“Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliott
Do you ever have the attitude that, no matter where you are, you want to be somewhere else? I do.
A friend and colleague of mine has been talking a bit lately about FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. It is the disease of the age. There are so many options in our lives these days, so many things to do, people to see and places to go, that we suffer from choice anxiety.
What this results in is an attitude of “keeping our options open” so we don’t miss out. But in the meantime, we end up not really experiencing anything properly because of our fear of committing.
It is no loss to us when we sacrifice something for the good of something else. We may end up making mistakes in our choices but that is part of life. It doesn’t make us any less worthy as people.
Without realising it, we miss out on things every day. So, why do we have a fear of missing out on the things we do know about? I blame the culture of advertising. The very nature of advertising is to create a felt need inside us that isn’t really there. The purpose of advertising is to keep us perpetually unhappy, to tell us that our life would be complete if only we had this product, this relationship or this job. It’s crap and it needs to be named for that.
I have struggled throughout my life to be present in relationships with people. I think I’m a pretty good listener, but it has come at great effort. I still struggle though with wanting to be somewhere else at times when I am in certain situations. I think we all do. This attitude though robs us of what we really want: presence and intimacy.
Richard Rohr talks a lot about being present. He says that it is only in connection with the Divine Presence that we are able to be present for others. This is where meditation and contemplation is so crucial to our wellbeing. The term “mindfulness” is very trendy these days. More and more people are getting into having intentional times of being still because they are tired of the dog-eat-dog rat race that our culture long ago became.
We live in a culture that idolises feeling good. When we succumb to the pressure of the prevailing spirit of the culture (and who wouldn’t, given that studies say we are bombarded with literally thousands of advertisements every day!), it is then that FOMO sets in. And when FOMO sets in, who wants to be still and meditate when there is something we could be missing?
The irony of all this is that our fear of missing out actually drives what we really miss out on. When we want to be everywhere but where we are, we miss out on stillness, serenity and real relationship and intimacy with people.
There was a bloke who lived about 2,000 years ago who was pretty good at this. What was it that made people from all walks of life flock to Jesus? It was because he had and offered something that they wanted, something at the very core of what makes us human. My own experience is that Jesus offers and brings presence. My job is to be turn up and want to stay.