The anxiety has been around long before the hashtag, but the trending #FOMO has brought to light a hidden worry—the fear of missing out.
It’s what keeps us glued to our phones, constantly refreshing feeds. It’s why we have devices strapped to our wrists that alert us as soon as new information is available. It’s why news syndicates thrive 24/7, keeping us full of the latest news and gossip.
But what happens when our fear turns into a reality? What happens when we actually miss out?
I found out recently that I didn’t get a project with a client because I had a prior family commitment. I was devastated. I sat in the car, wallowing in the feeling of a missed opportunity: What could I have done differently so I wouldn’t have missed this opportunity?
I respond to e-mails from clients as soon as I can. I keep my schedule open. I prioritize my client work. I agonize over how I can prevent myself from missing an opportunity in the future.
Feeling heavy laden
As “what if” statements ran through my mind, I began heaping more and more burden on myself—the burden to control every circumstance around me. I falsely believe that if I can plan well enough, remember everything, and act rightly, I will make sure that everything is lined up for God to do his purpose in me.
But this was never my burden to bear. Jesus reminded me of his comfort in that moment, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
So how did I take off my heavy burden in that moment? By realizing that missed opportunities are a blessing from God.
Discerning good, better, and best
In her book on discernment, All That’s Good, Hannah Anderson defines discernment as “knowing the difference between what is good and what is better.” But sometimes I don’t practice this definition of discernment. So when good opportunities pass me by, I bear the burden that, somehow, I “messed up” God’s plan. That’s why this quote from Anderson truly rocked my world:
Even if I don’t take the opportunity in front of me, God will still provide for me; His love and goodness was never dependent on my making the right choices in the first place. If His providence provided this opportunity, it can provide another.Hannah Anderson
My action or inaction can never hinder the sovereign will of God. While he has given us the free will to obey or disobey, at the same time we can never prevent him from doing what he has planned for our good and his glory.
When I miss an opportunity, instead of burdening myself with the responsibility for its loss, I can trust that it was never God’s plan for me in the first place. Even if it was because of my own sin that I failed to obtain an opportunity, God can still redeem that mistake and bring about a new opportunity as he leads me down his prepared path.
Fighting the lies
At the heart of my struggle is a small view of God. I believe that God is limited by my actions. I believe that if I miss a deadline, forget an appointment, or don’t act perfectly, he can’t work in and through me. That is a lie from Satan himself. It’s the same lie he gave to Eve, making her believe that she can be like God.
But instead of continuing to believe the lie that I can limit God, I started replacing it with truth:
Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
1 Corinthians 2:9-10, “But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him—’these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.”
Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
And as I believed those truths, I felt the burden lift, and the rest of Christ fill my soul. You can feel that same rest, too, by laying down your burden to be enough and trusting that God can redeem your inadequacies. You can let go of “good” things in faith that God has the best plan for your good and his glory. And you can fight the enemy’s lies by remember the truth of who God is and that he is writing your story.