Monthly Archives: September 2017

When Life Seems Unfair…

Although it’s been around awhile, I just heard an acronym that describes one of my character defects that occasionally rears its ugly head (although a lot less than it used to) and that’s FoMO (Fear of Missing Out). I looked it up and it’s actually a word that was added to the English dictionary a few years ago defined as “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.” Wikipedia’s definition adds: “FoMO is also defined as a fear of regret, which may lead to a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying events. In other words, FoMO perpetuates the fear of having made the wrong decision on how to spend time, as ‘you can imagine how things could be different’.”

We are human beings seeking love, attention and fulfillment, so it is only natural I suppose that sometimes we feel the lack of getting those emotional desires or needs met…or in a broader sense of FoMO, we feel left out, slighted or rejected. Perhaps we didn’t get the job or promotion we were after, we didn’t win the game or contest, we didn’t get to go somewhere, family or friends disappoint us, we get an unexpected rough break financially or with our health…the list can go on. And when we compare or see others getting the very things we think we deserve, our pain only grows. In short, we start to feel that life’s not fair. I was feeling this way in particular this weekend when I heard others planning to go to the beach and I had commitments that were preventing me from going…and it was supposed to be a sunny, hot weekend looking at the weather forecast.  Knowing summer was over and I might not get another chance, I started to feel a FoMO coming on. And then I felt guilty knowing I am so lucky compared to many others in this world…which helped a bit but not entirely.

So how do we deal with those feelings of self-pity that arise when we compare ourselves or our circumstances with others? Let’s look to yesterday’s Gospel reading for an answer. Jesus told a parable of the kingdom being like a landowner who goes out looking for workers; he hires a group at various intervals of the day – early a.m., then at 9, noon and 5 – but ends up paying each the same wage he promised. Of course the workers who showed up early and worked all day complained that they should be paid more. But the landowner replied, “Take what is yours and go…Are you envious because I am generous? Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matt 20: 14-16)

I think Jesus is trying to tell us to be happy and grateful for what we get and have (especially entry to the Kingdom!), and to be happy for our brothers and sisters who get what they do – and to not compare, or begrudge but to let our FoMO go! I believe it helps to share your fear or obsession with someone else who can help you put it in its true perspective, and also to be grateful for all God has given me right here and now.  I know that only when I let my fear and obsession go can I be totally available and possibly happy with the present – which is its own gift!

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Rising to the Challenge

Today I am doing something I’ve never done before…teaching 10 to 15-year-old students how to become authors. I’ve taught adults how to write, publish and market a book for several semesters now at my local college. When the college program director asked me earlier this year if I wanted to teach a course to home school kids I said “sure, why not?” But just like the first time I taught adults (something else I never dreamed I’d do before), now that the day has arrived, I feel a little nervous. I guess that’s normal when you begin anything new, especially when it involves public speaking (which is another thing I never thought I’d do!) But I think God wants us to widen our horizons, push ourselves and rise to new challenges, especially when it comes to helping others, so that we continue to grow.

Looking back, I only ever wanted to write books. I never realized that being an author would mean being asked to speak, but once I did, I joined Toastmasters to help overcome my fear of public speaking and help me become a good speaker. And speaking led to giving workshops at writers’ conferences which led to teaching college classes on book writing which brought me to where I am today…and the Lord only knows what else is in store in the future! All I know is that I need to overcome my fears, which are just manifestations of my ego, and humbly say “yes” by being of service, and God will help me if I let Him guide me.

Still, sometimes it seems that it would be easier to just “stay inside my box” and just keep doing that with which I am comfortable…and the Monday morning feeling that all I want to do is hide under the covers and fall back asleep is strong. But then I remember Jesus’ words from the Bible: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48) and “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) Hard to believe, given all of the miracles and healing He performed, that Jesus would expect his disciples to do ‘even greater things’! And of course, we are his modern-day disciples.

So I encourage us all to pray that today we can rise to the challenges before us and be open to still greater things in the future.

 

 

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Letting Go…

My daughter is in Florida now which is being battered by Hurricane Irma. She is safe in a shelter with a few friends and families and after a few more days will return to campus for her senior year at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, which hopefully wasn’t devastated too badly and will be able to return to “normal.” By the time I went to get her a flight home, they were all sold out. I felt guilty about that but realized I had to let go of that guilt or I would be blocked from being present right here and now (many miles away in Maryland), and let go of the worry for her I was feeling – because it was all out of my control , there was nothing I could do but pray for her and the countless others in Florida affected by the hurricane. I had to “let go and let God” – or release her to God’s care. But it’s not always easy to let go of guilt and worry – fears of past and future – and stay in the present so we can be of use to others and do God’s will.

Today also commemorates the anniversary of “9-11,” the terrorist attacks in the US that occurred 16 years ago…and I’m sure for many it is still hard to let go of the grief that caused. And terrorist acts continue to occur in the Middle East, affecting many persecuted Christians who defend our faith and military who defend our freedom. I pray for all of them and their friends and families to have peace in these still-troubled times.

On another personal note, I recently had to let go of a resentment against someone who had caused harm against one of my family members and forgive that person. It took a year to completely “let go,” and while our relationship may never be what it was, at least I can be around this person without feeling angry or resentful. But I know deep down forgiveness works both ways – it not only frees the other person I forgive, but it frees me too.

I also have a hard time “letting go” of summer…my favorite time of year. Cooler weather is already setting in here in Maryland and for me, fall is bittersweet; even though it’s a lovely time of year, it means summer is gone and winter is on the way. I used to look back and have regrets about all of the things I didn’t do over the summer…but fortunately I have grown spiritually enough to be grateful for the things I did do, and let the rest go…and to appreciate autumn and not worry about winter.

Is there something – or someone – that you need to let go but can’t, that is holding you “bound” and blocking the sunlight of your spirit? I know it’s hard to let go (trust me, it has taken many years of practice and I’m a little better at it, but far from perfect!)…so I offer words from Psalm 46 to meditate on for all those having difficulty letting go of hurts, resentments, anger, worry, anxiety and fear – and pray for the victims of both Hurricanes Harvey & Irma: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’….The Lord Almighty is with us.” 

 

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