Sorry this is so long, and there aren’t any pictures, but I just had to share! 🙂
Growing up in the church, I heard several sermons and youth group devos about idols. The second of the Ten Commandments talks about graven images or idols. The Israelites had this bad habit of worshiping the gods of other cultures and peoples. In fact, they made an idol to worship as Moses was on Mt. Sinai talking to God in this chapter!Of course, we don’t tend to create those types of idols now. In sermons and devos, our idols were money, popularity, a career or a lifestyle. For example, if money was your idol, then you might do sinful things or hurt other people to gain more money. If it was popularity, you may step on someone else to get to the top of the food chain. However, there was always some negative action included with the idol to make it an idol, so it was easy or at least obvious to avoid.
What if it wasn’t something bad, though? What if I was making a good thing in my life an idol? We have lots of good, even Christian, things in our lives that can be made into idols. An idol, to me, is anything you put your worth or your security into instead of God. I realized this weekend that one of the things I was making into an idol was my marriage.
Last Saturday, I was very upset with myself. I didn’t feel like I was a good wife because our marriage wasn’t this huge romantic movie scene all the time. I felt like if maybe I wasn’t so opinionated, or maybe if I looked different, or was better at things, then maybe Michael would adore me more like in the YouTube videos that I watch or the sweet stories I read online. I felt like a complete failure.
That night, as I was writing in my journal, I had an epiphany. A romantic, sweep-you-off-your-feet marriage love story is nice, but it’s not the main purpose of life. My main purpose is to love God. Then, as a close second, I am to love others. I am built for relationships (which is probably why my marriage is so important to me), but there is one relationship in particular that supersedes all others, that is the one with God.
Jesus talks about this in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” That passage always bothered me because it talked about hating other people, but what Jesus is really saying is that He has to be number one in our life. No romantic or familial relationship can get in the way of that.
But, I argued with myself, I can use my marriage to glorify God! I can show all the sweet, romantic moments, all the adventures, all the great things we do together as a sign that God is with us! But then, I asked back to myself, if it becomes about all the great things we do, where is God in that story? Glorifying God is not showing others the great things we do, but what great things God is doing through us.
We are two flawed human beings with a very flawed relationship. We are both stubborn, bossy first-borns with no problem speaking our mind to each other. We are selfish individualistic thinkers. We fight in public, not knock-down drag out fights, but we are very vocal with our beliefs. Our marriage is by no means perfect, but that’s what makes it so amazing.
When our goal is to grow closer to God first, everything else is centered on that relationship. Because God loves us, we are able to love each other. It’s not anything we do to or for each other, it’s not our looks or our abilities that keep the marriage alive, but it is because of what God is continually doing in the relationship. In effect, the pressure to perform in our marriage, to be the perfect wife/husband and to show others how good we can do marriage, just isn’t important anymore.
That doesn’t mean that I stop caring about strengthening our marriage or about being a better wife to Michael. It doesn’t mean that we forgo any romance or stop going on dates or sharing happy things in our marriage. It just means that those things aren’t the focal point of my life. I trust that God is working in this marriage, and I strive daily, hourly, moment-to-moment to focus on Him as the center of this relationship. So every date might not fit into a romance novel. So we don’t shower each other daily with eloquent words or lavish gifts. That’s not the point of the marriage. The point is to honor God with this relationship and allow the grace of God to be intertwined with how we relate to one another.
Marriage isn’t the only idol we can run after to give us worth and security, but it has been a big one for me lately. I need the continual reminder that nothing on this earth is more important than our relationship with God, absolutely nothing. That gives me such peace about my marriage, takes the pressure to be perfect away even for just a moment (cause let’s face it, this is a struggle for me). I don’t want to forget my purpose on this earth. Love God first. Love others and let God work through me to bring others into relationship with Him. That is what it’s all about.