Just in the last few days several women have expressed to me the hurt of FOMO- fear of missing out. The situations were different and none of the perceived exclusions had been done on purpose, but each one saw relationships going on around her of which she was not a part.
Back in the day before Facebook, women who were sitting at their kitchen tables at lunch eating left-over salad from the night before used to imagine that all their friends were out having lunch without them. The fear was that everyone in their Bible study group, mom’s club or just circle of friends had decided to have lunch at the local tea shop and had forgotten, or worse, decided not, to invite her along. There was laughter among the women, flowers on the table, and fancy chicken salad on croissants, and this woman, alone with her wilted left-over salad, had been forgotten.
The truth was usually different. Mostly, there were ten women, each sitting at home alone, eating wilted left-over salad, all imagining the rest of their friends out to lunch eating fancy chicken salad sandwiches on croissants.
Things have, in one sense, only gotten worse. Now with Facebook, women can scroll through pictures of their friends at a party or gathering without them! All of their worst fears become perceived truth and FOMO turns into ROMO (the reality of missing out). The response too often is then to post a picture of oneself at a party with a different group of friends leaving out the friend who left you out of the first picture.
I’ve experienced FOMO in my own life. Gatherings of friends to which I’m not invited, weddings I would have liked to attend, groupings I would love to be a part of, even ministry events that, while I might not actually have gone or had energy to attend, would have been nice to be invited to! I mean, it’s all about the invitation, right?
Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older and wrestled through too many imagined as well as real non-invitations, the Lord has brought comfort and acceptance to my heart.
One of my favorite stories from the Old Testament is that of Mephibosheth and King David. Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan (King David’s best friend) and the grandson of Saul. When he was five years old, his nurse dropped him, leaving him crippled for life (you can read the whole story of what happened in 2 Samuel 4:4 and 2 Samuel 9), leaving him, in that culture, an outcast. In order to show honor to Jonathan, however, David invited the grown but still crippled Mephibosheth to his dinner table, a place of honor, for all the days of his life. This is a clear foreshadowing of what the Lord does for us, His broken and crippled children, making us co-heirs of the Lord’s inheritance. (Ephesians 1:11)
And that’s where I go when I’m in the throes of FOMO, because I, too, have been invited to The Table. The Lord has prepared a table before me (Psalm 23:5), He has seated me in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6) and on that day, there will be a wedding feast (Revelation 19:7) to which I’ve already received an invitation.
Until that day, though, may I open my heart to those feeling left out, grieve those times I’ve intentionally or unintentionally excluded others, and may I choose my Facebook photos with thought to those who might see. But more than anything, may I remember that I have a Lord who includes me at any table He sets. May that be enough.
No one shared the Gospel with me. A TV evangelist led me in prayer as I gave my life to Christ on my living room floor in St. Peters, Missouri on an evening in July 1996. God can use anyone.
Let me clarify. I have good reason to believe that there were people behind the scenes praying for my salvation – and that speaks to God’s faithfulness to answer prayer and bring people to Himself -- but no one specifically told me what Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension meant for me. None of it.
But while I entered the life of faith, in one sense, on my own, God most certainly did not leave me on my own.
The first woman who discipled me was the Teaching Director at the Community Bible Study group I attended as a new believer. Kitty was tall and stunning, but also shared her faith honestly. She, too, had come to know the Lord as an adult; and I was a bit in awe of her. But the Lord prompted me one day, a couple of years in, to call her (there was no such thing as texting back then) to ask her to disciple me. Her words to me still make me chuckle. “You’re very brave to ask me!” Was that pride on her part? I don’t think so. You see, she knew how I still struggled with a very low opinion of myself, was easily intimidated by others and was only bit by bit recovering from social anxiety disorder.
Kitty said yes and met with me every week for two years. She met with other people as well, but usually only every other week or even once a month. She said I was a desperate case and needed a more intense relationship. She was right.
And oh, how the Lord used Kitty in my life. Her one requirement of me was that I be in God’s Word every day and then journal daily about what the Lord was doing in my life. Then, when we met, she and I would talk about what I had been reading, how God had been showing up and how the Lord had been faithful in her own life.
Since that time, the Lord has used many people in my life, both women and men, to shape me more and more into His Image and I expect He’ll continue to do so, since I still have so far to go.
But this isn’t only my story. God calls each of us to be in community with one another, to build one another up. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul says to Timothy (and the Holy Spirit says to us), “Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” Don’t miss out on the good gift of meeting with another believer one on one. God can and does use anyone. Let Him use you.
I will confess that each year as Easter comes into view on the horizon, and Holy Week is celebrated, I often struggle.
This is my 71st Easter and sometimes, as cosmic and tragic and victorious as the whole Gospel Weekend is, I don’t feel that thrill that I remember I once felt.
I often ask the Lord, “Do it again. Make my heart stop one more time. Take my breath away.”
Please don’t let me get drowned in baby chicks and chocolate Easter bunnies. It’s hard to keep my head on straight in Walmart.
This year, He showed up big time. I’m not even sure who I was talking with about kids and parents’ unconditional love, but it led us to talking about the movie “Sophie’s Choice.” It has been a long time (1982) since I saw it, and I am NOT recommending it. But I can never forget Meryl Streep, rushing from the prison camp and being told she could only take one of her two small children on the train. Sophie had to pick one and the other would die. Horror! How can you choose!
And then I saw it, another parent had to choose between his Son and me. One of us had to die so that the other could live. The son; perfect in every way. Me; a mess.
And my Father in Heaven chose me – and his Son died.
Hosanna, this is something every child of God can say. One by one; all over the world.
Easter 2021 has taken my breath away.
And HE IS RISEN!
Here you can read perspectives on life, ministry and God's Word from a variety of PCC's female leaders.