Ideals and Idols

(Photo by Maylin Rowe)

Ideals and Idols
How I Got Over “Mr. Wonderful”

By Sarah Komisky

I wish I could say I was over him the day he pulled out of the driveway that summer. But, to say that would be lying, so I’m not. The truth is, it took longer than a summer to get over him, and if you ask me now, I would say the time was too long. The root to this complicated, toxic, almost-relationship laid in one word called idolatry. For the longest time, I knew an “idol” meant putting a person or object before God, but I failed to notice that “Mr. Wonderful” had become that for me.

My tale began long before my summer date with Mr. Wonderful. This almost-relationship was a long time coming. After I was told that he thought I was “pretty cute,” I tried to not be “that girl” by playing hard to get. Yet, slowly he won me over. Playful conversations. Finding where I hung out at school. Giving me homemade chocolate chip cookies on my birthday. I was hooked, and all of it made my heart flutter a little more.

But his interest also made me feel valued and beautiful. He was my popular, football-playing, attractive, and charming crush who was interested in me. But once my mystery wore out that summer day, I sadly felt as if my worth faded too.

In my eyes, he could do no wrong. Despite his ability to find defects, treat me with little respect, and be a chronic flirt, I found it hard to break free because of my insecurities. I needed him because of how he made me feel. But trying to receive this from a person instead of God always left me empty.

Infatuation and idealization not only provokes you to ignore unhealthy behavior but also leads you to become someone you aren’t, making you feel never good enough and elevating the other to perfection. I was “too shy,” so I tried to make myself an extrovert. I was a good girl, so I tried to be more sassy. He was attracted to me physically, so I tried really hard with my looks. But with all my efforts, I couldn’t keep him.

When he retreated, I tried other methods. I wore clothes I knew would get his attention, competing for his affections. Unfortunately, our saga continued for years. He was the one I could not get over. We had other hang-out sessions, conversations, walks to class and lunches together. Although I didn’t compromise sexually, I certainly compromised emotionally and spiritually. I settled for less.

I settled for revived, negative attention (mostly concentrated on the physical) in hopes for a time when I would be pursued again. Everything crashed when I later found out about a continued relationship with my best friend I thought was long gone. Deeply hurt, I shifted blame and continued on with Mr. Wonderful.

Finally, God said, “Enough.” He removed him completely when he moved to a new area and I was heartbroken. All of it was painful and I didn’t get over him for a while. Yet, piece by piece God took off the veneer of who I idealized him to be. When I gave my life to Christ, He began to unpack these buried wounds from my past. I began to find my true identity and affirmation rooted solely in God. The love of God shared and showed by my parents, family, and friends was now being understood and I began to understand what I meant to Him.

Ezekiel 6:9 in the NIV says, “I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols.” When our eyes focus on another and our hearts attach, our affection shifts and the top priority becomes a guy over God. We commit spiritual adultery. We put greater value on man and abandon God. Also, we run to someone who cannot save us (1 Samuel 12:21).

Later, I also realized that Mr. Wonderful also needed this love, and I too placed an unrealistic expectation of love and salvation on him that he could not fill. Now fully healed, I can say that truly seeking God’s love is key. When we are secure in this love, we can fully let go of ideals and idols and give God His rightful place in our hearts and lives.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.”

– 1 John 4:16 (NIV)