Bad case of FOMO

The social media feed never ends. Think about it…You were on your way to bed just last night and thought,

I have five minutes before it’s bedtime. I’ll just check my feed real quick since I haven’t been on since my lunch break. Maybe someone responded to my Marketplace post. I only have five minutes, and that’s plenty of time for me. I don’t need to be on here all night anyway. 

The first video you see is a church member’s post of their three-month old cooing back and forth with daddy. You couldn’t help but to read the comments of all your fellow church members who were just as in awe. The video itself was 2.5 minutes. By the time you stop reading all of the comments, you are now with one minute left to scroll.

Log off now? Of course not…that’s not fair. I only saw one post!

So you scroll…and scroll…and scroll.

I rather not go into the statistics behind our obsession with social media. We’ve all been told whether in lectures from classrooms, pulpits or family vacations that we are doomed, lazy and mindless. We know we are obsessed. The failure to admit this is absurd. Even if you deleted all of your social media, think about how many times you’ve had to reinstall the app on your phone. Better observation: how little control do we have of this fixation to be forced to delete the app rather than just not opening it?

I am most guilty of my obsession with these apps. Not just because everyone is doing it, but because of the pseudosecurity that it gives me. I would not naturally say that I am diagnosed with FOMO (“the Fear Of Missing Out”), yet when I have not opened my Instagram for 13 hours, I feel this unspoken pressure to log on. As if my virtual presence would suffice being with my good friend hundreds of miles away. The fear should still remain, because I am still in Tennessee while my friend is in Japan. I am still missing out on her experience, but now I secure myself in this virtual reality.  It is a real fear paired with an unrealistic comfort.

The art of unplugging gives us the real, authentic kind of security that we constantly seek. We see who is really in our circle. We see what our reality truly is. We see what God is really doing.

Your Circle

Loneliness has to be the most dreaded, yet most relatable feeling of every living being. Turn to your book shelf, movie collection, calendar, or even the zoo. There is always a relationship to be sought after, romantic or not. The idea of being alone absolutely scares us (even us introverts!). And…where do we often turn to cope with loneliness? You got it…social media. It usually goes something like this:

*People you may know*

Wow. I think I saw him in the cafeteria at work today.

*Add friend*

Can’t wait for him to respond. *Clicks page and begins to stalk*

YAY. HE ADDED ME!

I stalk him, He stalks me…now we KNOW each other. Even though, I have not talked to you about what I have observed, I pretty much know you. I mean, I get that everything I saw was my interpretation of what you wanted me to see, but I get that too. Now, let me like all of your pictures so you KNOW that I’m getting to know you. 

And boom. Your friend circle has widened. How insane. But how true?
My goodness…we do this over and over and over again. Never really getting to know anyone, but living in a reality of knowing everyone. Log off, and see who really knows you.

Your Reality

If you are anything like me, you have a comfy couch, Christmas lights and a bag of hot Cheetos in the middle of your brain. It’s your comfort zone. When things are tough externally, you run up there and hide. No one can enter in. Nothing can leave unless you want it to. It’s your safe place. You are fully in control of it at all times.

Now, whether we realize it or not, our minds are not a safe place. As much as we believe there are walls, there really isn’t any. There is actually a fence…a gated one, at that. We don’t have the key to the door, or maybe we do, we just can’t figure out which key is which. Sometimes we are inside the gate, and other times we step outside. But so does everything else that we allow our senses to experience. We want to be in control but constantly put ourselves in positions of complete powerlessness…especially with social media.

I would love to make reality be what I want it to. That is why my page looks like it does. That is why I smile the majority of the time…I would love to be as happy as I make myself appear. If only the split second of laughter could sum up my entire life story…it’s just not true.

Look back through your posts and look at that beautiful sunrise you captured from your beach trip. Now remember that same sunset you planned to post, but instead were in the bathroom wailing at life circumstances back home? Or the other picture of you dancing in the rain when five minutes after, you fall and bust your lip on the sidewalk, because the candid stuff was a little out of control. What about the “Happy Anniversary” post for your spouse when you really don’t even sleep in the same bed anymore?

What is real is real…we can post a billion different pictures of how we want life to be. Let’s try unplugging. Surely we can spend more energy making our quality of life better rather than the quality of our posts.

Our Calling

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”
1 Corinthians 2:9

No eye has seen (nor will ever see), no ear has heard (nor will ever hear), nor the heart of man imagine (nor will ever imagine) if we do not be with the One who has prepared for it all.

Sweet friends, we are scrolling because we are empty. We are trying to find some treasure at the end of the timeline, but I am here to calm your frenzy…you are looking in the wrong direction. It is not down at our phones but “To You I lift my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens!” (Ps. 123:1). If we flip through the pages of the Word of God like we do our timelines, we would be radiantly and unimaginably transformed.

