Facing the fear of missing out

Today’s guest contributor is author Kennan Buckner. Check out her bio and the link to her book at the end of the post!

I grew up with limited access to the internet, back when you had to use dial-up. In junior high and high school, I wasn’t allowed to have a MySpace account, but I did share an email account with my Dad.  

I am sure those messages were fascinating. What would a preteen have to say to friends she’d  seen a few hours before at school?   

When I was in college, friends introduced me to a relatively new thing called Facebook. My  roommate Jessica and our friend Sarah showed me how to set up my profile, and off we were  to the land of stalking fellow University of Mary Hardin-Baylor singles.  

Social media became a part of my daily life, a sort of living journal and scrapbook. Then nine  years later, in December 2016, I did something pretty radical for me. I limited my access to  social media. I removed the apps from my phone. After having a baby, choosing to stay home, leaving a job I loved, and losing my circle of work friends, social media was not a healthy  outlet.  

I did something crazy. Not only did I take social media apps off my phone, but I had my  husband Marcus block them from the Safari app (because I would look up their websites). So  for a whole year, my one source for social media was on a desktop computer in our home  office, which meant I had to plan to be on the internet. I had to plan to go to Facebook. It was  ridiculously hard to post pictures of my son because I had to send them from my phone to my  email on my computer and upload them! So much work!   

But that year, God used the mental space to break unhealthy habits in me.   

FINDING THE LIVING WATER  

Social media led to a battle with a strong case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Comparison  told me, “You are missing out on life” and “You are missing out on all these adventures.”    

Being stuck at home was not my demise. The blessing of being at home with my son was my  calling. When I finally embraced the space where I was physically present, I saw God. I was not  missing out. The truth was God called me to a different place in my life in that season. Different  from my former coworkers and many of my social media connections and friends. Constant  social-media scrolling stirred in me a discontent with the place and space I was given to  occupy. I needed to put my phone down.  

In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah, known as the “weeping prophet,” was given a  special message which finds its application in our everyday lives, too. In Jeremiah 2, he’s given  the proclamation from the Lord to remind the Israelites, God’s chosen people, what they had  with Him is what would truly satisfy them.   

In biblical times, people often built their cities around rivers or lakes because water is  necessary for survival. When a city would outgrow its water source, the people would make  massive caverns to collect rainwater. Sounds smart, right? Spiritually, the Israelites had done  the same thing. They decided their invisible God was too small. They traded authentic worship  of YHWH as prescribed to them by Moses for the false gods of the people and cultures around  them.  

These false gods were like man-made cisterns. They looked good on the outside but had no  real power to satisfy or hold water. In building their water wells, the Israelites forgot God. At its  root, the fear of missing out occurs when we forget God. 

Jeremiah 2:13 says, “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the  fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold  no water.” 

To forsake is to leave, desert, or neglect. Jeremiah says they forgot God, the source of Living  Water, then replaced Him with cisterns unable to hold water.  

Imagine their disappointment after a big rainstorm when they realized not one cistern was able  to hold water. There were leaks and unseen problems below the surface. Now, there was no  water and no provision for the future.   

ENJOY WHAT HE HAS GRACIOUSLY PROVIDED  

Did you know the only place you can be with God right now is in the present? While He is  omnipresent, able to be everywhere simultaneously, we – as finite humans – are not. Friend,  you can experience precious joy right here. Right where you are.  

The fear of missing out says:  

WHAT I AM DOING NOW…  

WHO I AM WITH NOW…  

WHERE I AM NOW…  

IS NOT IMPORTANT.  

And that’s exactly the mistake the Israelites made in their quest to satisfy a vertical need from  horizontal sources. Because the people were not satisfied by the Living Water, they were not  able to enjoy what God had graciously provided for them.   

Jeremiah 2:7 says, “And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good  things…” 

You do the same thing when you miss what’s right in front of you. Not enjoying what God has  given to you is a failure to fulfill His purpose. Like the Israelites, He brings you to plentiful land  to enjoy its fruits and its good things. When comparison blinds you or social media leads you  to envy others’ possessions or experiences, you are not enjoying what He has given you!  

Comparison leads to unfair assumptions. It lays your everyday mundane moments next to  others’ highlight reels. Comparison tells you that if life were fair, things would be equal, or if you  are honest, your situation would be a little better than someone else’s.   

Much like space and time are limited to the present, you can only please God in the present.  Right where you are, you can choose to enjoy the tasks He has given you, who you are with,  and where you are. Right now, you can please God by enjoying what He has graciously provided. 

This blog post is an excerpt from Kennan’s first book, Chin Up, about how putting down our phones can open our eyes and ready our feet to walk in God’s purpose. Available now on Amazon. Need community? Join the conversation on the Chin Up the Book Facebook  group.  

Kennan Buckner is a former editor of Katy Magazine turned stay-at-home mom and business  owner. She holds a mass communication/journalism degree from the University of Mary  Hardin-Baylor. She is an active member of the Mothers of Preschoolers group at FBC San Antonio. Kennan and her husband, Marcus, run Marken Media Co. and reside in Texas with their three children.  

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