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Fear of Missing Out

Rev. Clay Horton shares his views on fighting for justice and how it's connected to fasting. See:

Do you have FOMO? It's the “Fear of Missing Out.” I know I sure do. I don't want to miss out on those important or memorable things in life. When I was younger, FOMO meant that I'd stay up late with friends to ensure I didn't miss out on great late-night conversations. Now that I'm older, I have FOMO when I think about time with my family. I'm witnessing my kids grow up faster than I can comprehend. While there are times I need a break or a getaway, I also value my time with them and recognize that each stage of life is precious. When I choose to be away from my kids, whether for work or pleasure, I have FOMO. 

A couple Sunday nights ago, I attended the Dallas District Attorney Candidate Forum hosted by Faith in Texas, a multi-faith, multi-racial organization. The goal of this event was for the faith community to come together in Dallas and let the DA candidates know the wishes of the faith community and to let the candidates share some of their platforms and how they will work to move Dallas forward in justice reform. While I cannot vote in that election, I was one of 30 faith leaders along with hundreds of people from the community who want our justice system to be more restorative rather than punitive. I felt the presence of faith leaders at the event would send an important message to District Attorney candidates.  And so, I headed to Dallas on a beautiful afternoon, knowing that I'd miss a relaxing Sunday night with my family. 

During the event, Errinne sent me a picture of the kids with their arms wrapped around each other, walking our dog. FOMO. When the kids are fighting, I'm more than happy to be out of the house, but when they're being buddies, there's nothing better. I was missing out on a fun walk around the neighborhood! What else was I missing out on!?

I had FOMO for about 10 seconds before my heart was jolted and I remembered a story I had heard five minutes earlier. Christopher Scott had just shared about his wrongful conviction. He spent 13 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. When he entered prison, his children were 5 and 6 years old, the same age as my children. He didn't get out of prison until they were 17 and 18 years old. He missed their whole childhood. He missed laughter at the dinner table. He missed their first ball games. He missed the walks around the neighborhood on beautiful days. He missed out on some of the greatest blessings in life because of flaws and mistakes in the justice system. 

As I sat in the church pew, a new person now speaking, I felt convicted as I thought about the picture Errinne had sent. I felt guilty for experiencing FOMO. I realized that I was missing one night in order to stand up for justice so that others wouldn't have to wrongfully miss every night of their children's lives. 

The fear of missing out too often keeps us from being generous with our time. I know it has for me. While I love helping with short-term service projects every now and then, it's FOMO that often stops me from joining justice causes and going all in.

Where do you experience FOMO? What causes would you get involved with if you knew that giving up a portion of your time would be life giving for others?

I recognize that this world is full of justice issues that you and I could fight 24/7. If we did, we wouldn't be there to hug our kids, and we'd be missing out on the blessings that we are trying to give to other people. To be honest, if we never stopped fighting for justice, we'd also be trying to live into the role of savior, and I think Jesus Christ should have the sole claim on that title.

On the other hand, if we never do anything, we're not being a true witness for Christ or embodying His radical love. I believe that fasting, the practice of abstaining from something in order to focus on God, gives us time and space to grow closer to God and to serve God. In the process, God creates in us a more generous heart and guides us to the places where God wants us to serve. This lent, I invite you to fast and to see where God calls you to give more of yourself.


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