By definition, an idol is something that is not true. Something to which we allow inaccurate importance, improper worship, and/or undue worth.
We all have idols in our lives. Some of our idols have made plain their inadequacies and we are fighting every day to rid ourselves of their hold. Others have promises on loan that we are clinging tightly to. Idols are a poison in our lives because they are untrue. They cause us to drift from reality, from the value of truth. They pervert our worldview and our ability to self-assess. Idols highjack our purpose and subvert our relationships.
They must be destroyed. But getting rid of an idol is like kicking an addiction. It is much harder than it seems. Even when we know it is destructive, it can be hard to let go. Here are a few tips for destroying an idol.
It might sound simple, but naming your idol accurately is an essential step. One of the things we love to do is hide our idols behind symptoms or false names. That way we can attack people or circumstances, political agendas or less precious weaknesses without having to truly risk our false love.
This is why we develop victim mentality, blame, and defensive walls. We focus on our circumstances rather than our idols. Because the truth is, we want to rid ourselves of the negative realities our idols have brought into our lives while still clinging to the hopes and promises the idol provides. We are double-minded. And so, we treat the symptoms rather than the disease. We imagine our struggle is against this person at work rather than our idol of control. We imagine our battle is with people who disagree with us rather than the idol of comfort.
Humans are so good at self-deception. If we want to destroy an idol, we have to face it down. Idols fester in darkness. As scary as it is, you have to bring it to the light in order to destroy it.
Re-Frame the Narrative
All of our idols have one thing in common – they are a perversion of something good we desire. That is why they are so hard to let go of. They have just enough of a hint of truth to keep us hooked.
If you want to destroy an idol, figure out what good thing it is you are really after. Is it belonging or acceptance? Purpose or peace? Your idol is a false path to a good destination. It is the trick of idolatry. The idol of performance won’t gain the acceptance you truly desire. Just look at celebrities mired in scandal, divorce, and drug addiction. Most lottery winners (something like 85%) end up bankrupt and wishing the whole thing never happened. Sex isn’t the prerequisite for love (it’s the other way around). Controlling circumstances won’t bring you peace. Convincing people you are perfect won’t force them to love you.
We need to recalibrate our narrative. The journey needs to align properly with the destination. If you are struggling with an idol, figure out what you are truly after and scoot back to square one. What is the proper, healthy, legitimate way to reach that end? No shortcuts, no tricks, no lies. What are you after and how do you really get there?
Idols also have a tendency to jump. They change masks and rename themselves. What was once performance now turns into malaise. What was once an aggressive kind of power turns into a subtle kind of manipulation. Truth is your friend. And truth is the only thing that will chase these idols away for good, even as they try their chameleon tricks on you.
The Mood Curve
All idols feast on one lie – there is an easier way. You don’t have to suffer and struggle. It doesn’t have to be so hard. You don’t have to thrive or be confused.
Purpose is hard work. Living a dream takes effort. Thankfulness is a perspective not a perfect alignment of external situations. If you start to accept that struggles are a part of the journey, neither a definitive end or an avoidable inconvenience, your idols will find themselves on wobbly legs.
Your idols won’t give up without a fight. They have lied well to earn their spot in your life. It is not circumstance or setting that destroys idols, it is perspective. Adopting a proper perspective is not easy. As you try, you will find your idols put up a fight in defense. But a commitment to your true values and the true path to get you there will see those liars slowly exposed and destroyed.