I was reminded last week that I am an idolator. I have created an idol of my home, not only where it’s at geographically, Northern Washington, but how my home life functions as well.
Last week I set out to personally memorize Romans 8. I created a plan and even started a lovely study guide. I was determined and motivated. Nothing was going to warp my plans to commit to this very good and beneficial endeavor.
As one who struggles with anxiety/panic attacks, I am desperately aware that memorizing scripture is one of the best way to combat my anxiety or at least keep my anxiety at bay.
So, my goal was get scripture in my brain so that it would leak into my heart….and prayerfully with the power of the Holy Spirit…..keep myself from giving into crazy anxiety ridden thought patterns.
Then Tuesday happened. The second day of starting the plan to memorize Romans 8.
My husband calls me up from work and lets me know that he was solicited to participate in an instructor training class in New Mexico. He told me that the initial class runs two weeks long. On top of dealing with the initial stress of being husband-less for two weeks, he adds that he would have to stay in New Mexico for 90 days.
Meaning….we would move back to the desert…for 90 days.
Meaning…no quiet simple life for 90 days.
Meaning…. no church for 90 days.
Meaning… no green grass for 90 days.
Meaning 105 degree weather for 90 days.
Yep..9-0 days. 3 months.
Needless to say, I began panicking. I felt anxiety rise up almost immediately.
My husband had already turned down an opportunity and forgo-ed another opportunity for training because we had only been in our new home and state a few months and I was not ready to uproot our family for a week or so to follow hubby for work.
Now why would I uproot our family for 2 weeks?
One of the many reasons that I home school my kiddos is to allow for flexibility in our lives. I public schooled my first two children and remember all too well the dropping off and picking up at certain times. My work schedule and life literally revolved around when my children’s school time began and when it let out. Regardless of what my day looked like, university classes, work or gym, I knew I had to figure out how to drop my kids off at school and then pick them up later….every single day….day in day out. We were slaves to the school district’s schedule.
Forget about mid week or mid month out of town trips. With kids in public school, we took breaks from our daily life when the public school took breaks. That’s it. No spontaneity. No flexibility.
My husband and I have deliberately chosen to keep our family together as much as feasibly possible. If hubby has to go away for training for his job, we go with him. When we lived in the middle of no where in West Texas, it was a perfect opportunity to connect with the outside world and especially interact with people. We all craved it and looked forward to going with the hubby and leaving our isolated town and lives. Since we home schooled, we had the flexibility to do this.
On top of having the flexibility to keep our family together, our schedule revolves around things we choose or not choose to do. There is freedom in our day to get as much done, or as little done as we want. Most of the time, we get about a medium amount of things done- which includes the kids schooling, light cleaning, meal preparation, sewing, reading, and laundry.
I have come to enjoy my non fuss life. Quiet. No stress.
I have come to enjoy waking up at a not too early hour, drinking my herbal tea with cream and taking my time to get dressed and get our day started. I typically don’t start school with the kids until 10 am. We work until lunch. Take a nice quiet lunch break while I sit at the table chit chatting about nothing in particular with the kiddos. We start school back up around 1:30 until about 4pm. I will start some dinner or do a little bit of sewing before dinner if I know the prep time for dinner is short.
Hubby comes home around dinner time and we sit down for a nice quiet meal. Hubby and kiddos go outside for the daily evening puttering around the property doing odd chores. I do a little more sewing or reading. Kiddos take baths and we are all in bed by 9pm.
On hubby’s work days…that’s our day.
On Sunday’s we go to church, but the rest pretty much looks like the rest of the week.
That’s our life.
And….to be quite honest….I prefer it that way.
When the hubby said that my nice quiet daily life was going to be disrupted due to leaving our home and temporarily moving back to the desert with no church……..well it was just too much to think about emotionally…….so by Thursday of last week I shut down. Completely.
I used to be a binge/purge eater (aka bulimia). My life, prior to God saving me, was chaotic to say the least. I attempted to regain control over certain aspects of my life by engaging in the very destructive habit of purposely throwing up whenever I did not have any self control over my eating habits, which was rare because I methodically calculated every single calorie, fat gram, carbohydrate, and protein that I consumed. I kept journal after journal recording every thing I ate…for YEARS!
The rest of my life was in the poopers, but at least I only ate 35 grams of protein and 1200 calories a day. The control I had over food gave me false confidence and security.
When I did not have the willpower to not eat the entire bucket of popcorn at a movie theater, or ate too many baskets of chips and salsa at a restaurant, I would casually head on over to the bathroom to throw it all up because I refused to calculate the calories that I consumed. I didn’t want to have on record that I failed.
I no longer binge/purge but I still have the tendency to need to keep certain aspects of my life in my control. Fully.
When my husband let me know that we were going to have to move to NM for up to 3 months, I rejected it along with other things that I had a desire to do. My life was about to be turned upside down and I did not know how to regain control.
No longer was there motivation to memorize God’s very word.
No longer was there conviction to engage in deeply studying the passages in Romans 8.
I felt my world was becoming chaotic and I had no control over anything. I started to panic.
My thoughts were filled with “what if scenarios”.
Since I could not keep the “what if” questions from invading my brain, I picked up some fabric and started sewing. I didn’t want to think about the “what if’s”. I wanted peace and I knew that sewing gave me solace when we lived isolated lives in Texas, so I started sewing.
Where I once sewed casually and randomly, intermittent throughout my week…..I found myself in a situation where I needed to sew desperately.
I sewed all day Thursday and all day Friday. I made my daughter 5 tops. Made a random dress. Made myself a top. Made 2 or 3 other random tops, drafted 2 patterns, and journeyed to Joann’s Fabric store 3 days in a row.
