You’ve heard of FOMO (fear of missing out), right? What about FOBO? The fear of being overlooked. The fear of being ignored or forgotten, of not being included.
The fear that all our hard work, our efforts, our striving will not be acknowledged. That YOU, that I, that WE will be unseen, unheard, unsung, and unnoticed. Fear we will be looked over or left out.
Fear of being passed over for a job promotion, a leadership role, or an opportunity. Not getting invited to the party or out to lunch with the girls. Not being chosen for the solo or the lead role. Not being asked to be on “the team” (and I’m not talking only sports here) or part of a group – like a neighborhood committee, ministry, PTA, or social circle.
The Factors of FOBO
While there is nothing “wrong” with wanting to be included (after all, we are designed for community), there is a problem when the thought of being overlooked causes us to fear; or we find our identity and worth in accomplishments, inclusion, titles, and the accolades of women and men. These feelings arise from insecurity, competition, and performance mentality – none of which are godly qualities.
The “F” Word
The first problem with FOBO is the “F” word – fear. One definition of fear is a “distressing emotion aroused by impending pain.” The pain, in this case, is the emotional pain of rejection and disappointment, the distress of being overlooked or forgotten. We are told over and over in the Bible “Do not fear” (Isaiah 43:1, Joshua 1:9, John 14:27) Do not fear man (Proverbs 29:25). Do not fear rejection (Romans 8:31-32). Do not fear or worry about anything (Philippians 4:6-7).
As believers, we are to have no fear except fear of the Lord (Ecclesiastes 12:13). And this is not “distressing emotion” or “shaking in your boots” type of fear but reverential fear of God (Psalm 33:8) – a deep respect, admiration, and awe for the power and might of our Creator.
Then There’s the “BO”… Being Overlooked
When we are overlooked, ignored, forgotten, or not included; the feelings of disappointment and rejection are real and can be painful. Scrolling through social media can trigger these feeling very quickly: Cindy and Wendy are out to lunch again. Samantha and Debbie started a small group. Jenny got the job promotion. Tammy and Felicia are part of the “in crowd.”
The enemy whispers those same old lies: “You’re not good enough.” “You didn’t do enough.” “You’re too fat, ugly, old, young, quiet, loud. Too ____ ( fill in the blank with the
supposed ‘flaw’ the enemy entangles your mind with).” He stirs up strife and competition: “Why her and not you?” “They don’t appreciate all you do.” “Why don’t they see you?” “Why doesn’t God see you?”
The feelings of exclusion and unworthiness rise to the surface. The little girl inside of us, screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!” “Look over here! Did you see what I did?” to no avail. The disappointments and failures of the past creep back up – what did I do wrong? Did I not meet their expectations? How much more can I give? When will they notice me? How can I be more ______?
N O T E N O U G H – the enemy taunts us
with thoughts of lack, negativity, and comparison. Over and over – trying to trap us with the same rhetoric. Attempting to make us doubt our worth and God’s Truth. Beckoning us to doubt our identity in Christ. To forget we are fearfully and wonderfully made – one of a kind – for God’s purpose.
The Fallout Of FOBO
When we act out of FOBO, we compare and compete. We end up fretting and faking our way into situations and invitations. Volunteering for the wrong task, the wrong group, the wrong ministry with the wrong people at the wrong time. All in our quest to be seen, acknowledged, and included. Leaving no time, space, or energy for our God-given assignment… the right task at the right time with the right people!
We over-commit, in the name of “good things” or service, disguising our desire to fill our need to be noticed or included. So we push, and we toil. Likely rearranging our God-given priorities to “meet a need.” Well, that need may have been someone else’s assignment, and now we have messed things up for both of us.
We worry what others think or say about us -leaving no room for what God is saying about us. We twist and contort ourselves into what we think they are “looking for.” We strive and struggle, desperately trying to fit in. But at what expense?
We end up outside of God’s will. Not carrying out of our Kingdom assignment. Not walking in our purpose. We take our focus off God and put it on ourselves – our own agenda – and man. And anything (even if it’s for a “good and noble” cause) that diverts us out of the will of God or takes our focus away from God and His truth will ultimately be detrimental to our soul, to our walk with Him.
So how do we combat FOBO? How do we get rid of our desire to be noticed? Our longing to “fit in”? Our need to belong? By realizing we already do. We are chosen children of the Most High (1 Peter 2:9). We are known and seen by the Creator of the universe. We belong to God, and we are included in the body of Christ.
Whose are you?
When we trust God and know Whose you are, fear has no place. We can proclaim we belong to God and the enemy has no power in our lives. We can confess and submit our concerns and worries to God and let Him handle the rest. Believe that He is in control, and we are secure in His hand
When our identity is set and firmly established in Christ, we will no longer feel the need to strive and compete. No need to envy or impress. No more pushing forward into the spotlight or hiding in the shadows or behind the masks we wear, trying to fit in. We will know who we are and what God says about us. We can patiently wait for God to promote us according to His plan and purpose.
Now I’m not saying walking in our identity is easy. No, it can be hard and painful work. (Been there; done that and still have to remind myself almost daily). Finding and keeping our identity in Christ takes time and effort, but it’s so worth it.
Where’s your security and worth?
Our affirmation must come from God. Our sense of value and belonging must be based on our identity in Christ. Our worth secured in the unique creation we are called to be. Not in our efforts and acceptance as both are momentary, fleeting and impossible to maintain. While we may not get the promotion or be invited to the party, included in the group, or selected for the position; we are wanted AND needed by God for Kingdom purpose. We always have a place at His table and invitation to commune with Him. There is a spot just for you!
We are never overlooked, forgotten, or ignored by God. He is always there. Always good. Always faithful. We must trust His timing and His way. We might be excluded from the group so we will include Him in our life. Isolated from a situation so He can prep us for an elevation. Subjected to pain and rejection in the present to preserve us for promise and promotion just ahead.
Do you want to move beyond FOBO (the fear of being overlooked)? I know I do!! But how?
The answer is found when we identify, establish, and walk out our identity in Christ.
We must choose to believe God’s Truth – what God says about us. Who He says we are in Christ, co-heirs to the Kingdom and all the promises of God. We need to set our focus on God and His plan – not on ourselves or the opinions of others. Trust God’s sovereignty over our lives. Rest in knowing He will fight
for us and with us to ensure our rightful place as His daughters and sons.
Knowing who we are in Christ is fundamental to overcoming FOBO and MANY other issues of the mind and soul we face. Shoring up our identity in Christ is transformation work for an eternal purpose and will lead to an abundant life here on earth.
If you need help, encouragement or want resources on your identity in Christ, read about my identity restoration journey here. How reciting these Truths from the Word of God over myself in the mirror and over my life altered me from the inside out!
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