Fear Of Missing Out. I have a dreadful case of it. It colors everything I do and drives me absolutely bonkers. Every day there are choices to make. (Especially Wednesdays. Friggin Wednesdays.) Should I go out with my classmates, or with my church mates, or go swing dancing? Should I work, or rest? Which cafe should I study in? The more options, the worse it becomes. I literally agonize over decisions. There is very real anxiety involved. You’re probably all reading this thinking, “Forgive me if I don’t feel bad for you and your too many fun things to choose from.” Fair point. But I’ve realized that this fear of missing out is actually negatively impacting me life.

For example, my church search is becoming ridiculous. There are SO MANY amazing churches here – great problem to have. But instead of walking into a great church and thinking, “Lovely people, great sermon, I could feel at home here,” I walk in and think, “This is great, but I still haven’t checked out [insert other church here], and it might be a better fit.” It’s leading to discontentment, me being places and wondering what’s going on elsewhere and if I would have had more fun had I chosen the other option. I’ve even realized, with all this church hopping, that it’s a pretty good parallel for my relationships. Generally, no sooner am I in a relationship then I start looking around wondering if there’s someone better suited to me out there who I’ll miss out on if I fully commit…not ideal.

I was really feeling the stress yesterday as I went to yet another church to check it out. (Christ Church Clifton, and it was – as usual – lovely.) It was my second church service of the day and I was (I am ashamed to admit) even contemplating a third because I didn’t want to miss out on anything. And I was so so stressed and becoming quite sure that I was probably unintentionally dodging God’s best intentions by second guessing everything and running hither and thither trying to find His best like a chicken with my head cut off. I felt like surely I’d unintentionally caught myself in one of those movie scenes where two people are trying to find each other, but because they’re each desperately searching for the other their paths never cross whereas if one of them would just sit still for five seconds they would easily be caught up. I want so badly to find God’s will for my life and be living in that one best sweet spot that I fear I too often take everything into my own hands and try the shotgun approach. Do EVERYTHING and one of the things you do will probably be something God had in mind. Needless to say, I was feeling the strain.

Then during worship we sang “The Goodness of God,” a favorite of mine, which has a bridge based on the last verse of Psalm 23.

Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me!
Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me!
With my life laid down, I’m surrendered now.
I give you everything.
Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me!

Verse 6 of Psalm 23 says the following:

Psalm 26: 6 (ESV)

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

I did a sharing on the 23rd Psalm a couple years ago, and was blown away to discover that the word translated “pursue” literally means to chase, harass, dog, persecute, or hunt down. Imagine that. God’s goodness and mercy and love literally hunt us down like a dog chasing after game. How beautiful. After we finished singing, the leader of the service stood up and reminded me of that. God’s love is chasing us and we can’t outrun it. Even me, with my chicken-with-my-head-cut-off approach to following Jesus. Even I won’t manage to dodge Him. God’s goodness is going to catch me. His mercy is going to find me. He’s a pretty good hunter. He’s faster than I am, and He’s got better reflexes. I couldn’t outrun Him intentionally, and He sure as heck isn’t going to let me escape His goodness when I want it.

And then today I was walking home from a Bonfire Night celebration (remember, remember the fifth of November!) and had this moment that just crystalized everything. I was walking down a hill and could see across to the next hill, on which my neighborhood is situated. And it just looked so beautiful with all the houses lit up, an occasional firework going off. (Bonfire Night includes fireworks. And occasionally burning people in effigy (not my celebration…but others). It’s an odd holiday.) And I stopped and leaned against a lamp post and drank in the realization that this is my city. That, at least for now, this is home. I’m not a guest. Not (shudder) a tourist. I’m part of its fabric and it’s part of mine, even if only for a brief time. And I realized that being a Bristolian is ENTIRELY a case of God’s goodness finding me in spite of myself. Only He could have figured out how to get me here. I feel like I tripped and fell and rolled and got up and then stumbled and fell again into Bristol. Every time someone asks me, “So why Bristol?” I kind of laugh nervously because the truth is it was such a convoluted journey of random Google searches, connections, missed connections, failures, successes, second guesses, and “I guess let’s see what happens”s that there was never really a specific solid reason for me to come to Bristol. Just a general sense that it was maybe where God wanted me. That I was sure of maybe 60 percent of the time, while thinking I had probably gone completely nuts the other 40 percent. But then I got here, and it was immediately obvious that although the Bristol decision may have seemed very arbitrary on my end, it was EXTREMELY intentional on His. I can relax. I can breathe. Because even though I’ll probably continue my mad Bristol rampage (because after all, I may very well have only one year here, and I want to do it ALL), it’s good to know that I won’t accidentally dodge God’s will while I’m at it. His goodness is running after me, and it will catch up.

2 thoughts on “FOMO

  1. Allison you crack me up with your vivid descriptions! I tripped and rolled and fell… I’m with you there sister haha!! =D =D =D =D

    I used to think I knew more than I do. Remembering how much better God is than me in EVERYTHING keeps me more childlike in my trust of Him. Being a not-in-the-know child can be SO uncomfortable, but just like your experience, things turn out so much better His way. And other times living like this feels so comfortable and natural that I don’t realize it’s Him directing me till afterwards. Your move to Bristol reminds me of the night about 9pm I suddenly decided to walk the dog. I thought it was me just feeling guilty for skipping her daily 6pm walk…But the thought came with clear resolve and I was out the door as soon as I thought to do it.
    You might remember this incident Allison – within minutes of my being in the pitch dark park with its questionable public bathroom, little 3 year old neighbor Rajah came running to me all alone, butt naked no less! Then I heard his grandparents in their house frantically yelling “Rajah! Where are you?” I was able to yell through the windows. “He’s in the park. I have him. He’s ok!” He had decided to make an escape in the middle of getting changed for bed. We can chuckle about his silliness now, but it could have been a bad situation. The neighbors and I all gave God the credit for getting me out there. I love growing in my trust in Him! Love you!


  2. YES! God IS at work in YOU to will and to do of HIS good pleasure…part of His goodness that pursues you and us in the body of Christ.


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