Fear of Missing Out–Finding Faith in God’s Leading

Woman walking down dirt road

Thirteen years ago, as we packed our minivan from top to bottom to move literally across the country, I felt as if I was losing myself. I thought my dreams, which God had slowly birthed within me as I served in a close-knit Southern California church, would languish then die.

Ten years later, when one transition after another crippled an organization I wrote for, my journey once again felt unsteady. Fearful to lose something that brought such fulfillment, I began striving and stressing and fighting to control every area of my career. As a result, every opportunity left me with more confusion than clarity, more exhaustion than hope or joy.

It felt as if I was standing at a main trail head with a thousand paths extending before me trying to discern which one would lead to my desired destination. And in my inability to make a decision, to rest in my Father’s loving and faithful arms, I chose them all, or at least, as many as I could, inevitably forfeiting my joy, peace, and effectiveness.

Ironically, my fear of missing out—of that perfect opportunity or experience or role—caused me to miss out on those things that truly mattered. Eventually, everything became stressful and burdensome, like I was constantly kicking against high tide.

Defeated and discouraged, I told God I was tired of the work, of the stress, and the pressure. I told Him I wanted to quit.

He agreed, though He didn’t want me to quit writing and serving. He wanted me to quit striving. He wanted me to rest in Him. To trust that He had a plan and was big enough and strong enough and loving enough to bring that plan to pass.

He’s strong enough to perfect all that concerns me, all that concerns my loved ones, and all that concerns the women I serve.

Like Psalm 139:16 promises, “all the days ordained for me were written in [His} book before one of them came to be” Psalm 139:16 with sunrise background(NIV).

If I believe this to be true, for me and those I love, I have no reason to fear or to strive. I simply need to listen, surrender, and obey.

Whenever I begin to feel exhausted and overwhelmed, whenever I’m tempted to chase after that next shiny or exciting thing, I have to ask myself why. Because I’ve self-analyzed enough to know there’s almost always something deeper going on—some hole I’m hoping to fill, wound I’m trying to numb, or fear I’m trying to avoid.

True peace comes when I humbly pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).

Search me: Penetrate to my depths, to those deepest, most hidden parts of me. Expose my self-deception and faulty perception and flood every shadowed crevice within my heart with Your truth-bearing, lie-expelling light.

Know my anxious thoughts: Reveal to me what I’m really thinking and those nagging lies that fuel distrust. Lies such as: God doesn’t care, doesn’t hear, or lacks the desire and power to lead me and those I love.

Lead me in the way everlasting: Purge everything false, everything hurtful or idolatrous, so that Your faith-bolstering truth may reign. Lead me in Your way, for only You and the things of You are eternal, and only You know how to feed and fill my heart.

Let’s talk about this. How often does fear of missing out—the fear that you or someone you love will miss out on something—drive your behavior?

For example, fear that:

  • turning down that extra project will cost you that promotion
  • not signing your child up for that traveling sports team will cost them popularity and social connections
  • declining that invitation will place you on the outskirts of your peer group
  • setting boundaries in that relationship will prevent you from getting married or having a family
  • should you prioritize financial wisdom over that vacation, the opportunity may never come again

But perhaps an even better question: Are you living like a called, empowered, and loved child of the sovereign God or like an orphan?

What is one truth you can meditate on this week to live more consistently as God’s chosen and deeply loved child and move deeper into freedom?

Additional resources:

Four Ways to Fight Fear of Missing Out by Jon Bloom

Have No Fear of Missing Out by

Countering Fear of Missing Out by Jennifer Slattery

Visit Jennifer’s Faith Over Fear page HERE for additional resources.

Let’s talk about this! Do you struggle with a fear of missing out, and if so how? How does remembering Christ is control and has a plan for you help you move from fear to faith.

Connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, join her private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group, Logo image for Faith Over Fearlisten to the first two episodes of her Faith Over Fear podcast HERE and find her free Bible reading plan HERE.

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.comThe “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Trusting God to Lead and Guide Through Closed and Opened Doors

Picture of a door with text from Revelations 3;8

Sometimes I can spend more time questioning if something is God’s will than actually pursuing it. Granted, it’s good to seek clarity and to bring every thought and passion to Christ for His direction, or redirection, whichever the case may be. But often, when I’m reluctant to move forward, my hesitation comes more from insecurity and a false fear of missing out than patiently waiting on God.

A statement made by a missionary couple nearly a year ago often inspires me to forward progression. They were relatively newly married and had recently sensed God’s call to missions. When I asked them how they discerned God’s will, I expected to hear a list of resources they’d read, conversations they’d held, and divine “aha” moments. Though I have no doubt those things occurred, as God is faithful to confirm His will, their reply reminded me of the power and beauty of obedience.

“A lot of can people get stuck,” Dan Medrano said. “When they don’t know for certain something is God’s will, they won’t move forward. We don’t want to do that. So, if we think God is leading us toward something, we’re going to move forward in faith until He says otherwise. If something’s not of Him, He’ll show us through prayer, Bible reading, the Holy Spirit, and trusted friends.” (Read their full story HERE, page 5.)

I love the child-like trust and full surrender revealed in Dan’s comment: “If we think God is leading us toward something, we’re going to move forward in faith until He says otherwise.”

Dan and his wife relied, completely, on God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. They believed He’d open whatever doors He wanted them to walk through and would close whatever ones He didn’t.

Early in my writing career, as I read God’s promise to the Philadelphian church in Revelations 3:8, I sensed His whisper in my heart, “This is for you as well.”

The verse reads, “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept My Word and have not denied My name” (NIV).

God packed so much encouragement in those two precious sentences. His plans for me aren’t dependent on my strength, which will always be woefully insufficient. Nor will I miss them or mess them up. Rather, I live out His will, in all it’s fullness and at every moment, simply by leaning into Him and continually moving forward, trusting, if I offer my heart completely to Him, He’ll stir it in whatever direction He chooses.

Sitting in that place of full surrender, of total pliability, brings such peace. It reminds us that we don’t have to hear God perfectly. He doesn’t sit up in heaven, waiting to catch us in a misstep. He’s a good, patient, tender-hearted Father who continually walks beside us.

I suggest God receives the same joy watching us grow and explore as we do with our children.

When our daughter was young, she and I often went on “adventure walks.” We were living in a Southern California suburb at the time filled with crisscrossing, winding walking paths and parks less than a half a mile in each direction. Each morning, we ventured on whatever path she chose. I was less concerned with where we landed than each precious moment shared between us. There were times I’d redirect her, like when we neared a busy road or needed to meet friends at the playground. But most of the time, I simply enjoyed walking beside her, hearing her chatter, and watching her eyes light up at every “blow flower” we encountered.

When I get logged down with to-dos and ministry demands, I have to intentionally remind myself that Christ alone is my prize, and I am His. He longs for me—my heart, child-like trust, and my moment-by-moment surrender—more than anything I might do for Him. He wants me to remain pliable. This means, when I’m heading one way and hit a dead end, rather than getting frustrated or trying to force through it, I smile, gaze up at my good, good Father, and placing my hand in His, follow. And when the road ahead looks clouded and I can only see that next step, I lean closer to my Guide, knowing however and wherever He leads will be good.

Because He is good.

Let’s talk about this! What do you tend to value more—God’s guidance for what’s ahead or Him? Your relationship with Him or what you do for Him? How might your stress, anxiety, and uncertainty level change if, moment by moment, you reminded yourself that He alone is your prize and so long as you’re prioritizing Him, everything else will follow.

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