FEAR OF MISSING OUT
Remember hearing about a slumber party AFTER the fact?
Or feeling left out of a conversation because you didn’t know the inside joke?
Or being invited to something you couldn’t attend and seeing the inordinate amount of pictures afterwards?
We don’t like to feel left out. Nothing hurts more than knowing that you aren’t included, whether it was done intentionally or unintentionally, it still stings quite a bit.
And during this season of isolation and quarantine, I’ve been experiencing a lot of FOMO. FEAR that the past 4 months have been a complete and utter waste. FEAR that this part of 2020 didn’t happen because nothing happened. Fear that 1/3 of my first year of marriage was stolen from me. FEAR that my life is lacking purpose, because I have no photos, adventures, or memories to show for it. FEAR that my current routine will forever remain my routine. FEAR that I did something horribly wrong to deserve my current situation of being a healthcare worker in the midst of a global pandemic. On social media, I see people hanging with their families, going on trips out-of-state, and having dates with their significant others, meanwhile I haven’t left my house to go on a trip in almost 3 months. And that was for a funeral. I see my co-workers more than I see my spouse, I haven’t seen my sister and her family in almost 7 months, and to top it all off, I’m an “essential” healthcare worker in the midst of a global pandemic. So people aren’t necessarily inclined to hangout with me when I’ve been around “sick” people all the day long.
I’ve reached the point in this pandemic where all I have to say is…
GO TO HELL, CORONAVIRUS!
I don’t like feeling this way. Sitting in my feelings of isolation, discontent, jealousy, anger, and discouragement. I can’t keep going through the motions like this. It’s like every time I start scrolling through Instagram or Facebook and see people enjoying themselves with their families and friends, I want to know why my life doesn’t look like theirs. Why am I in a stuffy florescent-lit hospital gowning up for patient-after-patient, while people are enjoying the beach with their families and friends. The concept of community and togetherness has never meant more to me than it does now. I’m craving real community in a deep and meaningful way. To be known and understood used to scare the pants off of me, but now that’s all I want. I’m tired of feeling these all too familiar emotions I once experienced in elementary and middle school. Knowing I’m on the outside and desperately wanting to be in. I want to stop feeling left out.
But the truth of the matter is my feelings will betray me time after time. Feelings, though they may seem like forever, are temporary. They are not a true reflection of my reality. Currently, I’m trudging through this season with a heavy yoke. I’m feeling burdened and dismayed by my current circumstances, because I’ve allowed comparison to steal my joy. I’ve allowed other people’s highlight reels to rob me of my own happiness. I may not be traveling to a romantic weekend getaway, having weeknight family dinners, training a new puppy, pregnant, buying a house, or getting my nails done, but my life doesn’t have to be like everyone else’s. My life is supposed to be MINE, Sarah Brown’s! I’m not missing out on anything except for experiencing the joy of my own life.
The fear of missing out is deeply rooted in the belief that your own life is lacking. But in James chapter 1 it says,
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
COUNT. IT. ALL. JOY. Now how often do we choose to name our blessings in the midst of difficult or uncertain times? I truly wish I did that more often. God calls us to find joy in the thick of our discomfort, because testing leads to faithfulness and faithfulness leads to trust. When we trust God, James says we will lack nothing. So maybe the problem isn’t about my family, friends, or neighbors, maybe the problem starts with ME.
I need more trust in God’s divine timing and plans.
I need to seek joy in the midst of troubling circumstances.
I need to quit comparing.
Yeah, yeah, easier said than done. But this a battlefield of the mind, and thankfully God is on your side warring WITH you. You do not have to wage this war alone. As it says in John 16:33,
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
God doesn’t guarantee us lives without difficulty, strife, of hardships, but he does promise his presence and his deep abiding peace. He has already overcome this world, so when we battle it out with the evil one, know that the victor will always be Christ. It’s funny how God continues to teach us the same lessons over and over again. Right when you thought you had conquered [jealousy, humility, fear, comparison], he places you in a situation where you learn that you still need a bit more tweaking in that department. Thankfully there is a lot of grace to go around!
May you look back on this season and find that you were growing all along. Growing in your faith, your courage, your strength, and your obedience to God. Feelings are fleeting, but joy is eternal! Don’t let this time of coronavirus, quarantine, or self-isolation steal your joy.