I dropped one of my kids at an activity once and wheeled around in the parking lot to head back the way I’d arrived.
As I wheeled around, I saw a brand new Mustang sitting there with shine from head to toe. It was parked far back in the parking lot.
Being the judgmental, black-hearted person I can be a lot of the time, I shook my head and said “Tsk, tsk, tsk. Look how important that car is to that guy.”
Now I didn’t know that guy or gal from Adam, and I certainly didn’t know his or her circumstances. Maybe they’d worked hard their entire lives to obtain such a car. Maybe they’d had bad experiences in parking lots and decided not to park close to any other cars. Maybe they were into fitness and wanted to get their steps in for the day. Maybe that car was the most important thing in their lives right now.
Regardless of the circumstances, I’d spent a good deal of time rolling the scenarios over in my head, having my own mental conversation with myself and wasting a lot of time.
Clearly, none of it was any of my business.
I’ve been known to sit around and judge others or discuss someone else to death, practically. I’d save myself a lot of time if I’d remind myself that what others do and how they act are none of my business.
That shiny car made me think of how we all have our things we focus on. For some of us, it’s a new car or our home. We fret over how clean it is and how people conduct themselves when they are around our car or home. Take your shoes off. Don’t eat or drink over the carpet. Don’t put your hand on the paint job or the end table.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to take care of things we’ve worked hard to obtain. However, if we aren’t careful, these things become more important to us than just about anything else.
Many of us know people who act as though keeping things in order and cleaning are more important than anything.
People can’t go out of the house without every hair and article of clothing in place. Folks won’t go to the beach or take the kids to the waterpark because their body ain’t what it used to be. The guest bathroom towels are never used and the good dishes are never unpacked. We can’t spend any of that money we are using as a “nest egg” because we may need it someday.
I’m afraid I relate to many of these people who seem hung up on worldly, material things. But still, there are so many more things that can be considered idols.
For a very long time, my focus seemed to be getting things done so I could rest my head. With my job, my family, and even things that were supposed to be enjoyable and fun, I just wanted to get to the finish line and rest.
So, the desire to rest and just zone out became a sort of idol to me. And I still struggle with it.
Many of us never quite feel accepted, and so we become people pleasers, trying to adapt to everyone and every scenario in order to feel as though we fit in. People never quite get our true selves because it’s safer to remain somewhat neutral and smiley and easy to get along with.
Therefore, people in general and the need for acceptance becomes our “idol.”
Sometimes, the demands of our lives make us long for escape and entertainment. So, our goal is to binge watch a Netflix series or head to the racetrack, or watch endless sporting events, or shop, or read novels every waking moment. We find ourselves needing to have our phones on at all times, watching a video or listening to a podcast.
And so, the need to be entertained becomes our idol in a way.
What exactly am I talking about when I say “idol?” Well, it’s probably different for everyone, but I’d consider an idol anything that distracts you from your true purpose in life or keeps you from focusing on what is really important.
My idols have changed over the years, depending on the season of life I’m in, and I’m never proud of myself when I realize I’m spending too much time doing x, y or z.
The list of idols goes on and on. I could continue listing things that were personal idols for me, and I’m sure the rest of us could collaborate on our own lists.
We could fill pages and pages of a book, most likely.
So what are we supposed to do about blocking out all the worldly stuff that constantly vies for our attention and sometimes takes over? Again, I guess it’s different for everyone, but just as I said in the beginning of this column, I have conversations with myself.
I like to believe the Holy Spirit is speaking to me and prompting me to think deeper about things, do the right thing and reevaluate. “Hold every thought captive,” Paul said in the Bible.
More often than not, I ignore the Holy Spirit’s voice. But sometimes, thankfully, I listen and spend some time ruminating.
That’s time well spent.