What cancer has taught me about the joy of missing out (JOMO)

dog restingAs it turns out an antidote for the subject of my most recent post, FOMO (fearing of missing out), is JOMO (joy of missing out). JOMO is basically saying “no” to the push to stay busy and connected with whatever presents itself in order to say more ‘yeses’ to activities that are more in-line with our values and interests. Many are jumping on the JOMO wagon. Productivity gurus are incorporating JOMO in their training. Stressed out working moms have self-help books to achieve JOMO. CEOs are trying to find balance and enjoyment within the pressures of fierce business competition. It’s all part of a new cultural phenomenon – searching for peace and joy within a world of relentless busy-ness, competition, and high expectations.

At first blush the acronym, JOMO, seemed forced and naive to me; but then I realized that it was exactly what David, my husband, and I were attempting to do since my diagnosis of stage-4 cancer. Doubling down on the present and embracing joy is integral to the 3-part strategy my husband and I developed to cope and grow.

1. Pursue the best possible treatments for the best possible outcomes.
2. Double down on the present. Experience joy where we can find it.
3. Think deeply about eternity.

I highly recommend you read his post, For Whom the Bell Does Not Toll: Stage 4 cancer patients have another definition for victory.

And there is evidence that we are doing just that. Laughter has always been coveted in our relationship but there is now more of it as we appreciate grandson antics and their hilarious comments. There is more laughter as we look for the amusing in ourselves and others; reminding ourselves to not take ourselves too seriously. There is more laughter as we retell shared funny experiences. There is joy as we actively pursue our passion to see marginalized people treated with God-given dignity and value. There is joy as we worship in church. There is joy as we enjoy the natural beauty around our creek cabin. There is joy of family and friends. There is so much joy and delight in our lives that we’ve been blessed with. We are grateful. But ….

• This is easier to do if I’m not in pain
• This is easier to do when I have had some distance from a disappointing oncology appointment.
• This is easier to do because it is my story and not a loved one’s.

In other words, there is within the JOMO movement a limitation. There is an exclusion clause, unspoken but nonetheless imbedded in its good intentions. Stopping to smell the roses sometimes leads to being stung. Being stung too many times can lead to anaphylaxis. Smelling a rose must give way to getting help to breathe. There are life experiences that leave us limping along, breathless from the sheer pain and exhaustion of life’s journey. Sometimes I feel like that. JOMO becomes elusive at best and downright annoying at worst. And so I cry. (See: More on finding comfort from God.)

It’s here that the 3rd part of our strategy takes dominance over the “doubling down on the present.“ Thinking frequently and intentionally about eternal life with the God who loves me is fundamental to any nod of acceptance and significance that I give to JOMO.
“So Heavenly-minded that a person is no earthly good” is not born out in the course of my life nor for countless others. It’s quite the opposite: becoming more heavenly-minded has prompted the Jesus-committed to do what can be done to effect positive change in this world while at the same realizing that Christ will ultimately set all things right. And some have made great sacrifices to that end.

But what about the fear of missing out on all the beauty and companionship of this world?

flowering dogwoods texasMany years ago, my two young daughters and I were riding our bikes together in our neighborhood. The balmy gentle breeze of a Virginia springtime with its blooming azaleas and dogwoods, greening weeping willows, and scented pine and magnolia underscored the laughter of my girls. I was filled with an inexpressible Joy. I remember silently thanking God while at the same time bemoaning that it wasn’t going to be ours for long. A transfer to another location in the country was imminent.

I longed for permanence in beauty and perfection. It was then that I realized for the first time that the aroma of magnolias and the music of a child’s laughter were only clues and hints of glory – not yet fulfilled nor meant to be. He has placed “eternity in our hearts”. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) The permanent, perfect, and pure in love and beauty would my inheritance. I think I can wait. Lord, help me wait.

8 thoughts on “From FOMO to JOMO

  1. Susan Snyder December 10, 2019 / 6:58 am

    I love what you have to say, what you write is apparent of the reality of who you are and what you are becoming through the heart changing power of the Holy Spirit. I love you, my sister in Christ!

  2. Michele December 10, 2019 / 8:09 am

    Love this.

  3. Anonymous December 10, 2019 / 9:45 am

    A perfect read on my very crisp morning. I am mindful that the daily joy and delight in God’s blessings of this day that I pray for you and David should also be our personal prayers for ourselves. The lyrics of an old hymn comes to mind when I think of our JOY moments…
    “ Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
    Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!…This is our story!”
    Love you!!!

  4. Julie December 10, 2019 / 11:49 am

    Dona. I enjoy hearing your voice in your writing so much! Your penetrating thoughts and wise reflections really shine His light into those dark corners and coax out the thoughts we all grapple with in one way or another. It draws me into a deeper conversation with God. The thought I have this morning is Joy came to Job though he never could’ve imagined it would, reminds me that our Father delights in restoring Joy beyond measure . Merry Christmas Dona!

  5. Anonymous December 10, 2019 / 2:51 pm

    Thanks, Dona. This is beautifully written.

  6. Joyce N December 10, 2019 / 6:47 pm

    So beautifully expressed, Dona. You point us to Him and to the good things He gives us to enjoy while in this world. May your words, Dona, help many as they too try to find the way amongst life’s difficulties. You are a blessing. May you and David be blessed.

  7. Anonymous December 11, 2019 / 4:48 pm

    I love how eloquent your writing is bringing us along on the journey with you with enlightened understanding.of your struggles and victories help us with our own. Bless you and David. I hope you have a beautiful and love-filled Christmas. Debi

  8. Willow December 16, 2019 / 2:21 am

    Hi Dona,
    Once again, your words of comfort seem to be for me tonight.
    Tonight was”the “longest Night Service” and I Was missing out.
    My own doing. JOMO came when grands came by to help me wrap presents. Thank you for your Blogs—Love you♥️

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