I haven’t written directly about this for a long time and certainly not since we got to know each other in real life. I feel guilty for thinking about relationships at a time like this. But it was kind of inevitable, coming and going from his hospital and living close by again for a period of time.
What drives you
I was resigned to the fact that the conscious thoughts would go on and on, for however long to come. Locating an “off” button would be welcome but the volume dial would do in the meantime. So I thought I was just plodding, limping, along with life. Until I started becoming increasingly aware over the last few months that everything I did (catastrophising here) has been related to the “break-up” (for want of a better word if you never got together). Subtly and subconsciously. Sure, seeking his approval has neither been the only consideration nor the weightiest consideration. But it sure has been a consideration in all these things. How I looked, what I wore. Where I went, worked, travelled. My social life, home life, studies, career. The dreams I dreamed, the music I played and sang, the languages I spoke, the hobbies I pursued. Even, I’m ashamed to say, how I went about my relationship with God, my church life and ministry.
I felt inadequate. Yes people say, you’re a good daughter – you love family and you love God. My family even says, you’re a good catch (ha!) – beautiful, clever, good at managing a home and good with children. But I’ve only cared about what he thought. Self doubt and secret pride share much in common, in terms of misplaced sense of identity. But I’ve mainly dealt with the latter. Or with trivial self doubts such as, am I going to be an okay doctor? Meh.
The guys I dated when I was younger either didn’t dare or care enough (in this regard) to challenge me on my thoughts and actions, my sinfulness. On the odd occasions when it did happen, I rarely took it seriously. What did they know anyway. But I respected and liked him for being direct, speaking the truth in love. The flip-side was that no-one whose opinion I valued had ever questioned whether I was good enough, suitable enough as a potential partner – he did. When we stopped talking I felt incredibly snubbed (this is quite one-sided and truth is that he would have felt incredibly snubbed by my actions too).
My idolatry is kind of shocking. It’s absurd, from a purely secular perspective, to live for the approval, or fear the disapproval, of a guy you like. Quite understandable if you’re an infatuated teen, but not so much for an adult! If I could be a bit more objective – I used to wonder why he would be self conscious around me, given that I had a fairly set opinion of him already; so, what makes me think that what I’ve been doing would change his opinion of me, for good or bad? All the more years down the track, when our lives are too separate for him to approve or disapprove of me in the first place.
From a Christian perspective it’s sinful to craft and serve our own gods. Do we fear these little gods or do we have a fear of the Lord? Whom can we liken God to, if we truly comprehended his greatness? It’s exchanging the image of God immortal for that of mortal man. Even a good and godly man, living a life that points to God, is nevertheless a fellow sinner. Even the kindest and most helpful friend cannot deliver and save in the place of God.
The typical Asian response goes, “Aiya, waste of time, forget about that! Think about your family (parents). Work hard for your future (career, investments).” The typical Western response, “Get your mind off it, enjoy life and do something you like. Find some hobbies, get fit, go travel!” To some extent I’ve done each one of those things, zealously. They are good things; just as attraction is an amazing, and mysterious, thing. But I don’t want to replace one idol with another. Not work and money, not that of another relationship, not even family, and I’m ever wary of the seemingly innocuous god of self sufficiency. Re-orientating my life will be challenging indeed. Given how easily we set our hearts on anything, but God.
“You cannot get relief simply by figuring out your idols intellectually. You have to actually get the peace that Jesus gives, and that only comes as you worship. Analysis can help you discover truths, but then you need to “pray them in” to your heart. That takes time.” – Counterfeit Gods