Thursday, September 24, 2009

Idols.

Do you have an idol?

I’ve had a few. Still do, in fact. From a distance, certain idols can look like wonderful things. They come disguised in all shapes and sizes—some of mine certainly looked praiseworthy. But they weren’t.

When I was fourteen, 5’5” and 110 pounds, I was convinced that I was overweight. Or at least, underfit. Do all girls go through that stage? Probably. In one form or another.

Those of you who know me now will laugh when I say I counted calories and spent a good hour and a half (at least) every day, exercising to burn off excess calories and “fat”. I followed a fat-free diet for a time, too—priding myself in all the creative ways I’d learned to cook without butter, oil, and other “nasties”.

Then the exercise. It all began in moderation. I found a beginner’s level Pilates program and stuck to it dutifully, exercising for half an hour to forty-five minutes a day. But the more I progressed—moving from the intermediate to the advanced program—the longer and longer I would spend until I was exercising for nearly two hours every day.

Crunches, of course, were the ultimate test of endurance in my book. I worked up to 104 in one stretch. I couldn’t have been more proud of myself. It was difficult—and I’d done it!

My dedication to running was unmatched. Even on the hottest days of the summer (think 97 degrees here) you could find me outside, tirelessly tracing laps around our five-acre property.

Exercise had become my religion. I convinced myself that I was doing it to be healthy. To teach myself discipline and self-control.

And the discipline was excellent. I’ve never had to regret that aspect of it. (It’s still a little hard for me to imagine how I found the time to exercise for that long every day, though! Especially in the midst of highschool.) But thoughts of fitness and perfection consumed me. Books on Pilates, health, and exercise were my choice reading material. Every time I went to the library, I checked out stacks of books on the subject.

That’s all I noticed about other people—how fit they were, and whether or not their calves jiggled when they took a step. (I’m not kidding.) I judged them by it, too.

Anything we put over God is an idol. Now, exercise has moved from the forefront of my priorities, but there are still other things that take preeminence over my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Even just my commitment to my daily schedule. It’s good to be on time—no one said it wasn’t—but when I’m running and running and never making time to talk to God—or when I put my schedule before other people—it’s no longer commendable.

God never said, “I’d like it if you’d use the leftover minutes at the end of the day to spend some time talking to me.” No! The command is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, your strength, and your mind. That’s kind of a tall order! And it demands that we put Him first—in every area of our lives. Which might mean giving up an exercise program or a music or game habit (you fill in the blanks!) in order to spend time with Him. Is it worth it? Absolutely!

For me, sometimes that means less sleep. Sometimes, it means putting aside a novel or turning off my music for a couple minutes. Or maybe it means a shorter phone conversation with a friend. Small sacrifices. But all done to ultimately make God the central focus of my life.

What are your idols?

5 comments:

Jared said...

My idol is reading random blogs, LOL. Stumbled across yours and its awesome. ;-)

Rick said...

lol @ Jared. Cool post, Jen.

KC said...

Define "idol". Of course we spend more time at our job than we do reading our bible, if that's what you mean.

The said...

Excellent posting. Can you recommend a book on the subject?

Anonymous said...

can we worship the idol and still love God?