 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

I challenge us to unplug. Let FOMO sink in, because if life is found at our fingertips, we are missing out on an incredible amount of living and that, indeed, should be feared.

Dark Mornings

This morning is one of many where I have waken up with knots of anxiety deep in my bosom. I feel very fragile and susceptible to danger. If I could describe it, I picture my heart as an open wound sucking air that needs to be filled.

Longing for hope, longing for purpose.

I wonder if it was a horrific dream that my alarm so graciously woke me from. Maybe it had nothing to do with sleep but the reality of waking up, in general. Are your nightmares sometimes easier to deal with than reality? Thoughts about the day ahead many times leave me paralyzed, constantly snoozing my alarm while hiding underneath my covers and between my myriad of pillows. My bed many times feels like a mighty fortress; a refuge amidst life’s great storms.

Not sure if I am alone in the amount of vulnerability I face, but I know that Jesus understood it perfectly during his time on Earth (Matt. 4:1-11; 26:36-46). But rather than running to a bed of rocks, he ran to the Bedrock.

God wants to be our fortress and our refuge. His protection is far more soft than a quilt and freshly-washed linens could ever be. His love is more comfortable than the fanciest memory-foam mattress topper out there. Boy, his grace is more sufficient than any sleep you have ever wished for. Above all, His presence can travel where our actual bed cannot. How do I get out of bed on days like these? I rest in one of many promises like this one…

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,

but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
he young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91

Limited but Free (ft. Qkirajah Robinson)

Black men, our beautiful black kings, even treat us as if they did not enter the world through our wombs…It hurts. 

As promised, this is Part Three to the three-part series Limited but Free, where three women will share about their experiences being a minority. They will also share how God has been a pivotal part of shaping their identity in a world that constantly tears them down. It brings me deep joy and pleasure to introduce to you one of the first friends I made upon entering college…Qkirajah!

If you ever meet Q, you won’t forget her. There’s a special something about her, I’m afraid my words will do an injustice. Q’s presence is powerful yet polite. She is a woman of few words but is known to speak her mind. She is the embodiment of beauty as well as pain. She has experienced death, yet brings life to so many around her. We share the love of food, basketball and all things introverted. Above all things, the girl is raw and the girl is real. Keep reading, you’ll see what I mean.


I feel as if the most appropriate way to start this post would be “WARNING: the following may offend some” but seeing as I have the freedom to openly express my feelings, I am not concerned with who will potentially be offended by this post. Truth be told, the ones who will have a problem after reading this probably need to be hit with a little reality anyways.

BETRAYED BY SOCIETY

Over the past few years, I’ve learned that as a black Christian woman, I can expect to be offended at least once a day. In fact, identifying one experience that I have felt disadvantaged in as a black woman is so difficult. It is impossible to even count the number of times I have walked into a room where I have had to prove myself before even introducing who I am. For example, how my hair is laid (not-laid), my posture, my slang (lack of), and the list continues.  However, because this is one of the specific tasks I have been assigned, I will only discuss a few.

IN THE CLASSROOM

There was a specific teacher I crossed paths with some years back in high school.  Now, I came into the class knowing that my interactions with this individual would be trying based off his pre-existing reputation. (Side note, I am not a confrontational person.  I never went into this class looking for problems.)  So, the situation surrounding this experience was that I had recently been out of school for months due to having open heart surgery, that of which he did not know.  I came into this class about half way into the semester.  Immediately preceding my arrival, this Caucasian instructor greets me with the comment, “Oh hello!  You must have been out making a baby, huh?”

I won’t go into details about the aftermath; however, just know that my parents made a trip downtown to have a conversation with the superintendent.  I will mention that he faced the “bare minimum” of consequences because of “who he was” (. . .maybe not who he was, but more-so the color of his skin). As a black girl, who was not in Christ at the time, my outer response was hateful, full of anger and wrath, and far from how Christ now calls me to respond.  Inside, I was hurt.  Not just by the fact that it happened to me, but I was hurt due to the realization that I had to be taught by an individual who already assumed the absolute worst of me simply because the color of my skin.

Regardless of the many academic awards I had won and my involvement in almost all the extra-curricular activities the school had to offer, he still viewed me as a black girl who was destined to be somebody’s baby mama. I had to fight every single day after that to earn an “A” in that course.  It took everything in me to hold my tongue when many comments were targeted towards me and other black individuals in the class.

…the absence of a black female leader in our church affects us. 

