I’ve been told that I’m a fomo. There are worse F-words to be called, but for some reason it still doesn’t quite sound like a compliment. The “Fear of Missing Out” (F-O-M-O…get it?) often causes me to engage socially when I’d really rather stay home, or even just be by myself. Even though my introverted nature causes me to get easily worn out by large groups, I can struggle to pull myself away from a group of people that I enjoy, even when what my body and spirit needs is just to be alone. Heaven forbid people could have a good time without me there! I don’t want to miss out on the fun, connection, and life that I easily assume others are experiencing when I’m not around them.
My fomo tendencies play out in other areas of my life as well:
I say yes to invitations to get drinks with girlfriends when I’m exhausted because I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to spend time with women I love and crave connection with.
I commit to projects I don’t really have time or energy to complete because I don’t want to miss out on the chance to use my passions and gifts to accomplish something significant.
I’m currently putting a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to choose just the right preschool for my daughter because I don’t want her to miss out the best schooling experience she can possibly have. (Are you kidding me? It’s preschool. It. Doesn’t. Matter.)
My fear of missing out on the life I hope to live often causes me to miss living fully in the life I’m actually living.
I went on a short hike yesterday with a few beautiful friends who I rarely get to see. We spent the weekend gathering together in hopes of learning to be still and listen to the voice of God in all its creative forms. I’m a closet hiker—I don’t ever do it, but when I do have a chance to walk through nature, my soul feels alive. (Side note: why don’t we do the things that bring our souls to life more often? Like, all the time! We need to fight for the things that bring us back to life, and relentlessly cut out the things that kill our souls…but I think that’s a topic for another time.)
There is a long staircase built into the side of the hill where we were staying, with a resort at the top. (I know what you’re thinking…who gets to stay at a resort with girlfriends for the weekend?! Seriously, I’m the luckiest girl ever. I’m aware.) As I was walking down this beautiful staircase taking us down a steep hill to the river below, I kept finding myself looking at my feet to make sure I wasn’t going to trip on the next step. There was a handrail on both sides, and I started to grab it so that I could keep up with my friends at the same time as I looked out at the majestic view of the valley all around me. I had to choose either to walk fast enough to keep up or to be present in the wonder that surrounded me.
In that moment, as I was torn between grabbing the handrail to be able to look out at the view and looking at my feet to keep from falling down the stairs, the thought came into my mind, “If you slow down, you won’t miss a thing.” At a time when I’m learning to trust those life-giving answers to my internal questions as the voice of God, I decided to listen. I let the people behind me pass by as I slowed to a pace that allowed me to walk without holding on, while also having the freedom to look up and notice what was right in front of me. There were animal footprints pressed into the cement in the stairs, there were tree-covered mountains surrounding us on every side, the air was fresh and clear, the sun was shining brightly without wind, there was a peacefulness about the morning—and I was able to just drink it in because I wasn’t in a hurry to get down the stairs.
My life has been far too hurried in the past couple months. Maybe I’m just that much more aware of our frenzied pace because of its sharp contrast with the time were able to slow down as a family while Corey was on sabbatical this winter. Maybe I’m just afraid that if I say no to opportunities that excite me today, there won’t be another chance to live the life I hope for in the future. (There’s that fomo thing again. Dang.) Either way, I think there is deep truth that God is showing me in my tiredness from trying to fit too much into too little time: winning the race does not require running it fast.
There is beauty that constantly surrounds us and we can’t see it if we’re sprinting full steam ahead—instead, all that we notice is how tired we feel. We become consumed by keeping up with (or beating) those who are running beside us. We focus more on getting to the end than enjoying the race, because taking time to look around during a sprint might cause us to lose our footing and even collide with those who are also trying to run as fast as they can. I sensed God telling me during this past weekend spent with others who yearn to live the life they are created for, that faster isn’t better, Jillian. Slow down so you don’t miss a thing on the path you’re walking. Just enjoy the scenery and delight in the process of “going”—don’t be in a hurry, just be on the lookout.
I’m writing this as a reminder to myself, because I am painfully aware of my forgetfulness. I forget things daily, from the things that weren’t on my grocery list to what I was supposed to be grabbing from the other room—I even legitimately forgot my own age a couple weeks ago! (I thought I was way too young for that…but my husband reminds me often and lovingly that I am not as young as I think I am.) Yet, I don’t want to forget these moments of utter clarity, where I am able to see my life and purpose in a way that changes the way I want to live out my days. I don’t want to forget God’s sheer goodness, to me and in who he is. I don’t want to forget that I am created to reveal God and his love to the world, that his beauty is everywhere, and that I’ll explode if I keep what I see of him to myself!
May we all have eyes to see the beauty and goodness of God displayed in the world he created, the people he placed bits of himself inside, and in the endless creativity of all the ways he reveals himself to anyone willing to look.