Our pastor at our church in Viriginia defined idolatry as anything you try to suck life from, other than God, the life-giver. In other words, there are a lot of things in creation that are very good, that we are allowed to enjoy, that are given as blessings. They become idols when we expect, demand, or try to wring more out of them than they are designed to provide.
I have a tendency to idolize relationship.
I care too much about what people think of me.
The one good thing I learned from my local therapist was that I think far too often “does so-and-so really like me” and not often enough about who I like and who I want to spend time with.
(I worry that I’ll be the clueless idiot who thinks everyone is their friend, who doesn’t see how everyone really hates them. Fodder for other people’s amusement and sick pleasure. But chances are, as that therapist said, if someone really hates me, they’ll make the message clear — I don’t need to hunt for it. It is highly unlikely that there’s a Chillingworth out there who wants to make me his Dimmesdale.)
As my friend Kitty reminded me via Facebook chat this morning, the key is to do what I love, and love myself. It’s more fun to be around people who are secure, confident, comfortable, and having fun, than around people who are desperate, clingy, turning themselves inside-out in effort to win and keep friends. Real relationship requires real persons — real selves.
(Of course, when I AM desperate — like when I’m in the throes of a dark depression — it’s okay to ask for help from my friends. That’s different from the desperation to find identity and security in the favor of others.)
I’ll add that the key to doing what I love and loving myself is to abandon my broken cisterns and go running to the well of living water — that is, to remember that in Christ I have real acceptance and belonging and security and favor and freedom.