IN THE PEWS

Another thing that I would like to touch on is that the church is not excluded from this.  Even in the church, I have felt disadvantaged as a minority WOMAN.  Recently, a group of friends and I sat and discussed how much the absence of a black female leader in our church affects us.  We discussed the message it sends us as young black women, knowing that even within the church, the Bride of Christ, we are still at a disadvantage.  It hurts. But this is the broken world we live in (keyword = broken).

Sadly, the society we live in is not much different.  It is a part of the everyday struggle as a minority to live with the fact that regardless of how successful we are, our surroundings including the leadership in our country, the jobs we’ll have, the people we’ll interact with on an everyday basis will always treat and view us as inferior in some way.  Black men, our beautiful black kings, even treat us as if they did not enter the world through our wombs.  It seems as if they feel more valuable or important when they have a white or non-black woman on their arm.  This is the standard that our society has created.  It hurts.

CAPTURED BY THE CROSS

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)

As a black, Christian woman, I have learned to expect to be offended.  To not expect offenses would just be ignorant.  Jesus Christ went to the cross and died as an innocent, perfect man because he loved me that much and I still offend him daily. So again, for me to not expect offenses is ignorant and unrealistic.

But being offended has started to become a beautiful thing for me. Being offended reiterates the Gospel in my life.  It points me back to the Cross.  I find it comforting that I can take my hurt to a God that has been constant.  I find it powerful that no matter how much the world puts me at a disadvantage, I’ll never be at a disadvantage in the eyes of a God that has overcome the world.  I find it freeing that my identity no longer lies within the way the world views black women, but my identity is in Christ and Christ alone. The One who died a death I deserved.  The One who goes before me to fight my battles.  The One who has already claimed victory for me.  My one and only Savior.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers,
they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. 
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you . . .”
(Isaiah 43:1-4)

Limited but Free (ft. Jessica Moreira)

The two languages that roll off my tongue connect me to two cultures but house me in neither.

As promised, this is Part Two to the three-part series Limited but Free, where three women will share about their experiences being a minority. They will also share how God has been a pivotal part of shaping their identity in a world that constantly tears them down. It brings me deep joy and pleasure to introduce to you yet another one of my partners in Christ…Jessica Moreira!

Jess has been rocking it with me for the past three years at the University of Memphis. She enjoys creative tasks, cooking adventures, sharing her faith and loving her peers. I was graced with her presence this past summer as we were ministry partners in South Africa. Her warming hospitality and contagious laugh will leave a lasting mark on whomever she encounters. Jessica is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. I am honored to share her story.


Misconstrued Identity and Belonging

Being a triple minority in our society is hard, and being one in Memphis, Tennessee makes it a little more difficult. While I cling to truth when the devil tries to fill my mind with lies, I still face daily struggles as a minority. When asked where I am from, my answer is never good enough. It goes something like this:

“Jessica, where are you from?”

“I’m from California.”

“No, where are you really from?”

Although I’ve had this conversation multiple times, and I am proud to say that I’m Salvadorian-American, I feel like I am being pushed away from my home based on my face and my accent. While the goal isn’t to blend in, my identity is often misconstrued because I don’t look or act American enough, even though this is the only home I’ve ever known. The two languages that roll off my tongue connect me to two cultures but house me in neither. It is not okay for people to feel shameful or less-than in their home country. When asked my ethnicity, my answer is a little more complex than average, and I want people to recognize that.

Overlooked, Misunderstood and Boxed In

I was born in California, relocated to Nashville, and currently reside in Memphis. Even more, I am proud to be a first-generation, Salvadorian-American in a four-year university.  Although some of the following statements sound rude, they are real assumptions that I have encountered by people who have no desire or care to learn:

No, El Salvador isn’t in Mexico.
No, my parents don’t only speak Spanish.
No, I don’t love spicy food.
No, you don’t know about my heritage just because you eat guacamole and drink margaritas.
No, you don’t know my heritage based on what you see on the news and what your president tells you about my people.
No, you don’t know my heritage just because you’ve been on a mission trip to Central America.

I am rarely asked questions about my heritage, differences about my country, or family traditions. If I want to be known, I have to initiate conversations or my story will be overlooked. As a latino minority, I feel like I have to work twice as hard to be set apart and seen as slightly equal. It is tiring to be forced to adapt to everyone else’s ways simply because my heritage is not understood. My differences should be noticed and appreciated.

I get to enjoy and experience him in so many different ways that others may never be able to.

Free. Loved. Understood. Accepted.

