Our progress through life means that we will probably be humbled at some point. Getting older is a humbling process as we let go of things that we have always identified ourselves with. In our culture we can be guilty of treating the elderly as if they are a bit inept, especially with technology. That they need to be kept safe, tucked away from the rest of the population who are getting on with life. Fear of missing out (FOMO) becomes a reality as we age – we really will miss out. But fear of missing out is a phrase that is hiding jealousy and pride. And humility is more than a lesson, it is where we need to be with our attitude as followers of Christ. The banquet etiquette that Jesus describes in Luke chapter 14 verses 7 to 11, remind us of God’s heart for us:
7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honoured in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Old age moves us to the tucked away places at the table, the humiliating places, the least important places, but Jesus’ promises are for the humble of heart. God looks into our hearts – we are to serve and not be proud, to love and help others is the heart of the gospel and what God plans for us. As I reflect on this passage, I know that fear of missing out is about a spirit that competes and knocks others out of the way because missing out is for weaker people. And I am not going to be left behind! It is a proud attitude that puts oneself first. It is the opposite of what Christ likeness I am required to have. It is an attitude that doesn’t forgive – that goes back to the fear, that we try to leave at the foot of the cross. However, we pick it up again. Inspect it. Remember. Feel the pain again. And again. And this fear does not let go. It is afraid to let go. Why are we afraid to let go of our fears? Or pain. Is this also fear of missing out?
I will put that pain, that hurt, my fear at the bottom of the cross again. And I will take a souvenir. Just in case I miss out. Maybe my fear of missing out is fear of losing the right to hold onto that pain. I do not want to miss out on that self-righteous anger or self-pity. I do it all of the time. Fear of missing out is about my pride. And the antidote is to know my spiritual poverty. As Jesus said in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven’. As I journey through my life, my spiritual poverty is increasingly evident. It is a chance to recognise that all of us are so very in need of grace, forgiveness and the love of God in our lives. As we know, perfect love casts out all fear. The only perfect love I know of is God’s love.
So, each day let us practice FOMO. Not as the world knows it, fear of missing out, but rather as a new acronym – forgive others and move on. Include yourself. Leave the fear, the pride, the hurt at the bottom of the cross. Each day take it to the Lord. Leave your pride there and live humbly as you submit yourself to God’s sovereignty in your life. And it takes each day. Each slow step of your journey to inch ourselves forward as we leave our FOMO spirit of pride and fear behind. I cannot change the past, but I can put on the armour of God today and leave my fear and pride at the foot of the cross. I want to practice the new FOMO – forgiving others and moving on. It just takes such a long time – a lifetime.
Head of Senior School