Trusting God with the Feeling of Missing out

Trusting God with the Feeling of Missing Out

Kara Lacy

Many of us are all too familiar with the elusive term “FOMO,” or the “fear of missing out”. If you’ve never heard the term, you at least probably know the feeling. 

You’re together with family enjoying each other’s company. In a lull of the conversation, you pull out your phone and instinctively open social media. Two smiling faces appear. It’s your close friends. Out to lunch. Without you. And suddenly, I wish I was anywhere but here!

Though the term “FOMO” only made it to the Oxford Dictionary in 2013, in my opinion, its roots go back to the beginning. This joy-killing feeling has roots in comparison, fear, envy, and discontentment. All things that chip away at our trust in God and make us question His goodness. 

I’ve reflected on this a lot in recent seasons of my life. Observing it in my own life and sniffing traces in the world around me. But, over time, I started smelling a new brand. Something deeper and wider – an unbearable extension of these underlying themes (comparison, fear, envy, and discontentment). 

Then someone coined it – “FOBO”. Fear of a better offer. The crippling feeling that there could always be something better. The ever-present, crushing insecurity of “don’t commit now – what if something better exists?” Usually not knowing what, who, where, or when… just knowing it could be there…somewhere…or could it be?

As a young adult, I feel this pressure regularly. It may come in the form of a LinkedIn job post, a photo of a peer abroad, a conversation with a friend whose life looks very different than mine. Suddenly, I wonder if I am possibly missing out on something better… or worse, what if I already did?

So, this is (finally!) where I hope to encourage. How can I trust God when it feels like there is always a possibility that I’m missing out? When that wave of discontentment washes over us or when that small whisper of doubt creeps in that maybe God has held out on us after all. 

Paul encourages the church in Philippi by saying, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

And to his young mentee, Timothy, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

And to the church in Galatia, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

King David writes on a similar note many years before:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me? (Psalm 56:3)

I think the key is to give God thanks, and to believe that He is good and trustworthy. To turn our minds from the lurking “what if’s” and “if only’s” and to instead, focus on God Himself, and to be grateful. That He loves us, that He gave Himself for us. That He is always good. And that He is not the one giving us this spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).

I’ve always loved the ends of the epistles. Those last verses we usually skim right through. I love to pause and consider these early brothers and sisters, doing the ordinary, normal, often non-glamorous work of loving God and loving His bride, the Church. Here are two examples from the close of Romans and Colossians, respectively (emphasis added).

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.” (Romans 16:1-8, 13-14)

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.” (Colossians 4: 12-16) 

These named people remind me that real brothers and sisters in the early church chose the path of living in community, serving, praying, hosting, nurturing, and working hard for one another. Though these are not always the flashy and exciting activities that end up with tons of likes on social media, I thank God for the example they set for us all.

As young adults, it seems like we often feel that the bravest thing we can do is to always be open to the next thing. Stay uncomfortable. Take the plunge! My reflection is that oftentimes, the braver thing to do is to commit, possibly even to the boring. Be rooted. Be known by a community. Share life. For a while. 

And above all, be grateful that He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

Written by Kara Lacy

Kara has been a member at Park Road for a little over 2 years. Kara’s husband, Jonathan, is on staff as our Director of Youth Ministry, and the two of them serve our 6th-12th graders weekly through bible study, fellowship, and general friendship.