When my son was a baby, it was a challenge putting him to sleep. We knew he was tired. He knew he was tired but he did not want to close his eyes and rest. He fought sleep as if it were an enemy.
His father and I used to joke that he didn’t want to sleep because he thought he was missing out on something that happened after he went to bed. We joked that he thought there was a party to which he wasn’t invited…
Imagine my surprise 10 years later when I found out that fear of missing out (FOMO) was actually a thing. Yes, I know, I’m beyond fashionably late.
As human beings, one of our greatest fears seem to be that we don’t want to lose out on a good thing. Because of that, we cram our plates full with food, activities, books and the list goes on.
But why is FOMO such a bad thing? Doesn’t it make you work harder?
See, the thing is, it doesn’t. Fear of missing out leads to overwhelm and envy. Because we don’t want to lose out on anything, we take on more than we can reasonably handle. Then we start feeling stressed.
We may hyperventilate or procrastinate – all of which leads to more stress as we start feeling bad about ourselves. We try to master every thing and end up doing nothing well. As the saying goes: Jack of all trades, master of none.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17 NKJV
It’s a commandment for a reason. Back in the Garden of Eden, Eve thought that she was missing out because she wasn't supposed to eat the forbidden fruit. Satan got her to shift her focus from all the other trees that she could have eaten from. Under his tutelage, she fixated instead on the one thing she could not have.
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That’s why fear of missing out is such a bad thing. Oh, it’s a sneaky one. It doesn’t feel like a bad thing, but it can be a source for discontent. How can we learn to be satisfied if we’re always thinking about what we don’t have?
How can we be thankful if we believe that God is withholding something good from us?
So, how do we beat this FOMO?
It’s about focus.
The writer of Hebrews told the recipient of his letter that they were surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. But even with that crowd, they should focus on Jesus. Having peers that have successfully achieved what we hope to, is great. But the thing about looking at other persons is that they’re not perfect. They may have done well in one area but fell down in another. Our nature is such that we will snag on that one point and use it to wander into sin.
In Jamaica, I hear a lot of men say that it’s okay to have relationships with multiple women at the same time because Solomon did it and he was the wisest man on earth. They use Solomon’s sin as a justification for their own sinful actions.
These men have not delved into the life of Solomon to realize that it was those multiple relationships that led Solomon to sin against God. Solomon’s many women resulted in a greatly reduced inheritance for his son. The love of women caused the wisest man on earth to act like a fool.
That’s why we need to focus on Jesus’ perfect example. He is the only Person who lived perfect life. When your FOMO starts kicking in, focus on your fear of missing out on heaven and return to the God who loved you enough to give up His life for us.
Challenge: What is the thing that you fear missing out on most?