Unearthing My Idols

I like to feel productive. Do you? But as commendable as that might sound, I know it can also become idolatrous--at least for me. Maybe some of you can relate. For me, most of my idols aren't apparent until I experience some kind of loss. When things are going well, I don't recognize them. But when some type of loss, pain, or tragedy enters my life, they stand out in stark relief.

Through these past 18 months, I have been going through my own journey of grief, even as we have welcomed Anah into our family. Because we were obeying the Lord and doing something good, it never crossed my mind that I would have to suffer grief. I thought that we could just incorporate her into our lives without too much difficulty. After all, she is older and not a newborn, right?

Wrong.

I won't go into all the details of the things I have lost. Suffice it to say that I have felt the loss of some dreams that are near and dear to my heart, much of which is related to this website. And these ideas were ones that I believe came from God.

The problem was not that they came from God, but that I looked to them and not God for my worth, identity and purpose. I had come to believe that what I did gave me purpose in life. However, when Anah came, all those dreams had to be set aside, if not permanently abandoned. I found myself mired down by all her many needs that drained all my physical, emotional and spiritual resources, so much so that I had little time for anything else, including my marriage, friendships and myself. Survival was and has been the goal in my life now. That and making sure the other kids had as smooth a transition as possible.

Instead of enjoying this season of my life, I found myself resenting it. Instead of bonding with Anah, I found myself feeling bitter towards her. I felt like God had short-changed me. Instead of enjoying the challenges of learning new things, writing my (of course) profound insights, and interacting with others, I found myself repeating the same thing over and over, cleaning up toileting accidents, and looking into blank eyes. How could He do this to me when I had served Him (I thought) so faithfully? It was cruel.

Because we now have Anah, not only have I lost much of what I enjoyed, our lives have had to slow down tremendously. With her, everything is extremely slow: dressing, bathing, toileting, eating, learning, and even moving. There is a lot of waiting involved whenever she is around. I cannot do what I want to do when I want to do it. Her slowness impinges on my agenda, chopping my time into tiny bits so that I do not have the long stretches of time to tackle a project, write a post, or study productively--or any of the life-giving things I once enjoyed doing.

So what has this got to do with idolatry? As I sat thinking about it this morning, I realized that because I was not able to have the time to do these big things, I felt unproductive. And when I felt unproductive, I felt like I was worthless. I had made my work, my productivity, my pride in being able to see my accomplishments my god instead of the Lord.

It is at this point then, that God has had to rebuke me by showing me the truth of what I was believing. Even though I know that my works cannot save me, I am still relying on my works to give me a sense of worth and value. I have replaced Him with something, while good, is lesser.

Ironically, since God has been revealing these unflattering truths about myself, I have found myself writing more, mostly in an effort to process and internalize them more deeply. (Sorry to have to drag you into this.) This is my third post this week (you can find the first one here and the second one here), which after a period of drought is pretty amazing. Even if no one but myself benefits from these ramblings, I know that God is preparing my heart so that one day, if He wills, I will have something worth reading and speaking about.

But first, He needs me to face the junk that is blocking the way, hardening my heart, and blinding my eyes. When I am willing to face the truth about my idols, confess my sin, and by His strength, get rid of them, then He will be able to minister to my soul, speak to my heart, and use me effectively to bless others. God is inviting me to take a fresh look at this new season I am in, to see the invisible benefits that are hidden in it. They are there, if I am willing to let go of my agenda, slow down, and let Him lead me on His own timeline.

And maybe that's the very first thing He wants to teach me. It isn't so much about what I can do for Anah. It may be more what she, as an agent of God's mercy, is doing in me.