The Original FOMO

When you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.

Jeremiah 29:12

As a millenial, I’ve faced so many of the “normal” life events that happen for us.
Especially those of us in our twenties. I have worked a job in the retail industry,
experienced college, graduated with a Bachelor degree, moved out on my own, bought
a car, been in my friends’ weddings, and am now working a full-time job in my current
field. Many accomplishments! But why am I still not happy? Why am I not satisfied? I
don’t have my dream job of working in a public school district teaching an exuberant
group of elementary school students. I don’t have all my student loans paid off. I don’t
have a full bank account. I don’t have a fiancé that I am planning to marry and start a
family with. Heck, I don’t even have a boyfriend that I can plan to have a future with. Yes,
all of that is coming from a glass-half empty attitude.

For the first few months of 2020, I’ve dwelled on the fact that my life isn’t perfect.
But what does perfect even mean? For those few months, I imagined that perfect was
having my life “together.” Having the ideal well-paying job, owning a house, planning a
wedding to a faith-filled man, beginning a family, and working on my Master’s degree –
all those things were “perfect” in my mind. Nothing about my life felt perfect for those
few months. I was in a deep, dark rut.

We may all think that we are brave, steadfast, and clear-headed in our pursuit of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven. However, we are all human. We make mistakes. We have free will. We gossip, we forget to pray or attend Mass, we have selfish acts in the material world. Just two seconds ago, I checked my phone in the middle of prayer. I was distracted from the Word by the world. That’s the deep, dark rut I was living in. I may not have begun the hole in the ground, but I took the shovel from Satan and continued to dig that deep, dark rut farther and farther away from the Word as I tried to get closer to the world. The world had shackled me in my grave.

Wishes for marriage chained my arms behind my back, desires of material goods
pinned my legs to the dark soil, and a blindfold took my gaze away from the Holy One. I
was chained in the world that Satan wanted for me, and that world is a dark place. It’s
full of unhealthy thoughts, dishonest behaviors, and has no light from Jesus Christ.

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Yes, we live in the world. There are going to be distractions. Cars honking at us
while we worship on our commute to work, text messages chiming as we try to use our
phones to read scripture, or someone calling our name while we try to pray a novena or
rosary. The power that God gives us isn’t just in free will, but in how we chose to use
our free will. Will you put down your phone to do a 30-minute workout because it’s good
for your mental and physical health? Will you step aside from Netflix to watch mass online? Will you use your daily FaceTime check in to pray with friends and family
instead of gossiping? The choice is yours.

My surrender was a panic attack. I had these quite frequently while digging my
deep dark grave. Satan had control of my emotions and thoughts. Breaking free was
painful; resulting in tears, hyperventilation, and dropping to the ground. That’s how
strong the dark one’s hold is on us. Breaking those chains is not easy. However, for
how many chains that Satan has you tied down with, Jesus Christ has 10,000 more
reasons to love you.

The choice to break free is yours, mine, and ours

Yes, we are human. We make mistakes. The Lord sees that, recognizes that,
and forgives us when we seek redemption. It’s how we use our time to redeem. If we
keep rebutting ourselves as opposed to rectifying ourselves, with the Lord’s guidance
and strength, then we will truly come to know what it means. The season of Lent is
about change, forgiveness, and redemption. Jesus didn’t just die on the cross because
he wanted a YOLO moment. He is the Original, the OG. The original FOMO.

He created the everlasting, all powerful, reckless love of our God when He died
on that cross. Now why would we want to have the fear of missing out on God’s never-
ending love for us? Is the latest episode of your favorite show going to happen faster
than what you’ve been praying for? Maybe. Is your selfie on Instagram going to get likes
quicker than God’s plan for your life unfolding in front of you? Possibly. We are human.
We are naturally subject to the desire for instant gratification. However, that episode,
those Insta likes… they are nothing compared to the long term. The delayed
gratification that results in Jesus’ plan for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “For surely I know the plans for you, says the Lord, plans
for our welfare and not to harm, to give you a future with hope.”

But, Jeremiah 29:12 also says, “When you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.”

He hears us! He hears our cries from the deep dark grave. He hears, sees, and loves us all as we are. It is who we are. He takes us as we are. Jesus is madly in love with you and me. Before you were even conceived, Jesus had your plan sculpted out. The Lord breathed into you upon your first breath. The Lord has an overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love that He is dying to share with you. We pray with Him, and He prays with us. His love is the original love. So that fear that we are missing out on… is the fear of God’s undying love for each and everyone of us.

When Jesus died on the cross for us His intention was to take all those fears, anxieties, and worries away from us. He didn’t just unlock the shackles binding us to that deep dark grave, He broke the chains! He busted open the gates of Heaven for all of us to enter His Kingdom someday. 

Right now, times are scary. When I spoke to my grandmother, I asked her if she had ever seen our country, our world, in such a panic before. She said no, not since 9/11. Even during the Cold War, I asked. She responded, even during the Cold War we were allowed to leave our homes, socialize, and enjoy life. Right now, we are secluded to our homes because of COVID-19. Some with family, some without. Some with income, some without. Some with an actual home, and food, and shelter, many without. It is indeed a terrifying time – the year 2020 is not treating us kindly right now. But you are not alone. Not only do we have each other, but Jesus is carrying us through this trying time.

In John 19:30, Jesus uttered the words “it is finished,” as He bowed His head and gave up His spirit to His Father. Jesus had the fear of missing out on the love of His Father that he died on the cross to forgive all of the world of their sins. His love is the original love. When He breathed His last breath, Jesus breathed life into us.

Is it so easy to be more of the world than of the Word. I’ve been there, saints have been there, I’m sure that Pope Francis has been there, too. We are human. However, how we choose to ultimately live out our lives is the path that Jesus wants for us. He paid it all for us, so why wouldn’t we want to repay this to Him? Sometimes we don’t feel that we deserve it. But guess what? You deserve it! He loves you 10,000 times over. So come as you are. Come as a prodigal son or daughter, to Him in prayer and in life. Seek the Word, not the world, and all will fall into place. Ask for the original love of Jesus Christ, and you won’t have to experience the fear of missing out.

Leah Hoffman is a 26 year old Special Education teacher at a private school in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, PA. She is a devout Catholic who enjoys evangelizing and volunteering with her parish. 

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