In the last month and a half or so, the Lord has convicted my heart about something that I can’t run from anymore. It started out as something that I just kind of shrugged my shoulders at. Something that, honestly, I didn’t think twice about. “Everyone else is doing it…” I thought. “Why should it be that big of a deal? It’s not something bad…” You see, our hearts and our minds tend to play tricks on us where our faith is concerned. We get this idea that as long as it’s not one of the “major” sins, we are okay. We are in the clear. God’s not going to be mad at us if we aren’t really doing anything ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ or sinful. Unlike an obvious sin like addiction or blasphemy or adultery, my conviction came over something so simple.
I don’t mean idolatry in the form of a golden calf or anything like that. I’m not worshipping a statue or leaving boxes of saltine crackers and apple juice at the foot of a man with a pot belly (true story, y’all…at my nail salon every single time). I mean idolatry in the sense of paying more attention to something than to the one thing that my heart should be focusing on. In the past, I have put my husband before the Lord—doing whatever I could to make him happy and feel like I was good enough for him. Likewise, I have put my children before the Lord, making sure that no matter what they needed, even if it meant stopping my quiet time and my bible reading to take care of it, I did it. Don’t get me wrong. Taking care of my husband and my children are part of the ministry that God has given me here on this earth. There is a time and a place for those things, no doubt. God wants me to put my husband and my children before myself but not before Him.
If something like that is clearly making an idol out of something/someone other than God, how would he feel if I was making an idol out of the very thing that was meant to draw me TO him? I somehow managed to make an idol out of my quiet time.
It started a few months back when I bought myself the new CSB Study Bible for Valentines Day. I love to read from various translations and the multitude of scholars and authors that contributed to this drew me in. I had a coupon for Lifeway and the bibles were on sale. You seriously can’t beat that! I scooped it up, paid the extra $5.00 and had my name embossed on the front of it and then took that beauty home. That was when the problem set in. I started to worry about how I was going to use it. I don’t mean worry about how to read it. I literally could not make myself write in, mark in, underline or highlight anything in this beautiful new bible…for fear of doing it wrong.
I spent hours on Pinterest, on Instagram, on Google…trying to find a “method” for marking that worked for me. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t do it ‘wrong’ and that I didn’t just start marking for the sake of marking the way that I always have. I bought more new pens, pencils and highlighters than one person could ever need to make sure that I didn’t use something that would bleed through the pages (the pens and highlighters from The Daily Grace, Co. are my go-to’s for marking in any bible…). I was honestly having severe anxiety over this. My husband told me I was ridiculous-which I was-and that if I wanted the bible to study with, then I was going to have to actually pick it up and read it to get anything out of the study material.
I finally got over that crazy anxiety rush and made use of my Bible…but then, the anxiety and stress and Pinterest-searching for ways to make an effective prayer journal crept up. Another rabbit hole of ideas, images, notebooks and binders filled my empty time slots and I started to feel like my prayer time was “inadequate” because it wasn’t wrapped up in a pretty bow with the right accessories to go with it. Again, I found myself spending more time and more money trying to make the thing look like it should than I was actually using it.
Somewhere along the line, we all decided that not only does our faith and our spiritual journey need to be shared and broadcast (a practice that I am all for), but that it had to look a certain way as well. It’s not good enough to just share an image of your writing or your bible or even just your words…you need the perfect photo to go with it. A perfectly orchestrated, staged and precise image that displays in the right light, the right angle, and shows just the right amount of scripture writing. Sharing our quiet time take aways with these kind of photos even brought about satire and ridicule on YouTube back in 2014.
I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with sharing on social media. Again, I do it all the time. I use my feed as a means to share what God is teaching me, as a tool for spreading the gospel through my small network of friends and family who may not believe the gospel the way that I do, and to encourage others in their faith. Not all social media sharing is bad; and who doesn’t love a pretty photo? But, when sharing for the sake of our own recognition becomes more important than sharing for the sake of God’s, we’ve crossed the line between sharing faith to sharing self.
This realization made me take a good, long look in the mirror and at my heart. Realizing that, while my intentions were good and my goal was aimed at sharing Christ, my heart was aiming for the wrong things. Gaining followers, getting clicks, more likes and page views…the glorification of self became my idol. I’ve taken a step back from needing all of the “right” things and shifted my focus back toward the only one thing that I need: Jesus. Does that mean I don’t still love pretty notebooks and office supplies?! Absolutely not! The new line of goodies from Well Watered Women, the Daily Grace Co. and Cultivate What Matters have my heart all a-flutter right now. But rather than focusing on why I need more products, I’m focusing on why I need more Jesus.
I have to tell you…that shift in perspective has made all the difference.