When You Have FOMO, Even Though You Were There



A few years ago, I was introduced to a little four-letter acronym that put a name to a feeling I was all too familiar with: FOMO. The Fear Of Missing Out.

Turned out, it wasn’t just me who felt a stab of sadness when there was a dinner I wasn’t invited to… even if it was a dinner I didn’t particularly want to attend, I still felt sad to not be invited. FOMO hits when friends I like hang out with each other without me. FOMO strikes when I see pictures on instagram of happy groups at the theater, at the park, on vacation. Finding out that FOMO had a name—that it was a thing‑made me take a harder look at this phenomenon, and why it is that I compare my messiest self with others’ glossiest online presence. The twin beasts of comparison and envy lurk close by, and as one friend recently said: Social Media is like Miracle-Gro for envy.

I recently got to attend a writers’ conference: a FEAST of a festival, with speakers and professionals and an abundance of online friends there in person. More than a few of my writer friends expressed their great sadness that they couldn’t go: “I’m going to have to stay off the internet for a week to keep the FOMO at bay,” wrote one. Wanting to be sensitive to those same feelings of loss that I experienced, I kept fairly quiet about the fact that I’d be attending. I didn’t live tweet each session. I didn’t post pictures of all the wonderful people I saw. FOMO is a thing, and I didn’t want to kindle it.

I got to go. I didn’t miss out. But here’s the thing: at the end of the first day I had a creeping sense of loss and sadness, and it took me a couple of hours to figure out what it was: my old nemesis FOMO, right there with me. After fifteen hours of constant interaction and input on that first day, I found myself strangely sad about all the conversations I hadn’t been able to finish, the people I hadn’t manage to connect with, the sessions I couldn’t attend because I was in a brilliant parallel session.

“How ungrateful you are”, I chided myself. “How ridiculous to have your whole day tainted by what you didn’t experience, rather than be amazed at what you did?” I spent some time before the second day began mentally preparing for the day ahead and taking my FOMO—now that I’d identified it—by the horns. I would aim to be present with the person right in front of me in conversation, to keep my eyes from flitting to the stream of people walking past behind them. I would take good notes in each session, and keep a record of the gems in front of me. I would keep my hands open, ready to receive every good gift that came my way, and ready to give generously if I had opportunity.

The second day was so much better, and the third better yet. The practice of being present and attentive to the graces before me is something my FOMO-bent heart needs all the time, for I am strangely capable of missing out on the good thing right in front of me just because I’m scared of missing out somewhere else.

I come home from the conference a little wiser about myself. I’m learning that the cure to FOMO is not to be found in being invited to all the things and attending all the events. It’s making sure I attend—with present, mindful, attention—to the place I am at. It’s not cured by physically showing up; for me it’s about emotionally and spiritually showing up in the conversation I’m having and the situation I’m in right now, without letting my heart and attention flit elsewhere.

Our Fear of Missing Out will not be cured by receiving more invitations. Rather, God is inviting me—and you—to attend to the good gifts right in front of us, for He Fears we’ll be Missing Out if we don’t.


Photo credit: Lilong Dolrani/ Lonely (Flickr Creative Commons), edited by Bronwyn Lea using Canva.





To Be Found Faithful – {guest post by Sarah Torna Roberts}

I have been longing for this day to come, so I can introduce you to Sarah Torna Roberts and share her beautiful post. It was just exactly what I needed to read. I bet it is for you too.

Toms on the river

It was a weekend none of us would likely forget. We were almost all of us together, as total as we’d been in years.  Tents were pitched in my grandparents’ mountain backyard, babies cried, and kiddos ran every which way. Newlyweds roasted marshmallows with arms wrapped around each other’s waists because that’s what you do when you’ve still got the honeymoon in your eyes. There was the familiar family talent show, piles of chocolate, bags of potato chips and the ever present onion dip, may it reign forever.

On night two of this spectacular family gathering, someone gathered us all, quieted our laughter and reminiscing, murmured words of thanks and blessing. Then, a new practice, a time of sharing with each family taking its’ turn breaking open a bit, placing the precious things of our lives and hearts into the hands and hearts of those gathered.

What does the next year look like for you?

What do you need prayer for?

How can we support you through the season you’re in?

