My Fight Against FOMO

Written by Michelle Lai, Singapore

Do you have FOMO?

I first heard this acronym in my church last October, when a university student shared about her struggle to manage her time after entering university; she had to balance her studies, church activities, social activities, and quiet time with God.

FOMO stands for “fear of missing out”—in other words, it’s the fear of not being in the know of what is happening, or missing out on experiences which others seem to enjoy. You may experience FOMO in its various forms. For example, you may feel envious of what others have, so you say yes to every activity without much consideration.

When I heard the student’s sharing, I immediately recognized that I was struggling with the same thing. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I had to take two semesters off university, which meant missing out on classes, Christian Fellowship (CF), social gatherings, and other important events.

I remember feeling a wave of sadness when I realized that I was physically and mentally unable to take part in CF. As part of the executive community, I was supposed to be in charge of the Bible study curriculum. Knowing that I would not be able to implement the ideas I had for the curriculum disappointed me.

Sometimes, I felt so tired that I could not even meet my friends for a meal. Missing out on a year of school also meant that I would not be able to celebrate milestones together with them. When they graduated and started work, I would still be in university. When I saw my peers moving ahead with their lives, I couldn’t help but feel left behind.

I thought about all the “what ifs” and “what-could-have-beens”. If I did not have to take this break, I would have been able to complete my final year in school; I would have been able to contribute to CF; and most importantly, I would have been able to experience life with my friends.

As I grappled with these thoughts, I realized that the main reason why I was sad was that I was not going to graduate together with my peers. Though my friends tried to encourage me by saying that the extra time would pass very quickly, my heart was still unhappy and bitter because I knew that I would not be able to catch up with them.

But by focusing on not being left out, I lost sight of God. I forgot that serving God and being part of a Christian community was never about me to begin with. Though I had started out wanting to serve God, along the way I had become preoccupied about being indispensable to those around me. I forgot that God does not need anybody to do anything for Him. However, He delights in us and chooses to partner us in His work.

Right after that service, I prayed that God would remove FOMO from me and that I would recognize my feelings of sadness for what they were and deal with them. I prayed that I would get my priorities right. And I prayed for my friends and also for the CF even though I could not participate.

For a few months, I kept praying to God about the sadness I was feeling. He then opened my eyes to see the situation from another perspective—that this was my season of rest. He showed me that honoring Him didn’t just mean serving those around me, but it also meant resting, slowing down, and taking care of my health so that He could continue to use me for His glory.

By God’s grace, my condition has improved, and I returned to school a few weeks ago.

For everyone who fears being left behind, I would like to encourage you that although you may not always be “relevant” to the people or activities around you, you will always be relevant to God no matter what season of life you are in. God will not miss any of us out.

Each of us has our own path to walk on earth. Let’s worry about whether we’re seeking God at every moment instead of worrying about whether we’re part of the “in” crowd or the latest happening.



I Wanted to Sing, But God’s Track was Different

Written by Michelle Lai, Singapore

I had always loved singing and wanted to join the singing club in school. However, God had a different track in mind for me.

When I entered university in 2013, my Christian friends encouraged me to join the Christian Fellowship (CF). They even linked me up with a cell group leader whom I knew. But there was a problem—I had no intention of joining CF. I secretly thought that joining a Christian community in university was uncool.  In my mind, I imagined a group of people reading the Bible together every week. As someone who wanted to be seen as cool and trendy, I definitely did not want to be part of that.

Instead, I wanted to join the school’s singing club. I envisioned myself on stage singing one day. You see, I have always loved the “emotional” experience that singing brings whenever I sing with friends and allow the music and lyrics to “speak” to me. I wanted to spread that infectious feeling on stage. I was so convinced that I wanted to join the singing club and not CF that I decided to message the cell group leader to inform her of my decision.

I might have forgotten to mention one thing, though: I could not sing to save my life. I had no background in music. My singing voice was of a higher register, while most songs suited those who had a lower register.

I remember feeling very disappointed when I did not pass the audition for the singing club. The senior, who was conducting the audition, had asked me if I could play a musical instrument. I felt useless because I couldn’t—plus the fact I did not understand the musical terms used.

Still, I wanted to experience what it was like to be “cool” in university, so I decided to join my friends to drink and party. But one night was all it took to change my mind.  As I watched my friends lose control of themselves after drinking, I decided that was not how I wanted to live. Besides, those were expensive and unhealthy habits.

While I remained friends with those who had hobbies vastly different from mine, I wondered what else there was to life aside from just partying and studying. I began to question my identity and took a hard look at what I was doing in my life at the time. That was when I realized my need for a community with similar values to anchor me and help me navigate the confusing path of adulthood. It was then that I decided to join CF.

Once again, I wanted sing in the worship team. In fact, I was given the opportunity, but that didn’t last either. A couple of my seniors gave me feedback that I had failed to help people to worship God because I kept singing out of tune. After that session, I knew that God had not called me to lead worship.

After that, I was given many opportunities by my seniors to serve in different areas. I was determined to heed the advice of the words I had seen on an Instagram post: “Bloom where you are planted.”

