Monday, September 3, 2012

Idols in the closet

I made a beautiful friend this summer. Beautiful in the truest sense of the world - where you look at them and think that they are a very rare gem in the midst of a cloudy, smokey haze. He rubbed off on me, and I think he challenged me with my own personal "idols in the closet." It's through conversations with him, reading Timothy Keller's Counterfeit Gods, and through a vision or dream that God was humbly teaching me about "idols" - something that, I believe, often seems irrelevant today without "graven images". ha.

All of this to say, well really - to confess - that I believe that I have made romance/a need to feel love/having a husband/getting married/whatever you want to call this - into an idol. It's something that often consumes my time, that I get wrapped up in, or at least, I used to. It's definitely something I've started to break free from, but it was also something that controlled me for a while too.

I think it's dangerous to say things like, "There's no greater thing than to have loved and to be loved." You know - perhaps there isn't, but it's not from another person that you'll get the greatest love. It's from God. And when we start trying to put other things in the way of that love, then they become a distraction from our truest selves, from our truest life, from the only life worth living. And the only husband worth having.

See - I wrote down a dream I had a while ago, and interpreted it in a way that I don't think quite fit. Here's my dream once again: "In my vision, I saw a figure. Misfigured, made up of layer upon layer of fat, covered in smoker's stains, abused, beaten, tainted, dirty, unwanted. It was so hideous and ugly that I could barely make out the gender of it. Yet I knew that the thing was me - it was me "in my sin".

I carried the burdens of a thousand years of guilt, yet as I looked upon this figure of myself, I was sorrowful. And I realized that I was sitting at the foot of the cross. And my soul longed to be rid of who I was, of this body that I felt did not belong to me.

Suddenly I began to shed. The layers of skin and fat and grime and dirt and bruises fell off of me. Everything fell off of me until there I was. I was me - only better. I was the most perfect version of myself I'd ever seen. And I was naked and beautiful and dancing while laughing and smiling in the glory of the cross. I felt as if this was perhaps what my soul looked like when I first fully accepted Christ and delighted in him completely.

And then Jesus looked on me and smiled. He held me in his arms and I felt as if he desired me... ahem... sexually. He wanted me to be united to him completely. I felt as if this was the kind of desire a husband would have for his wife on his wedding night, only it was God's desire for me.

But I was scared. I didn't think I was worthy enough and I resisted. I ran away to someone else and tried to marry him instead - but I was so unhappy. It didn't satisfy me in any way that I wanted it to. It felt so... it felt like a dimmer version of what I had with Christ. As I fled Christ's glory for fear that I was unworthy of it, I fell into a darkness from being away from him, and a new layer of my old skin fell on me.

As I looked upon this new self, I became disheartened and sad. I realized that while I was scared of returning to Jesus, that I felt completely unworthy of his love, that I equally knew that I didn't want this extra burden upon me - and that a part of me longed for the joy I felt in his arms. So I returned. Only this time, it took a bit longer to get off that extra layer. Jesus had to scrub me, and I had to scrub too."

I think this dream reveals the heart of an idol. How the quest for our "soulmate" or the "perfect person" comes up so short. We will never be our truest selves when we pursue something besides Christ. We must be fully united with Him in order to come to understand everything else around us as Christians. It is only in our fullest unity with Him that we will become our fullest selves and thus live our fullest lives. Without that, we are nothing.

I think a second lesson can be taken from this dream. That the disappointment I suffered from the man I fled to - I think this is representative of the disappointments people experience in marriage when they discover that the person is not the "god-like" person they thought they would be. They aren't perfect, they make mistakes, and it's really super hard to love them and stick with them. I don't think that it makes marriage a bad thing though, just hard. And often worth it if you're willing to put in the effort - although it's certainly not easy. And it will hurt, and you may end up hating yourself and the other person for all the struggles you go through.

I think marriage and relationships are easily idols - idols of our culture and family and church even. And we must be willing to recognize that they can never ever ever satisfy us like Christ can. And He will satisfy you like no other.

Bring it on.

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