I saw this acronym recently and didn’t know what it meant, but from the context of what I was reading it seemed as if it’s commonly used now. I looked it up and found that it means “Fear Of Missing Out”.
Fear of missing out. I can understand that – who wants to be left out? The picture that springs into my head is that of a youth standing on the sidelines of a gym, waiting to be picked for a team and dreading the possibility that they’ll be the last one chosen, or, even worse, not chosen at all.
I can think of a handful of similar acronyms:
FOBI: Fear Of Being Invisible. At some point in our lives we’ve all likely been overlooked for something important. We didn’t get the invitation to the party or weren’t recognized for something we put a lot of effort into. We’ve all been the “new guy” or “new girl” somewhere, hoping someone will acknowledge and welcome us instead of avoiding eye contact. Remember the theme song from the TV show Cheers in the 1980’s? “You want to be where everybody knows your name.” We fear being unknown.
FOBD: Fear Of Being Different. I would like to say that this disappears after we leave high school, where we all struggled to be “cool” or at least be aware of current fads in music or clothing, but I know that’s not the case. I often feel FOBD when people are discussing sports, like March Madness right now. It’s not something that ever interested me, but FOBD makes me want to pay a little bit of attention to it just so I’m not excluded entirely from the conversation. When everyone in the office is discussing their brackets it’s hard to be the only one wanting to talk about the Dalai Lama.
FOBU: Fear Of Being Unworthy, also known by a different name: shame. This one has so many voices that play in our heads: “I’m not good enough”. “Nobody loves me.” “I’m so embarrassed by what I did.” “There must be something wrong me.” “I shouldn’t feel this way.” “If only I were thinner, wealthier, smarter, more handsome or had more hair…”
What do these fears have in common? Loneliness. A fear that we are disconnected from everyone else, adrift in a sea of faces. A fear that we don’t belong. A fear that we aren’t enough. The root of loneliness is fear.
But God did not give us a spirit of fear.
God did not give us a spirit of fear.
God did not give YOU a spirit of fear.
What did He give you? What did He give us?
A spirit of love.
You are loved. You are valued. You are enough. You are not a child standing on the side of the gym – you have been chosen.
You are beloved.
Another word for love? Compassion.
Compassion: reaching out, connecting and caring for and with others.
And this, says the Dalai Lama, is where our happiness lies:
“The only thing that will bring happiness is affection and warm-heartedness. This really brings inner strength and self-confidence, reduces fear, develops trust and trust brings friendship. When you have a more compassionate mind and cultivate warm-heartedness, the whole atmosphere around you becomes more positive and friendlier. You see friends everywhere.”
So how do we do foster a spirit of warm-heartedness?
We hold our breath, relax, then take the step to reach out to someone in need. We lift our eyes and look for opportunities to help.
We look for the similarities in all those we encounter and not the differences.
We try our best to understand that every person has a unique story, a unique set of circumstances and a unique view of the world and our task is not to change that view to match ours but rather to allow them to share it with us safely. We lift them up, not put them down.
We look for ways to listen.
We look for ways to care, heal and soothe.
We celebrate each other’s successes and grieve each other’s losses.
We recognize that we don’t have to be perfect to be enough. We don’t have to be perfect to be acceptable. We don’t have to be perfect to be valued. We don’t have to be perfect to be loved. Neither does anyone else.
We pray for and comfort each other.
We seek peace: in ourselves, in each other, in our communities… in our world.
I think the apostle Paul says it best in his letter to the Colossians:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another. And above all, clothe yourselves with love.”