One by one, we heard stories of looming college graduations, heavy work loads, raising young children, endless ministry tasks. We listened, we cried. We nodded in affirmation and love.

When it came to my Grandma, my so private Grandma, my never complaining Grandma, my solid as a rock Grandma, my bootstraps Grandma, we leaned in.  She spoke words, halted and started by the choked throat, by the emotion of her whole family spread before her, the emotion of putting it to words, the slow and steady path of her life.

She described her calling, her place in this time.  Sacred tasks, their holiness hidden by their everyday ordinariness. Tiny efforts in practice, monumental in their importance, in their cost. Her quietly muttered sentences washing over all of us, her simple obedience to the mundane and invisible ringing with truth and grace and love.

“I just want to be found faithful.”

And with that, the heart’s cry of my life was born. These words brought Freedom for my try-harder, do-it-right-the-first-time nature.

I just want to be found faithful.

Her words follow me around every bend in my road, blaze above me as I struggle through middle of the night worries, whisper at me when the path seems too narrow for my lead feet.

I just want to be found faithful.

… when my little son’s struggles are more than just a phase, when the road to developmental delay is winding and full of road blocks and rolled eyes. When we land on a diagnosis, to lean into a world as heartbreaking as it is beautiful and miraculous.

…when that file titled “Writing”  on my computer contains documents that date back to 2001. When the nudge to admit that writing is part of who I was made to be,  when it becomes clear that hiding is no longer an option, to write out loud.

… when the friend of my heart walks the road of infertility, when she needs me to just show up, to swear and rage with her as dreams collapse, to smile and nod as they change and morph.

… when I’m exhausted by the minivan, and the suburban life that repeats itself every day. When the tasks are ordinary and necessary, isolating and honorable, to do them tired and do them with love.

… when my husband needs my touch, needs my smiling joy over him, over our union even though I’m so tired and frustrated I could spit, to kiss him well.

… when the conversations are hard, and there is repair work to be done. When I’ve done harm with my words or lack of words, with my actions or inactions, to step toward repentance, forgiveness, the hard words of mercy.

I just want to be found faithful.

Faithfulness doesn’t look like perfection or super spiritual, hero-status endeavors. It is the road of mistakes, of imperfect persistence.

If my Grandmother is any indication, it is simply opening your eyes every single day to the life God has given you, to the people He’s set you with, to the circumstances and opportunities and situations of your life, and taking a step toward them.  And then maybe another one.

Faithfulness is meant for such as me, with my ragamuffin heart. It’s my imperfect road of trying again, of God smiling on me as I honor the life He’s given me by continuing to live it, even with my messes and sassy mouth and snappy temper. To open my hands to it, to pour my soul into it.  To raise my eyes to heaven and ask for help along the away, again.

To trust that this is enough.

profile pic-smallSarah Torna Roberts is a writer who lives in California with her husband and four sons. She blogs at www.sarahtornaroberts.com where she digs around her in her memories, records her present, and is constantly holding her faith up to the light. She snacks at 2 AM with great regularity, is highly suspicious of anyone who doesn’t love baseball (Go Giants!), and would happily live in a tent by the sea. Connect with her on twitter, instagram or follow her blog here


When pajamas and an iPad are the tools of the trade

Today's Writing Station - Thord Daniel Hedengren (Flickr Creative Commons)

Today’s Writing Station – Thord Daniel Hedengren (Flickr Creative Commons)

My thoughtful blogging friend Jody Louise invited me to participate in a ‘blog hop’: a pyramid scheme of the very nicest kind. In it, we get to answer a few questions about the how and why of writing, and I also get to introduce you to three writers who I enjoy reading. I LOVE recommending other writers, so how could I turn this down?

I must confess that I found the questions a little intimidating: they seemed formulated for people who were much more intentional and organized in their writing than I am. However, the process of thinking through the questions was worthy in itself, and I hope that the answers about me, as a haphazard writer, are interesting for you, gentle reader 🙂

(So without further ado, here is a drumroll….)

What am I writing or working on?

I do not plan very far ahead in my writing (see question 4 on the writing process). I do not have a writing plan for next week, or next month. But I do have a few ideas I am rolling around with: I have an “ask me anything” question I’m mulling over before I answer, and two pieces I am working on for other publications.

