Today a perfect storm of hormones, cold grey weather, several major issues I don’t know how to solve, and the normal overwhelm of raising little children (puke! poop! again! and again!) came over me and I was awash with a sense that all is not right, everything is wrong and I’m probably about to smash and burn on some unforeseen obstacle that everyone else knows is there. I can be melodramatic.
On Sunday our pastor preached about idol worship. The modern-day American variety. I worship an array of idols – Hindus aren’t the only ones with 300 million gods. But my primary – wouldn’t – want – to – live – without – them idols are self-righteousness, intellect, and praise. I like to be right. It makes me feel safe. And as our pastor pointed out, that is the point. We worship idols because we think they can save us.
Inside, though, I feel fragile and broken. The self-righteousness and intellect can only reach so far. I used to think I was the only one that felt like they were often walking on a precipice and just over the edge was failure, doom, and a public unmasking that would show me to be the fraud I know I am. Now I know I’m not alone. We all just cover up the feeling in different ways.
For me, it’s making sure to be right, throwing some brain power and good dose of wisdom at it. I bolster my courage by reminding me of my skills, my personality, what I know, and that I can do well and people will tell me I did well. The difficult part is that I really do a fairly decent job at being “right” and I have a not insignificant amount of brain power to help me along. But there are good things and then there is too much of a good thing.
I’m not the only one like this.
Other people cover it by deciding in clear terms what defines success and making sure the success is something they can attain, but that hopefully will be out of reach of others so they can feel even better about themselves. It’s this money. This lifestyle. This belief system.
Some people cover with work. Or busy schedules. Some people entertain and listen to music and watch TV and never allow their brains enough down time to think about it. Some people believe order and organization is everything.
I know people who hide their frailty behind “I prayed about it and God told me to.”
I know people who hide their broken behind “I don’t even think God exists so none of this matters.”
I know people who hide how small they feel behind an ideal body, and clothes, and shoes, and house, and car, and neighborhood.
I know people who hide behind a firm belief that there’s no need for any of the fancy and shiny clothes, shoes, homes, or cars.
I know people who hide by making their life very small, contained, knowable.
I know people who hide by insisting that life is fun and we should all be enjoying ourselves.
The point is, we’re all searching for safety. We choose a variety of beliefs and pursuits to deal with it depending on our life experiences and personalities. But let’s call it what it is.
I worship self-righteousness because it makes me feel safe.
I worship intellect because it makes me feel safe.
I worship the praise of others because it makes me feel safe.
What do you worship?