our heads hang low because we are caught up in the tasks of life – paying bills, doing the dishes, maintaining a perfectly manicured lawn or running the kids to their next recital or sports practice. None of these things are bad; but, they can blur our vision and quickly crowd out our assignment to actually share the Good News of the Gospel with the people around us. This is the Great Commission!

Listen – Train your heart to LISTEN for the Holy Spirit’s voice (see Proverbs 2:2). Question – when was the last time you were not being devoured by noise? If you don’t think this is real, flash back to the last time you were in a public place. A coffee shop or grocery store.. What was one of the first things you heard? Noise. We literally drown out the very voice that was given to us, as a gift, to guide us. To truly walk in the promises of God, we must turn down or even fully shut off the noise around us so that we can continue to overcome fear with faith. For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Every day before we cross the street, whether by foot or by car, we do this exact thing. Each of us stop, look and listen. What if we, collectively as the people of God, did the very same thing in our daily routines?  In moments where we are unsure of ourselves or are endlessly scrolling through the highlight reel of our pseudo-friends, what if we removed the noise around us so that the Guide within us was able to stoke our fire of faith and dispel the rising smoke of fear?

 

Melissa Campbell is the director of Upward Sports and serves in the children’s ministry at Allison Park Church.