After I wrote the Screwtape Letter after the World Vision fiasco, a friend suggested I should write a sequel in the Screwtape/Wormwood genre, focused on some of the lies that women believe. I love this idea and have been thinking over it and reading about it, but I have yet to write a single word on it.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Hmmm. This question assumes I know what genre my writing is. I find it hard to categorize: my “genre” is really whatever I am thinking about/talking about on any given day – which means my blog covers a gamut of things that make me laugh and things that make me think. Sometimes it’s parenting, or body image, or theology, or literature. Sometimes it’s a hot topic, sometimes it’s just something I thought was funny. Certainly my most widely read genre are the things I have written about marriage. I find this astounding: I would NOT consider myself to be a marriage expert. We have more than our share of struggles, and yet it seems that being willing to share what I am struggling with and learning in the process has found something of a niche.

One thing I have found as I have been writing is that I am not really a lifestyle or mommy blogger, which I thought at first I might be. As it turns out, my writing has much more spiritual content than I expected it would. It kind of surprised me how, when I started to dig deeper on any given topic, there was almost always a faith-root exposed.

Why do I write what I do?

Because it’s what I am thinking about and talking about anyway.

Because I like the process of writing. (And it’s a ministry I can do in my pajamas with an iPad at home.)

Because people tell me I’m good at it.

But mostly because I hope that somewhere out there, the words I write might have a positive effect on someone: whether to make them smile, feel understood, or to understand something a little better. I write to bless.

How does my writing process work?

I am a post-by-post, article-by-article kind of writer. In general, I am fairly haphazard: I write about what I feel like writing. I think about it, and then I download it into a blogpost and hit publish. I was quite mortified when I attended the writing festival in April and discovered that the norm in writing is to write drafts and to edit one’s work… oh yikes. I am so much more impulsive than that.

However, I’m trying to build a little more discipline into writing and take this seriously, as it does seem something that I feel a modicum of ‘calling’ to do right now. To that end, I’m waking up 1-2 hrs before my children to read, pray (and write, if I get to it) in the morning. Some nights, I put an hour in too. But the rest of the time, I’m a full-time-mommy, and the writing thoughts congregate and coagulate in my head until I find the time to try and force them into more concrete, wordy shapes.

Which other writers would I like to introduce you to?

Gosh! I’m so glad you asked 🙂 Readers, I’m thrilled to introduce 3 bloggers to you – maybe they’re a voice you’ve been missing all along!


Profile pic 05.14 Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She is married to a South African pastor and spends her days relying on the Lord’s grace (and plenty of chocolate) to homeschool their three children by day, and freelance by night. Kate writes for iBelieve.com and Ungrind Webzine, and has contributed to several other publications including (in)courage, Start Marriage Right, Thriving Family, MOPS, Radiant Magazine and Young Disciple. You can read more from Kate at her blog, Heading Home, or on Twitter @k8motaung.

I knew Kate long before either of us started writing, and it has been so wonderful to be on this writing journey with her. Kate wrote a fabulous guest post for this blog here.


1424377_2486623925114_1440151646_nBriana Meade is a millennial writer and blogger. You can read her millennial-focused blog here or follow her on Twitter @BrianaMeade. She has published online at Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog, The Christian Post, and Forbes and is currently working on her first book, Love In Fast Cars, which explores the heartbreak and nostalgia of growing up–a book about millennials and for millennials.

I got to meet Briana in person at the Writing Festival in April, and liked her 1000% from the word go. Briana guest posted in the Words that Changed my World series with Running in the Rain (ICYMI – read it!)


SarahBWCloseLaughSarah Siders is a social-working writer and church planter with her husband in a Midwestern college town. She is working on her book, Dream or Die, a primer on recovering dreams and vision for our lives, which will release this year. She laughs and thinks out loud on dreaming, relationships and the hilarity of parenthood at her blog home, www.sarahsiders.com, or you can find her on Twitter: @sarahsiders.

Sarah and I both write for Start Marriage Right, but we really got chatting one day on Twitter when we were comparing notes about who the worst potty trainer in the world was (I maintain I am worse. Sorry, Sarah). We got to follow up with a lengthy and hilarious skype meeting, and I for one was cheering for her this week as she had to return to work after the birth of her second kiddo. Read her lovely post about that here.