If you are leading an on-line discussion, you may read this as a reflection, or ask individuals to take turns reading portions. This version provides additional group processing questions at the end. The reflection for individuals can be found here.
3 Ways to Tackle the Fear of Missing Out in Quarantine Life
My neighbor texted me today, letting me know she missed me.
I don’t think I even realized I missed her until she texted me. Then, Big Emotion rushed in and made its presence known.
Has Big Emotion made its presence known to you in the last couple of weeks?
Maybe you popped online to see what your friends were up to and that looked a whole lot better than your current situation; maybe your teacher posted eight new articles to read in place of an actual classroom discussion; maybe you ran out of ice cream and carbohydrates and your mom told you the store was not an option for several days; maybe school, which was a safe place, was canceled; maybe prom was canceled, track was canceled, time with friends was canceled; maybe (you fill-in-the-blank) was canceled.
The loss of those things is real. DCE Julianna Shults clarifies some of those Big Emotions surrounding many of us right now, sitting in the room alongside of us while we watch TV and try to do some homework. She calls them ambiguous loss, or losses that aren’t as easily recognized by those around us as the death of a loved one. There’s no funeral for these losses, but that doesn’t make them nothingness.
Big Emotion and all the losses that weigh heavy all around us can also equate to some FOMO. What’s FOMO?
anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website
simply put – the fear of missing out
FOMO is that place we find ourselves in when we think everyone else is having a better time than we are, or everyone else is having a better life than we are. It’s easy to have FOMO when life is normal. Now, with Big Emotion hanging out all around us, and boredom stalking our days, we might especially find ourselves in a place where we are wondering what everyone else is up to, turning quickly to, “clearly they are up to something better than me.” We experience FOMO as anxiety and vague restlessness, sometimes a sense of heaviness or sadness. What we’d really rather have is joy. And we’re in luck, at the end of the day Joy itself is something Jesus gives us, not dependent on quarantine or world upheaval. We can have Joy even while we’re sad about missing out on things. God leaves room for both. God hears both.
Here are 3 ways to engage in the joy Jesus gives us and find some JOMO—or Joy Of Missing Out—amidst the anxiety, boredom, and Big Emotion:
1 – Look for Jesus in the smallest of things.
Social media and our world in general are all about the big moments of life, but anxiety and pain is reduced when we find joy in the littlest moments of things of life. Even when life seems mediocre, God is at work. Life might look quieter right now, so maybe we have more moments to reflect on what God is doing in our day.
Heidi’s examples of joy in small things:
- God gave me a family, and even when they are on my last nerve with their closeness, I like knowing I’m not in this alone.
- God gave some inventor somewhere the idea of video chatting. And He also gave me the freedom to say, “I’ve had enough video chatting for today.”
- After a week without them, I was able to buy eggs from the grocery store this week, and even better, a cake mix.
What small ways do you see God bringing His joy into your life right now?
2 – Listen to your body, heart, mind, and spirit.
You are not only made up of your Big Emotions. Jesus tells us in Mark 12:30 that we are a body, heart, soul, and mind. God made our bodies to send us signals and information about what we need. When we listen to our thoughts, our hearts, our bodies, and the Spirit God put inside of us at our Baptism, we can more accurately identify what we need to replace what we’re missing, rather than getting worked up about stuff we think we might be missing.
Listen for just a second:
- What are your thoughts about quarantine and life right now?
- What am I feeling?
- Am I tired/sad/hungry/content/something else?
- What do I need from my friends and family? Can I tell them?
- What do I need or want from God?
3 – There’s no better time like Quarantine Time to practice the language of JOMO.
Sometimes we just practice saying truth, even when it’s hard to believe. Isaiah 52:9 is one of my favorite verses for finding some language of joy in Jesus:
Burst into songs of joy together,
you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
When life feels in ruins or just really mundane, we can sing and say and shout Joy because God never fails to show up with joy. Jesus is our comfort when the anxiety or sadness of FOMO creeps in. Jesus is our redemption, when we’re a little or a lot afraid of the hard things happening in this world. Big Emotions will come and that’s ok. We were made that way by God. They remind us that God is bigger, Jesus Joy is bigger.
The Joy Of Missing Out says,
“There’s a part of me that’s a little bit stoked not to have to do all the stuff.”
The Joy Of Missing Out says,
“Why, yes, thank you, I will stock up on rest and relaxation.”
The Joy Of Missing Out says,
“There will be cool things in my life and average days and both are good.”
The Joy Of Missing Out in Jesus says,
“God is bringing joy to this day and every day. I’m gonna trust in that, even when I can’t see it.”
What JOMO would you share today? What is hard and what is good about quarantine life? These are good questions to consider for yourself and even better questions to ask with someone in your household or a friend online. God is in both of those things, the good stuff and the hard stuff. He brings His joy into our anxiety, our turmoil, our boredom, our grief, our everything.
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We are blessed to have this time online to consider some of these questions as a group –
What kind of big or small emotions have you had in the last few weeks?
What kinds of opportunities and relationships do you think people are most afraid of missing out of in real life?
What small things have you found joy in today or in the last week?
What do you need or want from your family right now? Your friends?
What do you need or want from God right now?
What is hard and what is good about quarantine life?
In your prayer time together, thank God for something joyful in your life right now and ask Him for something you need.