However, in knowing Christ and his truth-filled promises for my life, I am able to tackle and overcome the struggles I face as a Christian, Latina woman. The anger that begins to fill my mind and heart when someone treats me unfairly, discriminates against me, or doesn’t allow me to be who I am is only calmed by the sweet aroma of Christ. Hiding God’s word in our hearts is vital. If we don’t, we will easily believe the lies the world tells us. When I feel like I don’t belong or have a voice, I have to remind myself that my worldly identity was traded by the precious act of adoption. I am now a Daughter of the Most high, who is deeply loved, never misunderstood, and always accepted.

I am given the freedom to feel and express my emotions without shame. I am still a christian latina and I don’t ever have to give that up, but now my identity holds so much more weight and meaning. My God, who created the world and its continents did not intend for us to all be the same, yet he uniquely placed us in different parts of the world with different stories, to ultimately bring him glory and showcase his greatness. I get to enjoy and experience him in so many different ways that others may never be able to.

I can live in the confidence that I am loved by God (1 John 4:10).
He says that I am his daughter and he chose me (John 1:12).
I am holy and dearly loved and he’s given me a home (Col. 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4).
Although I love both of the countries that I am tied to, Christ reminds me that those are my temporary homes, as I am not of this world (1 Peter 2:11).
When he chose me, he bought me with the price of his precious blood and I now belong to him (1 Corinthians 6:19;20; 7:23).
Because I’ve been given full access to the God of the universe, I can freely come to him in prayer and be comforted (Eph 2:18).
I don’t have to fight to be known by man because he already knows me, cares for me, and dwells in me (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19).
He’s been thinking for me since before I was conceived, and I can trust that his plans for me are good (Ps. 139).

My prayer and encouragement is that we accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted us, in order to bring the highest praise to him (Romans 15:7). Let’s embrace our differences and learn from each other. Let us not forget that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). We are called to a higher calling. We have been given exceedingly great and precious promises by God by which we are partakers of his divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). We are not alone and we may approach God with boldness, freedom, and confidence (Eph. 3:12). Despite the color of our skin or walk of life, Christ is our common ground and that is enough.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:5-11

Yours truly,
Jessica

Limited but Free (ft. Mpho Moepadira)

Know that Christ sees us as worthy and that is all that truly matters

As promised, this is Part One to the three-part series Limited but Free, where three women will share about their experiences being a minority. They will also share how God has been a pivotal part of shaping their identity in a world that constantly tears them down. It brings me deep joy and pleasure to introduce to you one of the dearest of my friends, all the way from South Africa, Mpho Moepadira.

I have known Mpho all of two months, but it has felt like a lifetime. Her joyful spirit is contagious, and she lacks no ounce of passion. Though I love everything about her, I am especially fond of her ability to find the good in any situation. I can be very realistic and a bit negative at times, but after one conversation with her, my hope and faith in Christ is renewed. She is brilliant, vibrant and loving. Mpho truly embodies the entirety of a phenomenal black woman.


Worldly Limitations

Being a black woman in South Africa is so beautiful, but you also get so frustrated that times have not changed much since how women were viewed in the past and how our minds are still conditioned to being less to other races and the opposite gender. The truth is that we are SO worthy and wonderful. Nevertheless, I still face tragic situations that easily make me so angry.

I have encountered a couple of incidents where I have felt disadvantaged in and given less opportunity because of my gender and color. It’s a double-whammy. For example, the constant pressure of having to succeed in all aspects of life, whether be it sports or academics. I carry the weight of every other woman and feel the need to ensure that I do not fail because the minute I do, it goes back to “girls are not good in sports” or “girls cannot be managers of big businesses”.

Being a Christian black woman also has other assumptions. Stereotypes make us out to be a pushover and boring. Who said Christians are unable to have fun? We also get viewed by some men that our role belongs in the kitchen and with the children only. It almost seems as if women are less important than their husband.

Eternal Freedom

All these views are faulty. Some of my favorite scriptures that combat these lies are found in Genesis. Genesis 1:27 states,

“God created mankind in his own image…so that they may rule…over all creation…”

This clearly indicates that women were also made to rule and have responsibility. Although the roles may be different (Genesis 3:16-19, woman carrying the entire future of humanity; and man having to provide and take care of his household), we are just as vital and important to God’s plan. In 1 Corinthians 6, God also makes it clear that we as his children have the right to do anything, and yet more importantly in Galatians that Christ has set us free (5:1)

We should not allow ourselves to be burdened by the yoke of slavery ever again. All of these Scriptures indicate that we are already free from how society dictates us as an inferior people. It so important to cling onto the truth, that our identity is found in Christ. Everything that we are and are not is truly summed up by God’s powerful word. Know that Christ sees us as worthy and that is all that matters. Even when we do fall short, failure is not what defines us anymore. Praise be to God that this eternal truth of freedom can never be taken away from us!

Yours truly,
Mpho