Like many of you, I feel isolated right now. There’s a deadly virus wreaking havoc on our lives, plans, schedules, jobs, economy, and health. It is unprecedented. It is anxiety inducing.

We are afraid.

We used to talk about fear in different ways. I’d say that I had FOMO or Fear of Missing Out, that something amazing was going on elsewhere in the world that I wasn’t invited to or didn’t have the chance to participate in. FOMO is real, it hurts feelings, it can affect relationships. But it requires a choice. I can choose to enjoy what I’ve chosen rather than pine for the perceived loss. I can choose to enjoy my company rather than long for the company of others. My years of practice fighting FOMO has prepared me for NOMO: the Necessity Of Missing Out.

FOMO is based in the tyranny of choice; the fact that we have more good or fun options than can ever be done in a day. NOMO is based in the lack of choice; social events have been cancelled, we’re not missing out or uninvited to anything. But both require a choice in our hearts: to feel purpose right where we are, with whom we are spending our days, for a greater purpose.

Most of you are experiencing NOMO in your own homes with roommates or families. Your jobs or schooling may have been cancelled or shifted to online formats. You spend your days with the same people. You are trying to fill the hours with something fun: new hobbies, house projects, crafts, or oodles of Netflix. Your couch may have a well born butt imprint by now!

NOMO is not fun, but it is necessary.

The concert, church service, comedy show, sports event, and/or happy hour cancellation can cause sadness. Like you, I too looked forward to many, many events planned over the next several weeks that have all been cancelled. But chose to believe that these cancellations have purpose. Choose to see the good in the missing out. Choose to love those you are with. You stay home to flatten the curve, to avoid infecting those who are vulnerable and immunocompromised. To give the health care industry a chance to keep up with the needs. You are buying time for manufacturing, tests, research, and treatment options and, in that you are saving lives. Your NOMO has purpose; believe in it.

Because I am experiencing a very different kind of NOMO. I work at a hospital. I don’t have free time, instead I’m working overtime. I am serving the littlest of patients and their families who are experiencing all the anxiety of COVID-19 AND cancer, brain surgery, preterm births, respiratory distress, and heart failure. My NOMO means that I’m missing out on couch time, on movie marathons, on crafting projects, and on boredom. I feel isolated from the rest of the world who is searching for something to fill their time. Instead, I’m searching for time to fill the immediate needs in front of me.

But my NOMO too also has purpose.

I practice the ministry of presence with those who are scared. I provide help and healing for kids post surgery, post diagnosis, post injury, and post extubation. I can choose to see the purpose in my work. I am choosing to feel the purpose of my NOMO of the shared experience of others.

It’s scary out there right now. There is a necessity that life feel different right now. But there is purpose behind it. Choose to find it and redeem your NOMO!

I received a gift of food for my colleagues and this note from some dear friends today. Alexis is a very wise ten year old… who made me cry today. She understands NOMO better than most!

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