As I started to examine my strengths and weaknesses objectively, I became an active CF member and eventually stepped up to be a cell group leader. I also became a part of the encouragement ministry in CF where we pray for the group, write notes of encouragement, pack welfare packs, and organize bonding activities.

Studying the Bible—which I initially thought was uncool—helped me develop my love for God’s Word. Over time, God showed me that I did not have to be fixated on the one talent that I did not have (singing). If we respond in faithful obedience, He will show us our gifts that can be used to honor Him.

Slowly, it dawned on me that writing poems was a way to express myself and offer praise and honor to Him. As I posted my poems on social media, I received some positive feedback from my friends. My best friend—a non-believer—told that it was encouraging for her to read about my faith and my God, and how my belief helped me in times of struggles. It amazed me that God could use my poems to reach my non-believing friends!

I started my university life wanting it to be the most thrilling and cool years of my life, and in the end, God fulfilled it—but not in the way I had envisioned. By His grace, I had numerous opportunities to identify my weaknesses and develop my strengths. These experiences shaped me and I hope they will continue to guide me in the future, especially for my future job. That said, I know that I do not have to worry, because God can use anybody who is willing to be molded by Him.

Here’s a poem God convicted me to write that describes this journey I went through.

Shape of Me

The Potter molded me
What is my destiny
I was formed from dust
Tell me
Would I last
I wanted to be a vase
To keep flowers in place
But the Potter had other plans
He told me to trust in His hands
He molded me into a jug
To be honest
I was not smug
I questioned the Potter’s hands
I wondered what were His plans
What else is He molding
Other than my shape
Something deep within me
He is changing me instead
He said the purpose of all these
Is to draw me to Himself
He delights in me
And now I accept myself

Poem: Salvation


Written By Michelle Lai

Close your eyes and see
The hour you first believed
Jesus knocked on your heart
You answered and that’s a start
Salvation is a free gift for all
If only you answer His call
It is a precious gift
So don’t give it a miss
The moment might be now
You were lost but now found
Wherever you might be
Jesus has set you free
I want to worship now

There is nothing sweeter than this

Click on the image or click here to download.


Depression Led Me to Jesus

Written by Michelle Lai, Singapore

My depression started in December 2006; there was no trigger. I just remember feeling sad on a school trip to Japan and tired all the time.

It continued on into 2007, the year of my O-level exams. I had brain fog and I could not concentrate; I often had to re-read sentences. This affected my studies and subsequently, even my relationships. There was a constant dull pain in my chest, and I felt like crying or vomiting all the time. I remember crying and vomiting on my Biology textbook the day before the exams as I tried in vain to prepare.

By that time, I was so depressed that I applied to a school which very few of my classmates were going to, as I just wanted to get away from everybody I knew. I did not expect to make it to junior college because of my situation. Miraculously, I did well in my exams and was accepted into a Christian junior college.

But when lessons at the new school started, I skipped classes. I did not know that I was depressed at the time. All I knew was that something was wrong and I really needed help. I did not know where to find help, so I sought escape instead. I would either lie to my parents that there was no school, or I would wander the neighborhood in my school uniform instead of attending school.

One day, my teacher called me on the phone and said that he wanted to talk to me about my attendance in school. He wanted to know if I was facing any problems. After talking to me, he gently suggested that I see the school counselor. The school counselor suspected that I had depression and referred me to a doctor. Eventually, I was diagnosed with Major Depression and I was given medication to take.

During one of my counselling sessions with the school counselor, she asked me if I knew God and what Jesus had done on the cross. I replied that I understood a little, as all the schools I had attended were Christian schools. I remember crying in primary school during a Good Friday service when I first heard about Jesus dying on the cross. Back then however, I told myself that I could not accept Christ as I did not want to upset my mother, who was of another religion. So when my school counselor told me that God—not just my family—loved me so deeply that He sent His Son to die on the cross for me so that I can have life in abundance, I simply nodded.

Sometime later, my mum asked my uncle to bring me to church; she felt that her god and religion were not helping me. But she had one condition: I was only to visit church, but not to become a Christian. So I went to church with my uncle and listened to sermons.

I also started reading an autobiographical book about a woman who escaped from a cult. Though the book did not mention Jesus, reading it made me feel very blessed to be in an environment where I could know God, the one who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for our sins. This led me to accept Christ in my heart and I prayed to receive Christ at the next counselling session. Although I was worried about my mother’s reaction, I decided to tell her. Sure enough, she was unhappy, but thankfully, she did not scold or hit me.

Today, my depression is under control with the help of medication and I consider myself healed as I am functional and well. I do my quiet time daily and I meditate on God’s words and promises whenever negative thoughts enter my mind. I also think of my journey battling depression and how God has constantly shown me mercy and grace though it all.

As I look back, I realize that I would never have become a Christian if I never had depression. While I’m not saying that depression is a good thing, I am reminded of Romans 8:28, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

My journey towards God is nothing short of miraculous. Without Him, I would never have gotten the results I got for my O-level exams; I would never have gone to the Christian Junior College; I would never have met my school counselor. Without God’s divine intervention, I would never have received timely treatment for my depression.

To add to the list of miracles from God, my mother now talks to me about Jesus and church, although she is not yet a believer. And not only does she allow me to be a Christian, she even encourages me in my walk.

Praise be to God!