"Wherever you are, be all there." - Jim Elliott
Do you sometimes feel like, no matter where you are, you want to be somewhere else? I do.
I was talking with a friend recently 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.
What we often don't realise is that we miss out on things every day. So, why do we fear missing out on the things we do know about? A big part of it has to do with 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 that job. It is simply not true and needs to be named for the lie that it is.
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 with wanting to be somewhere else at times when I am in certain situations. I think we all do. What this does though is rob us of what we really want: presence and intimacy.
It has been said that only in connection with God are we 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 running on the treadmill of life but never reaching what they are really looking for.
Idolises feeling good
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 man who lived about 2,000 years ago who was pretty good at relationship and intimacy. What was it that made people from all walks of life flock to Jesus? It was that he had something they wanted, something at the very core of what makes us human.
I have found that Jesus offers and brings presence. My job is to turn up and want to stay.
Nils von Kalm is from Melbourne, Australia and has a passion for showing how the Gospel is relevant to life in the 21st century. He can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/nils.vonkalm and at http://nilsvonkalm.com
Nils von Kalm's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/nils-von-kalm.html