One of the most famous cases of “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out) can be found in the Gospels: the story of the rich young man (Matthew 19:16–22; Mark 10:17–27). Although the young man was interested in following Jesus, he couldn’t get past his fear of missing out on a life of material wealth. This story is no doubt included in the Gospels to remind us catechists that our invitations to follow Jesus will be met with FOMO; it is a natural human reaction. You may even have experienced some degree of FOMO when you were invited to become a catechist!
The Scriptures are full of people responding to God’s call with FOMO: Abraham feared he would miss out on his golden years; Jeremiah feared he would miss out on his youth; Moses feared he would miss out on his calm and private life as a shepherd; Isaiah feared he would miss out on his “edgy” lifestyle that included “unclean lips;” and Jonah feared he would miss out on everything!
As we help young people to deepen their commitment to a life a holiness—a life of discipleship—we must help them to recognize that saying yes to something or someone always involves saying no to something or someone else. We need to help them recognize that, instead of a fear of missing out, they can and should embrace the freedom that comes with true commitment.
A new book, The Freedom of Missing Out: Letting Go of Fear and Saying Yes to Life by Fr. Michael Rossmann, SJ, can help us to speak to the FOMO that young disciples of Christ face. Fr. Rossmann offers a practical plan for developing emotional courage, increasing focus, and learning to say no to what depletes us and yes to what gives us meaning, vitality, and joy. By following the plan, we can help our young disciples to deepen their commitment by replacing a fear of missing out with what Fr. Rossmann calls the “freedom of missing out.” In his own words:
There is a depth of joy that occurs only when we go all in. A commitment allows us to know where we are going. We can plan for the future. We can enjoy building something great rather than look around to see what might be better. Closing all the other potential doors sounds scary. But in reality, it’s freeing.
Our invitations to follow Jesus will fall flat unless we can help those we teach to understand that commitment is not a prison, but a freedom to go all in.