The fear of missing out. We all have it. You’re reading this now because you either knowingly relate so hard to the title that you are hoping for a self-help post on how to get over this, or you subconsciously fear not knowing what’s behind any and every link on your [insert social media here] stream. It’s ingrained in each of us from birth.
As toddlers we throw temper tantrums to avoid taking our naps because we are just terrified that we will miss something important in this great big world.
Puberty hits and for the rest of our lives we fork out hundreds of dollars on clothes that trend out in six months. Make up. Cars. Houses. We want what everyone else has. With no regard to the fact that maybe they are swimming in debt trying to keep up with the illusion of normal or cool.
People can no longer last in relationships because they are convinced that there is something better out there. That there is always something better out there. Now all we need to do is swipe right to find the next fling. How has even our capability for intimacy fallen victim to our short attention spans?
There is always somewhere exciting to go, and where ever there is, it usually isn’t here. Now we can see who is ‘Interested‘ or ‘Going‘ to events with the click of a button. It fills our imaginations with how grand our friends’ lives must be. With a concert, brunch, festival, or sale around every corner, it is impossible to keep up. Though our lives are full and we are already too busy to manage, we feel unsatisfied because we are constantly staring at the green grassy field over there.
In the last seven days I have spent 6 hours on snapchat, 4.5 hours on facebook, 7.5 hours texting, 3.4 hours on instagram, 1.9 hours on groupme, and 1.1 hours on twitter. And that’s just on my phone. (That’s a total of 24.4 hours for those wondering.)
It’s like when I open the refrigerator door again hoping something new will be there. Facebook doesn’t change. Y’all are still posting pictures of your adorable babies, counting down to your weddings or beach trips, complaining NONSTOP about Hilary or Trump or something that a stranger did five thousand miles away that somehow offended you. There is no reason I should’ve spent 4.5 hours looking at y’all. Even while I’m with friends if there is a lull in the evening or if I’m waiting in line anywhere I’m on my phone. Why do we do this!?!
Why are we so involved in all the things that have little or nothing to do with us while ignoring all the important things around us? Instead of scrolling hashtags I could be nurturing the relationships that matter most.
None of these things are inherently bad. It’s the priority that we give them that makes them unhealthy. In society we see the highlight reels of everyone’s lives around us. In our recent study Comparison Trap, Andy Stanley pointed out that we compare and envy tiny pieces of everyone else’s lives, comparing their parts to our whole. We will never measure up. Instead of focusing on inequality we need to zone in our energy on opportunity.
Maybe we fill every gap in our calendar and every hanger in our closet because the alternative is just to be still and face the silence. Just be alone with our thoughts and face whatever inner-demons we have left to attend to. In the silence you learn yourself. In the silence you find out who your god is. And while you fear missing out on all those fun things, you fear finding out these vulnerable, intimate things even more.
God, the one, true, 100% real God, who created heaven and earth and knows us each better than we will ever know ourselves. This God, who can direct the storms and make mountains move. He has the power to do it all. To write our names in the stars to catch our attention if He would like. But this God chooses to meet us in the silence. (1 Kings 19) Often times in the wildernesses, or tribulations of our lives, after we’ve tried everything else in our pursuit of happiness, He is waiting patiently to whisper to us, to comfort us, to hold us and protect us. He doesn’t care what we wear, how many concerts we go to, if we are republican or democrat, or how many hours we’ve just wasted on the internet. He is love. He is good. He longs for us to delight in Him and know true joy. And if we don’t take a break from the chaos and look up, the only real thing we have to fear is missing out on knowing Him.
“BE STILL, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (emphasis added) Psalm 46:10
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
“I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13
“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Mark 1:35