A few years ago, the term FOMO came into the common vernacular. For those who don't know, it stands for "Fear Of Missing Out." It's probably always been something that people with free time have feared, but it's only increased with the advent of social media. Now you see all the wonderful, exciting, and interesting things your friends and acquaintances are doing and you wonder, "Am I missing out? Are they living better lives than I am?"
The truth is most of the time, most people are sitting at home, wondering why it is that everyone else is having more fun than they are. We are terrified that if don't have the most fun, the best time, that we're somehow ruining our lives. I think it's particularly hard on 20-somethings when practically everything and everyone keeps telling us these are the "best days of our lives." So when bills pile up, the human interaction is exhausting, the list of people we want to be around is short, and time is never enough, we are afraid that we've missed out on the Best Years Of Our Lives. Maybe it's too late.
Practically everyone I know is going through a season of transition- starting school or a new job, moving from home to somewhere new, or feeling left behind by all those that moved. Those who stayed and didn't move, fear that they have Missed Out on Great Adventures. They fear that they took the easy way, or that all the exciting things are Anywhere But Here. And while those that moved may seem to have all the exciting adventures, it is so easy to fear that you just left the greatest city in the world. One scroll through Instagram and I see every mountain, lake, and backpacking picture and the quiet fear creeps up saying, "look on all the amazing things you're missing out on."
It's the end of Labor Day Weekend, and I spent most of it fighting of FOMO. I spent all summer thinking of the fun things I could do this long weekend- road trip to the Atlantic or Gulf beaches; backpacking on the AT; exploring parts of Georgia I'd never been to (aka everywhere) before. But you know what I did? Almost nothing. I went to a Presidential library by myself, biked around Atlanta by myself, went to church by myself, cooked by myself, went to the grocery store 3 times by accident by myself, spent most of the weekend in my dorm room, and spent beautiful sunny days inside. By all accounts, I wasted this long weekend.
But I didn't. I had an ordinary weekend and it was just what I needed. We've been trained not just to be afraid of doing ordinary things, but to be terrified of being ordinary. If I were to tell people I was ordinary, everyone would quickly rebuff me as if I had deeply insulted myself. "No you're not! You're special! You're extraordinary" And although they may mean well, they're also exhausting. I can't be extraordinary all the time. Nor, as a Christian, should I aspire to be.
So often in the gospels, Christ calls us to follow him, and for 31 of his 34 years on Earth, he led an ordinary life. He was a tradesman after all- an ordinary carpenter, who probably built someone's table or bed. He looked ordinary, and so much of his pre-ministry life was so ordinary that the gospel writers didn't find it worth writing down.
I imagine if Jesus lived today, his Instagram account would be mostly inactive. Maybe a cool post about going to the temple, or an artsy filter applied to the artisan chair he built. But mostly, his Facebook would be sporadic posts of ordinary life- work, food, family, temple. We follow a God who made Godself utterly ordinary- a Jewish man living in the backwoods of 1st century Palestine.
So as you leave this Labor Day weekend, my prayer is that you have the courage to be Ordinary. My prayer is that you may be at peace with quiet nights at home or wild nights with friends- so long as you feed your soul. My prayer is that you follow in Christ's footsteps, no matter how plain the path may be. My prayer is that you do good ordinary work knowing that we serve an Extradordinary God.