I have struggled the past few years with feeling a lack of strong community. I have often wondered whether it’s due to my current season of life as a parent with young children. It seems harder to make time to connect with others when my schedule revolves around caring for my children and it takes a lot of forethought and planning (and an available sitter) to be able to get together without at least one child in tow. I have wrestled and prayed and fumed and whined about it.
I recently read Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding & Keeping Lasting Friendships by Lisa-Jo Baker. I was initially embarrassed to be seen reading a book with such a title. I felt like a weirdo for wanting to learn more about having successful relationships. I eventually got over my self-consciousness and devoured the contents of the book. I want to share some of my favorite quotes and thoughts but there is so much wisdom, encouragement, and truth in the book that it will have to be done in multiple posts over the next few weeks. If this is an area where you struggle, please check back for the other posts (or subscribe to have them emailed directly to you) and also check out the book for yourself! I hope my take-aways will encourage you in your own relationships.
How many times have you opened Facebook or Instagram only to catch a glimpse of an event you didn’t know was happening in your town and that you weren’t invited to? Or that a friend was in the area and didn’t ever reach out to you? How many times have we translated those images into the assumption that it was done on purpose? That the failure to connect or invite or include was because we were somehow found lacking? How often have we jumped from a photograph to a full-page story in our own heads that stars us as the excluded victim?
This paragraph really jumped out at me and smacked right into my own struggle. Since most people post the best or most exciting parts of their lives online, the threat of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is huge. Sometimes, even if I was already doing my own fun thing simultaneously as some other event, I am likely to feel like the thing I missed was better than the one I enjoyed.
When I see friends doing things I might have been able to enjoy as well had I known about it, I do struggle with the thought that there’s something wrong with me. The enemy tries to plant the thought that there’s an aspect of me or my personality that repels others. If I allow this thought to grow, then usually I will begin to believe that all of my friends are in regular contact and communication with one another and I’m the only one feeling lonely.
On my better days, I choose to turn my thoughts over to God through prayer. I remind myself that God loves me and has my best interests in mind. He is not withholding good from me because he’s spiteful. Something that seems good may not be what is actually best. If I can trust God’s provision and timing for relationships, then I can enjoy what I do have rather than what I am tempted to believe I am lacking.
When FOMO is really strong, I am sometimes tempted to shut down all social media to avoid the heartache I might feel from continuing to view it. I could probably do just fine without it. I do like using it to keep up with extended family and long-distance friends and a few other things. I should probably be conscious of how I am using it (not as a distraction or time waster) and close it up if I begin to feel discouraged or jealous.
Do you struggle with FOMO and social media? How do you regain proper perspective when you feel like you are in a negative spiral?
This is the first post of a series exploring some of the ideas in Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships by Lisa-Jo Baker. If you’re interested in reading the other posts, please click on a title: Finding Our Approval, Guilt-Free Friendship, Celebrating, Mourning and Other Aspects of Friendship, The Comparison Trap, and Working Through Negative Feelings.