“He withholds no good thing…” (Psalm 84:11)
Those who read things on the internet or voraciously scour the Oxford English Dictionary, which added today’s word to their compendium in 2013, have probably come across the acronym “FOMO” long before this post. The letters stand for “Fear of Missing Out,” the official definition is “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere,” and when you move as much as we have, it’s a very real struggle.
I really am excited for Aaron having this great job and moved to tears of joy over having these two babies on a regular basis. This is a life I have desperately wanted for a long time. It’s important to be present in all these moments, even the tough ones. I don’t want to waste it or wish it away, but we are still far from “settled” in our town or home, and feeling so not-at-home for so long is discouraging. Days with two babies are intense, and it seems like things would be so much easier back in our Minnesota neighborhood, which came complete with a built-in best friend/babysitter. (It was more than a little bit awesome.) Even knowing that this move is supposed to be so good for us, all this upheaval makes me feel like we are split in a million pieces. Christmastime makes these aches more noticeable: I want to enjoy roaring fireplaces and watch snow falling outside the windows of our parents’ homes. I want to be in my Iowa Bible Study class. I want to drink candy cane hot chocolate with my neighborhood coffee moms from Minnesota. I want to sing Christmas carols with my college friends in real life and not just interact occasionally on social media. I wish I was having this conversation in person with pretty much anyone who is reading it.
This is compounded because I also have some FOMO about Advent. Again. I’m not sure why this even merits a mention, because I feel like this every year. I have a dream of observing a month of Advent for spiritual reflection and meditation. I have the Advent devotionals, I have the Jesse Tree ornament set, I have a list of all the appropriate songs. Something inside me really craves this. We have never observed the season as fully as I would dream, but this year is it’s own version of missing out because we haven’t made plans for implementing any holiday cheer around here. No tree. No lights. No concerts. No advent wreath. No energy to get excited about presents. I suppose this is the year to scale back – the kids are too little to know we are pulling it in so far, and we’re extremely tired. I want to do all the things that make the celebrations special for us… but only badly enough to feel their absence, not enough to actually make it happen. This family desperately needs a long weekend together more than the holiday hoopla.
On the surface it seems we’re not even “doing” Advent this year, and we evangelicals could all point out that liturgical seasons are unnecessary because God didn’t include a calendar in the back of the Bible anyway. But there can be rich treasure discovered in honoring this ancient practice of remembering, in some tangible way, the wait for Jesus. Without lighting candles or keeping up with any special reading, this month when “missing out” seems to be overlaying my every thought, the purpose of Advent -celebrating what came and is still coming in the incarnate Christ- should override what seems held back from me.
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
The stories I dream of reading with the children during future Advent seasons are full of people who sojourned and wandered, often far away from those they loved, grounded in the firm conviction that God would fulfill his promise with a deliverer and a homeland. The special gift of this Advent is that no matter how much I can identify with those who mourned in lonely exile right now, I am not missing the Promise who fulfills the eternal YES in the midst of my life’s (much) lesser nos.