When I say the word ‘idol,’ what comes to your mind first? American Idol? Someone you look up to? A false God made of gold? Regardless of what comes to your mind, all idols have something in common: reverence. We revere our celebrity idols, we revere our parents as our idols, we revere power or money. It’s not uncommon for us to have many idols we look up to, but I believe that at the center of them all is a single one that trumps all others. For me, it’s personal relationships. At any given time, I tend to idolize single people at a time and all I can say is that it never turns out well. I hurt the person and I hurt myself, but I can’t seem to help myself; people are my idol.
I’m spurred to write this tonight because of a person I’ve been idolizing recently. Have you ever met someone you like so much that you can’t stop thinking about them or wanting to see them? It could be a romantic interest, a close friend, maybe a parental figure or someone else you might be dependent on in some way . I have a pattern of doing this to people in my life. I can’t tell you why with 100% certainty, but I believe it stems from a desire for intimacy. I’m a deeply empathetic person and pretty emotional so I frequently let my emotions guide my thought processes, which can be a really dangerous thing to do and it’s something I have to consciously keep in check.
All of this is to say that I’ve been having problems with this person I’ve been idolizing. You see, I get really clingy to people and I can’t always tell when I’m encroaching on others’ personal bubbles, especially when the other person doesn’t let me know. I try to communicate (way too much/frequently), which most often leads to any given person not responding any more, which only makes me cling harder. So recently he called me out on it (after constant pestering from me of course) and I realize he was right. I’ve been giving this person far too much influence on my thoughts, emotions, and actions. It’s my sincere hope that my relationship with the person isn’t damaged too much, but my paranoia and the ugly voice in the back of my head that goes by many different names (Satan, my better judgment, common sense, etc.) tell me that this relationship might be doomed. The truth is I don’t know and because of my occasionally obsessive behavior, that idea scares the living daylight out of me, which then causes me to try and fix it and make it better. It’s a learning process that I can’t fix everything in other people. For me, it’s uncomfortable like none other and it weighs me down at all moments; it feels like I can’t escape it, like I’m going through withdrawal.
So how do I cope with this? Well a lot of it comes down to distracting myself and taking every measure I can to just not let my mind wander back to the person. I go to class, I spend time with friends, I play computer games, and I even do homework. But I find the best remedy for this kind of pain is listening to calming music. I find it extremely cathartic to allow calm, powerful, emotional music express my emotions for me. Recently, the song I’ve chosen to listen to is called “Holy Spirit” by Jesus Culture. Now I don’t often use worship music to lose myself in, but I was at InterVarsity the other night and a song that was played reminded me of another one that I forgot I loved. So that night I found it and ever since I’ve been listening to it almost exclusively whenever I’m alone and feeling myself drifting back to the person in question. The particular version of the song that stole my attention so powerfully is sung by Kim Walker-Smith. Here’s a link:
She has such a powerful and beautiful voice that every time I hear this song I can feel myself just surrendering my problems and becoming peaceful. It works wonders on my heart. Combined with the recent warm weather has me managing so much better. I can feel spring coming and my spirits lift automatically.
These struggles are intensely personal and some people (myself included) might wonder why I dare to share this online with everyone. My hope in sharing this is this: I want to be transparent and I want to help people. I find honesty from myself brings honesty from others and helps other people who may have a similar struggle. While people are my idol, another person may have a different idol and this insight might just help them. I believe in the power of this song and that might help. Truly, writing is my outlet and this is therapeutic for me. You know, in case you were wondering.
So to wrap this up, I’ve been having some real struggles over the past few days and week and I needed to share this. Idols are dangerous and fallible, so I urge you to be extremely careful with where you put your focus and attention and reverence. Placing it in the wrong place will only bring you pain in the end.