Fear of Missing Out

Deuteronomy 34:4
Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”

It's the end of the school year when kids are showing what they've learned all year whether it be music concerts, sports competitions, or special assemblies with awards and achievements. We have been quite busy watching our kids and their friends show their talents and hard work. My oldest daughter will be a senior in high school very soon and it dawned on me that this coming school year will be filled with the "lasts" of a few things. The last concert, the last horse show, the last...

Not long ago, one of my dear friends was in her year of "lasts" with her oldest child. She would find it difficul getting through his sporting events or school achievement awards without tears. I would sometimes have to talk her down on the phone and remind her that her son was not dying or leaving her permanently and remind her to enjoy these moments. Sometimes I would think to myself, "Wow, she's really losing it, I'm kind of worried about her." I should have known better to be so concerned for her because now I find myself tearing up every time my daughter grabs her car keys and drives off by herself to her job and activities, not really needing me and looking so polished and grown.

I realized yesterday that some of my tears come from a deep seated fear I have had for years. I contend with this fear daily in other forms but I believe it's the reason we all have trouble moving on from seasons in our lives. I suffer from FOMO. FOMO is an acronym for Fear Of Missing Out. Mind you, this is not a scientific term, but one created quite possibly by social media but I'm sure if we wait long enough psychologists will adopt this condition in their diagnosis index. I hate missing out. If I am ill or overscheduled and have to miss a social event, sports competition or even church, I ache inside and often feel anxious and terribly sad. My husband often reminds me there will be another party, another horse show or another church service (they actually happen every Sunday) but I kick and stomp my feet like a four year old who misses a Chuck E. Cheese outting. As my kids grow and walk towards the edge of the nest, I feel my FOMO more than ever. I don't want to miss a thing. I know that soon, I won't see them ride those horses or hear their angelic voices singing those songs and it just about kills me.

So where's the Lord in all of this? As I prayed yesterday morning, asking God, why does my heart ache so much, He brought to mind the story of Moses. Moses was tasked with leading the children of Israel out of captivity and through the wilderness for 40 years. He was their father figure and those years weren't always beautiful but they had some amazing moments and miracles, very similar to parenting our kiddos. We wander through the wilderness with them, they complain and murmur at us and we remind them who their provider is and to straighten up and fly right. At the very end of Moses' life, his children were about to finally enter the Promised Land - a land flowing with milk and honey. The struggles were about to be over (for now). God allowed Moses to see the land but He didn't allow Him to cross into it. The Scriptures even say Moses wasn't weak or having trouble seeing at that time...so it's not like He was too ill to go, the land was just not his to possess, it was time for the next generation to move up.

I wonder if Moses had FOMO in those last moments. Was he afraid he wouldn't get to see his children work the lush fields full of beautiful produce? Did his eyes well up with tears knowing he would not be able to feast with them at harvest time? Did he feel like it wasn't fair that he had worked so hard to keep them safe for so long and deliver them to this point and God was keeping him from enjoying the results of his hard work? The Bible doesn't say so...it simply says Moses died right after God informed him he wasn't going in. Thankfully many of us don't pass away the moment our kids graduate or cross various finish lines but something in us dies. We are no longer parents of little ones and the time with them depending on us is over. We must hand them over and watch them cross into new lands of opportunity and we don't get to go with them but watch from afar.

What I realized this weekend as I prayed and asked God to take away the pain of this season is that my Fear of Missing Out is a reminder to sit in each moment and enjoy every minute, even the hard parts. Instead of focusing on these being the "lasts", I need to focus on the privelege of getting see a glimpse of what my kids are about to walk into.