Saturday, March 12, 2011

can you tattoo joy?

When I was in 6th or maybe 7th grade there was this hot actor named River Phoenix. The gals I hung out with, well, we loved loved loved this "man." Watching Stand By Me was a weekly occurrence. He made our hearts pitter patter even when we didn't know what that meant.  He was my ideal man and he quickly became my idol. Then, I graduated, and he died.

In college, I'd have to say my idol was the Little Mermaid. I kinda wish I had a picture to show you of the wonderful things my friends gifted me with to display. I was decked out in all things mermaidish. I even got a tattoo of that crustacean. I loved loved loved her voice, the story, the colors pretty much everything about it. It was my ideal movie and it quickly became my idol. Then, I quit college and got married.

Deeper idols started to appear when I joined as one with the Lead Singer, a clean home, meals at 8, 12, and 6. Patterns I no doubt fell into based on my own upbringing. Being a great wife and homemaker became my idol. Then, well, I had the world changers.

Idols when your a mom are ever changing.. some days it's sleep, date nights, alone time in the bathroom, the lady at church who has well behaved children, all 17 of them, being totally done with the laundry, feeding your family healthy organic meals, being all things to all people at all the same time, the latest TV show, girl time, going shopping without any kids. Whew, it makes me tired just thinking about all the things there are to elevate to an idol level when your a mom. But mostly, when my world changers were small I didn't even think about idols. I was focused on surviving the day.

Timothy Keller, a pastor and author, defined an idol as "making a good thing an ultimate thing." A good movie, a thought, a practice, a person, an emotion.. anything that becomes an ultimate thing is an idol. And if you have an idol, your willing to do anything for it. Heck, you'd even tattoo it on your.. well, never mind. 

In the very last verse of 1 John, it says, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."  and I want to shush him for even writing that. How could he write that, and mean it? Was he not human? Was he not alive? Did he not have a life?  Its irritating to me when people seem like they have super powers to overcome things of the flesh like idols. "Keep yourselves from idols" how is that possible when my whole life I've been a frequent patron at the library of idols?

My world changers love their electronic devices and they love them all the time. Yes, I'd call it an idol. but they, well, they call it fun and entertainment. As their parent, I don't enjoy ripping it out of their hands, but sometimes I have to,and boy do they scream and holler. I get the sticker for being the "worst mom in the world," but I know the louder they scream, the tighter that idol had a grip on their heart, and I'm OK with them taking a break from it, for their own sake, because I know idols.. they destroy joy.

Wow, John had it right all along. He knew idols destroyed joy. He knew. He knew God. He knew Jesus. He knew the Truth and God wanted us to know that anytime you "make a good thing the ultimate thing" you destroy any chance of lasting joy. 

"You make known to me the path of life;
 in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." 
Psalm 16:11

Funny how that works... you make God your idol and you get lasting joy. Love that, and I don't even have to tattoo that on my.. oh never mind.

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