I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that at some point in your life, you’ve been let down by someone. And if you have managed to avoid this unpleasant situation so far, trust me, you will experience it someday. I know that’s a pretty depressing way to start off a blog entry, but although I’m an optimistic person, I try to keep reality in mind as well! And here’s what I know is real: We are WAY too dependent on friendships and relationships.
How do I know this? Because I’ve done it! I built my life around my relationships with family and friends. I invested more time in my friends than I did in spending time with God. When problems arose, I went straight to friends, and didn’t even think about praying about the matter first. I based my worth on what everyone else thought of me, and could care less about who I was in God’s eyes.
I loved the gift of friendship more than the Giver.
The result? I felt hollow. How can you have so many amazing people in your life and still feel so empty? I had a relationship with God. Wasn’t He supposed to fill me up when I was feeling down? Wasn’t He supposed to bring me joy even when nobody else could?
Yes, that is exactly what He does. But not when my eyes aren’t set on Him.
Idolatry is the practice of seeking the source and provision of what we need either physically or emotionally in someone or something other than the one true God. It is the tragically pathetic attempt to squeeze life out of lifeless forms that cannot help us meet our real needs. | Scott J. Hafemann
Depending too heavily on friendships leads to idolatry. All too often, while God is desperately wanting a relationship with us, we in turn, attempt to replace Him with His own creation.
Trying to receive the same kind of love, attention to detail, and comfort that only God can give from a friend is like trying to squeeze a tube of toothpaste in hopes of it eventually turning into Nutella (one can only hope….). I can squeeze that thing until there is literally nothing left inside of it, and even when it’s given me everything it has, it will STILL not be Nutella. I would be trying to make toothpaste something it wasn’t meant to be. And if in a desperate attempt, I try to consume toothpaste the way Nutella is supposed to be eaten, it leads to poison.
Isn’t it kind of funny? God decided to bless us with friendships and relationships because He didn’t want us to be lonely. But He structured friendships and relationships perfectly and beautifully, so that every single one of them would point directly back at HIM. What we’ve done instead? Idolized one another. Replaced God with people who, at most, have a life expectancy of about 65-70 years. Yikes. No wonder we aren’t happy – ONLY God, when our lives are completely focused on Him, can satisfy every part of our being forever!
I’ve tried to come up with some practical tips on ending this cycle, hopefully before it even begins. Try one or two of these on for size:
Think Twice: When a problem comes up, don’t immediately text your BFF. Tell God first, and ask for wisdom about whether you should even be sharing that problem with anyone in the first place. Maybe it‘d be better if you didn’t!
Journal: I understand, we all have a tendency to “vent.” But more times than not, our venting tends to lean more in the direction of “unexpected gossip” than the “positive release of frustration” we’re aiming for. Try writing out your frustrations instead – God won’t judge. He’s the One who put this situation in your life anyways, so you couldn’t possibly talk to someone who better understands what you’re going through!
Take Walks With God: This is for those of you who would never even consider keeping a journal, as my previous suggestion mentioned. So how about going on walks with God? Just speak to Him, however you want to do it!
Spend Time In His Word: During all the time you spend speaking TO Him, don’t forget to LISTEN to Him too. Let Him reveal more about Himself to you. All He asks for is a willing heart.
I hope this is a helpful reminder to love the Creator of friendships and relationships. He wants a relationship, first and foremost, with YOU.
The Lord your God is with you; the mighty One will save you. He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you. | Zephaniah 3:17