Playing the Harlot

"An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, 'If I have that, then I'll feel my life has meaning, then I know I'll have value, then I'll feel significant and secure.'"

--Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power and the Only Hope that Matters (London: Dutton, 2009).

I miss my idols. Everything that I used to look and and tell myself, "If only..." "If only I were thin... If only I had a house... If only I had better things.. If only I could publish more... If only I were a full professor... If only I had read enough... If only I spoke more languages... If only I had written another book...then I would feel happy, loved, no longer an outsider. I would have made it. I would be somebody."

But they're all dead now. I don't believe in them anymore. They are so much colored paper and tinsel, gimcrack illusions of significance and love.

No, not quite. They are still good things. It is good to have lost so much weight these past four months. It is good to have a comfortable home. It is good to have published several articles this year. It would be good to be promoted. It would be good to have read some of the things that I still wish that I had. It would be good to be able to speak to people in something other than English. It would be good to write another book.

But it won't make any difference to the way that I feel about myself. It won't make me feel loved.

Not, of course, that I felt loved when I was so convinced that I needed all of these things. But...at least then I had an answer for why I was so anxious and insecure. At least then I knew (or thought I knew) what I needed in order for the uncomfortable feelings to go away. Now, now that I recognize all of these good things as idols--good in themselves, but finite in their ability to comfort or satisfy--now I have nothing standing between me and utter despair.

Except God, of course. Except that I don't always know whether I believe in God. What if God as I have imagined Him is yet another idol? Yet another counterfeit deity, no better than food or things or beauty or success for giving life meaning and joy? Yes, I have doubts. Great big doubts. World-order, cosmic-sized doubts about whether God's self-revelation through Jesus Christ is true.

But now, thanks to all of the decluttering that I've been doing in my soul, He's all I have left. My only hope for salvation and happiness.

And I don't even know whether He's real.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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