The problem with FOMO and Wanderlust

I was talking with some people in London about travel, and my experiences. I don’t know where or how it happened but I got up on my high horse named Harry the Jerk and started saying things along the lines of:
“Yeah, some people in Texas are born, raised and die in Texas. They never leave. They never travel. They miss out on so much. I feel bad for them.”

I’m still kind of embarrassed.

There’s two cultural phenomenons that shaped my judgmental thinking: FOMO and Wanderlust.

1. FOMO

Look,  the sweet old lady who was born, raised and died in the same house but spent time with Christ every morning is better off than any well-traveled person who doesn’t know Christ. When we die, what’s going to  matter? How many stamps are on our passport? How many souvenirs we got? How many times we traveled on a plane? No, none of it will matter. The old lady didn’t miss a thing because she had Christ. And if we miss Christ, we miss everything.  1 Cor. 13 doesn’t mention travel, but I can just hear it “Even if I had traveled the whole world, seen every city and every world wonder, if I did not have love, I would be nothing.”  If we don’t love, pursue and seek to know Christ better we’re missing the point. Don’t let the world convince you that there are “better things out there.”

2. Wanderlust:.

God created the world, and sometimes I believe we worship the world instead of Him. We idolize a  country, an experience, a trip. We expect a vacation to Disney World to satisfy us but we leave Orlando with empty pockets and weird tan lines. As far as what I understand wanderlust to be, it’s a desire to travel the world. Which is great. nothing wrong with that, but it can be dangerous. Just like trying to find satisfaction in money, food, acceptance: we’re going to end up empty handed if we try and fill the God-shaped hole in us with traveling. It might be fun, it might ‘wet our whistle’ but traveling with the intention of finding “that place” or having “that experience” might just leave us empty handed, frustrated and tired.

Let me just kick wanderlust in the butt right now. There’s nothing, no country,  no city, no community, no experience that is going to satisfy you more than Christ will. That trek through the Himalayas? No. that 7 day cruise? no. The 5 day all paid expense trip to Europe? Nope. Are those things wrong? No. But it’s important to check your motives before you travel. What are your expectations? Why are you going? No vacation is going to save a family, no new place is going to solve your problems, no new experience is going to satisfy you in the same way that Christ can.

So what does this mean, marlie? You want me to sit in my room and read my Bible all day, all night, and never leave the house? Of course not. I have good news.

God is everywhere. He’s in your math class, he’s at your 9 to 5 job and in your church, He is in London, India, Indiana, Texas, He’s everywhere. As you travel, you can and should seek to experience God in new ways. My favorite part of my 3 months in London was the time I spent in Glencoe, Scotland. We were in the Scottish Highlands and we stayed in a hotel that was in a valley between snow-capped mountains. I spent my time by the river, surrounded by God’s creation and God himself. That time with God was better than any show, any food, anything I experienced that whole 3 months.

Did I have an amazing time abroad? yes!  And that’s okay. If I see the World and can travel more in the future then awesome, but if not that’s fine too.  Because God is not bound by walls or barriers. And that is great news. He is everywhere and we can experience Him wherever we are. Trust that He has you exactly where you are for a reason.

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I Dreamed a Dream…

I was on campus this last weekend, seeing all my friends who I hadn’t seen since December. One of my friends, who studied abroad last year in London, skipped the “hey, how was London?” that most people asked and instead asked “Does it feel like a dream yet?”  The question struck me deep. I had to choke some tears down because she was spot on. That question had articulated what I’ve been feeling the last two weeks since being home. London felt like one crazy awesome, amazing, challenging and life-changing dream. I’ve got nothing to show for it but a few-tshirts, train tickets that are in my purse, my oyster card that i keep out of habit,  and a lot of photos.  Memories from the trip run through my head constantly. They are blurry and details are fuzzy. It’s like waking up from an actual dream. It seems so clear and real in your head, but when you wake up and think about it throughout the day you can barely remember any of it. Psychologists say that when you wake up from a dream you immediately forget like almost half of it. That’s crazy to me. But, It’s true. This dream-like trip is now a blur of castles, cathedral tours, small english towns, tube rides, theater shows, ridiculous british reality tv, class tours, musuems, the coach trip, etc. And coming home has been one big wake up call.

Life in Texas has been a reality check: driving on the right side of the road, the heat, no Digestives at the store, Walmart, living in the suburbs versus Central London,the riots in Baltimore, politics, the 3 months of my friends lives that I missed. Each a reminder that I’m back, awake, in this reality that I spent the last 21 years in. But similar to dreams, throughout my day there are things that remind me of London. I’ll be walking down the street and see a squirrel or a pigeon, and a memory from walking through Hyde Park or the parks near our flats will  come to me out of nowhere. Yesterday, i was walking behind someone and they were smoking and I had huge flashback to the smoky streets of London. A song at a restaurant will take me back to the makeshift dance parties we had in our flat late in the evening. Playing cards with friends now reminds me of playing Dutch Blitz for hours on the coach trip. (because what else could you do in the Lake district?)

So, it might feel like a dream. But obviously I wasn’t asleep the last 3 months. I lost 10 lbs in London and that doesn’t happen by sleeping. That happens by living on the 4th floor, walking EVERYWHERE, and no fast food. Maybe I’m not doomed to forget everything. Even though the memories are not as clear as they once were, they certainly are not gone. And when I think they are, it just takes a little reminder (a song, a smell, a phrase) to rememeber the dream trip that was actually a reality