Riya was apprehensive for the first day in the new college hostel in Chennai. It was the first time she was away from her family in Kerala and she wondered how she would adjust to a new life. As weeks passed, Riya began interacting with other students in her hostel. She found it fascinating how they would all introduce themselves… Tisa from Thanjavur, Kin from Mizoram, Jashni from West Bengal, Vidhya from Tirupati . . . everyone was proud of their place of origin. Over the next couple of months, she began observing how there were so many cultural differences that arose among them- from the kind of food they liked to their body language and facial expressions and their sense of humor. Over time, Riya found herself understanding Tamil words and phrases, and enjoying their delicacies . . . Tamil eventually became part of Riya’s identity.

As part of society, we often act like cultural sponges incorporating cultural changes and trends as part of our constantly evolving identity. Our identity becomes our signature to the world, something that defines who we are. We get caught up with trendy Instagram bios – Sam; She/Her, Feminist, Delhi University, Pro-Life, dog-lover, Foodie, YOLO XOXO. The desire to be accepted by the community often influences how we identify ourselves and we face FOMO when we are unable to do so.

Be it the use of drugs, pornography, vulgar language, aggressive behaviors, overspending, extramarital affairs, premarital sex, disobeying parents, materialistic lifestyle… The list seems endless, the effects of FOMO remains the same, and everyone wants to give it a try.

the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) directs us to adopt new behaviors and attitudes getting swayed easily by trendy Insta bios.
But the effects of FOMO don’t just end there.

In the Bible, Daniel faced similar challenges. Like Riya, Daniel was a youngster when he moved from Jerusalem to Babylon. He had to quickly learn a new language, adjust to a new diet and learn to survive in a culture drastically different from his own. Daniel and his friends met with an identity crisis in a new land. They had to forgo their identities and adopt a new identity serving a new king with loyalty. It became the survival of the fittest in the king’s palace and to survive, you had to become a Babylonian.

The youngsters who were with Daniel quickly shed their old identities and began eating, drinking, and behaving like the Babylonians, the classic effects of FOMO. Daniel and his 3 Friends however found it difficult to do so. They realized how the food they ate was given to idols, and they refused to eat it, restricting themselves to fruits and water. In a race to win the favor of the king, what made them take such a stand?

Daniel and his friends were clear about their core identity. When their land, their language, their family, and their community was taken away from them, they held onto their faith in God. For them, their love for God was their core identity. Even when faced with insurmountable peer pressure to bend to foreign ways, they refused to let go of their faith in their God, speaking up even when what they believed in clashed with that of the king’s commandment. So proud were they of their faith that they were willing to face death rather than renounce God.

The song ”Dare to be like Daniel” calls us to stand alone in a world where everyone is rushing to become part of the crowd. Daring to have your Identity in God firm, and daring to make it known to others. Daniel was one to experience JOMO – the Joy of Missing out because he held himself firmly in the Lord. In a world where it’s trendy to abuse power, to live without any restrictions, to drink and make merry, where do we center ourselves? Where do we stand?

Moving to a different city, adjusting to a new culture, interacting with our peers and colleagues, we too face similar challenges like Daniel, to blend in and be part of the crowd. And while standing firm for your faith might often result in social isolation, bullying and loneliness, the God who saved Daniel from the lions den, continues to be the same God who takes care of each of us today.

Thus, even though Daniel has to face the repercussions for his identity in the Lord, God used him as a testimony of his faithfulness. Constant encouragement in my life is to remember the testimony of students like me who by their faith made an insurmountable impact on those around them.. As students, let each of our lives be an encouragement to one another as Christ is our identity.

Stuthi Lilian Joseph is doing her 2nd-year M.Sc Applied Psychology at Women’s Christian College, Chennai. Her passion is to involve with the students helping them to grow in faith and life.

1 Comment
  • Leena Simon
    Posted at 17:10h, 26 December Reply

    Praise God for using your life as a testimony to all the kids. Well written, Stuthi. God bless

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