It was not until Monday afternoon that realized I had been sewing like a mad woman. I started to process and analyze my actions and realized that I was using my sewing in the same way I binged/purged food when I struggled with bulimia. Since I could not control what was happening with my hubby’s potential training, I felt the desperate desire to control some aspect of my life.
After my 3rd trip to the fabric store, I called my sister and shared my frustration with how I was handling life’s curve balls. I expressed to her that I wanted scripture in my head to combat the “what if” scenarios when life hands me lemons or literally pulls the proverbial security rug right from under me. I don’t want to binge/purge things that I love, like sewing, but instead, I want to be of steady mind. I know only God’s word, help from the Holy Spirit and prayer will give me a steady mind but unfortunately I end up panicking first.
I want to default to a trust in God so deep that I am kept in perfect peace by keeping my mind on God. (Isaiah 26:3)
I have realized that I have created an idol out of my home and relaxed no fuss life. I have realized that our home here in Washington, and everything it brings with it, ease, comfort, peace, contentment, has replaced trusting in God and God alone for comfort, peace, and contentment.
The fact that my life felt chaotic and stressful due to a potential change in my immediate circumstance made me realize that am dealing with an idol I have produced in my heart.
My idol or idols are the very things God has graciously blessed me with.
A home. The ability to home school my children MY way. Time. Peace and quiet. My husband. A quiet non chaos life. Green grass. Tepid and extremely comfortable weather. People. Grocery stores.
None of these things are bad in of themselves. They are actually all quite good.
All of these things are good and wonderful gifts from my Father who loves me. I know that.
Yet…due to the idol making factory of my heart, I have easily turned God’s gifts into something I use to give me peace of mind.
I am thankful that God has allowed me to figure this out.
Yesterday, we found out that due a mix up my hubby does not have to go to New Mexico for training. I am relieved….but not because we don’t have to go……ok…maybe I am just a little bit relieved….
However….I am more relieved that God showed me what was in my heart. I am more relieved that God did not leave me alone to dwell in my anxiety but instead reminded me that He is my peace, He is my security, He is my home.
So…..with that said…..do you know what your idols are?
Most of us don’t.
Whenever we think of idols we tend to think that it’s what other people do, typically people from other countries, when they bow down in a prostrate posture in front a statue or carved image. Christians will tend to believe they are far better off than the outright idol-bow-ers.
Christians will also tend to think of idolatry when they see people spending lavish amounts of money on goods and services. They say these people worship money and the status they receive. Christians will assume they are far better off than those that worship money.
There is even a tendency for people to worship or idolize sports figures or sports in general. Of course, Christians will not admit to idolizing sports figures or sports in general and simply view their love of sports as a “fleeting superficial enjoyment”.
Or what about the theologian that strives to grow in Biblical maturity? As much as I love reformed theology, can loving a particular theology be considered an idol? I venture to say yes…it can.
Greg Dutcher said in his book, Killing Calvinism
“As a pastor, I have found that many Christians simply assume that learning more and more about the Bible and theology- Reformed theology in particular- is the same thing as growing as a disciple. It isn’t. Robust theology can be a powerful catalyst in this process, but like anything else, we can turn it into an idol. The danger is that while we may begin with Reformed theology as the framework by which we more coherently understand and appreciate our faith, over time it can become the substance of our faith. At that point, daily living is more about mastering Reformed doctrine than being mastered by Jesus and his total claim over every area of life.”
Is there anything wrong with digging into deep aspects of theology….of course not. But….as Dutcher points out, there is a danger in that the actual studying becomes the substance of our faith. No longer is it Jesus. Just the study of Jesus.
So, just as there is danger in the possibility of spending one’s live studying and trusting in a theology or doctrine as opposed to trusting in Christ alone, there is also a possibility for a Christian mother who adores and takes refuge in a home she created, who trains and molds her children “for the Lord”, and earnestly sets out to submit to her husband in all things……she can also be deceived into believing that all the good and hard work she does for her home and in her home will give her the ultimate satisfaction in life. She puts her trust in a home that she herself has created or carved out with the time she invests.
Do you believe that it is possible?
I believe that it is.
Just like my life was feeling out of control and chaotic due to a potential change in how my home and day is structured…..thus causing extreme amounts of anxiety, gave me a red flag that I was putting my trust in something other that Christ.
God gave me, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the ability to see it, accept it, and repent.
Are you brave enough to ask God to show you YOUR idols?
Remember when the Israelite’s created the carved image?
Remember that they had done nothing to deserve being saved and led by God out of Egypt?
Remember that they continually failed, grumbled and moaned at every possible turn of events?
Remember how God was patient with them?
Remember how God continued to show them their hearts.
Remember God chose them first, then gave them the commandment to not have any idols.
God had to etch into a rock, meaning permanent and ongoing, the directive to not create idols because we were made to worship. God himself gave us the desire to worship. It’s ingrained in our DNA. We can’t help it. It’s our default mode.
Our problem arises when we direct that worship to something other than God. God gave us the desire to worship because we were created to worship HIM.
Not carved idols.
Not theology, regardless of how good it is.
Not our homes.
Not our children.
Not our geographical location.
When God allows us to see our idols for what they are, first and foremost we should humbly fall to our knees and thank HIM for not leaving us alone in our idol worship.
Then be aware that our homes will not give us ultimate satisfaction.
Only Christ will.
Christ gives us the ultimate and final satisfaction in not only our homes but in our hearts and minds…giving us peace in the midst of chaos.
An idol will hide itself in the crevices of our heart and mind and make us believe that we are not idolators, especially if the idol is attached to good and honorable gifts from God.
The Bible, which are the very words of God and the power of His Holy Spirit will tell us otherwise.