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.
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