Once upon a time, I had a relationship that was very important to me. Let's call it Nnur. I have had similar relationships through the years, but this one was different. From the very beginning, I enjoyed Nnur so very much. We just had a connection. I know it sounds cliche, but when I was with Nnur, nothing else seemed to matter. I wanted to spend time with Nnur, and I made our relationship a priority. Nnur helped me with all sorts of issues in my life - issues that no one else seemed to be able to manage. My love grew and grew until I needed to be with Nnur. Almost every day. I made it a priority. I had to. Nnur was important to me, and I really needed Nnur.
One day, I woke up with a new companion. Let's call this one Pfffff. This relationship was different. Pfffff was hard to deal with. Pfffff stuck its nose where it didn't belong. While I get along easily with most, Pffff was very challenging for me to handle. At first, I ignored Pfffff. That didn't work. Then I talked to a couple friends and tried their suggestions. I worked really hard to do the right thing every day, but there was only minimal improvement in the relationship and it was so enormously frustrating. And painful. The hardest part, though, was the way Pfffff was affecting my relationship with Nnur. If I'm honest, that was the worst part. Pffff's annoyances got on my last nerve most days, but they also interfered with my time with Nnur. And I needed Nnur. I mean, Nnur was ministering to my soul in ways nothing else seemed to be able to.
So I prayed about it. "God, this is so frustrating. Why can't you just resolve this? You could get rid of Pffff if you wanted to. Or I can get rid of Pffff if you'll just tell me how. I'm willing to talk to a professional or spend money or whatever I need to do, but I HAVE to get rid of Pffff and fix my relationship with Nnur. I NEED NNUR. God, you know I do. You introduced me to Nnur and encouraged our relationship through the really hard days. Come on, help me out here. I NEED NNUR."
God's responded, "You need what? You need who? What about me? My child, do you remember the definition of an idol?"
My countenance fell flat as that ugly word reverberated in my head. Idol. Idol.
Sigh. "Yes, Lord. An idol is anything that I need more than you in my life."
He went on. "Yep. I gave you a great relationship with Nnur. But Nnur was getting in the way of us. It was hard for me to hear you talk about how much you loved Nnur and how much you needed Nnur. It was hard to see you make time every day to spend with Nnur but not with me. There's nothing wrong with loving Nnur, but your love for Nnur appeared stronger than your love for me. Sarah, Nnur was becoming an idol for you."
Ouch. That hurt. It hurt more than Pfffff ever had. But it was a better kind of hurt. The kind that brings healing after it is submitted to.
This may sound like fiction, but once I acknowledged the danger in my relationship with Nnur, my relationship with Pffff wasn't as arduous. Sure, it was a bit irritating at times, but nothing close to what it had been before. I learned to say, "I love God more than Nnur."
And, "It's okay that I don't have Nnur in my life right now."
And"Even if I never have Nnur again, that's okay. Because my relationship with God is more important than my relationship with Nnur."
That last statement was the hardest one to verbalize and accept. But Pfffff helped me do it. And I'm actually grateful for that.
I still hope Pfffff goes away soon. It would be great to spend some time with Nnur again. But I hope I can always remember the lesson Pffff taught me.
Even if I never have ______________ again in my life, that's okay. Because my relationship with God is more important than my relationship with _______________.
In my version of the story, Nnur is a pseudonym for running. Pfffff is a pseudonym for plantar fasciitis (an inflammatory condition along the bottom of the foot). What is Nnur and Pfffff in your version of the story? If you are willing to admit it, what relationship interferes in your relationship with God? Idols are not just little statues found in the corner of a room. No, idols are much more pervasive and accepted than that. For most of us, idols are objects, activities and people found in the middle of our every day. Regardless of what an idol looks like in my life or yours, God maintains his position. "No idols. No other gods. No other worship. Only me."