Being in a relationship is so exciting. It’s full of butterflies in your stomach, excitement over every milestone, and those moments that make you happy to be where you are now. I still, four years later, have those times where I feel my enthusiasm about being with Joel bubble up in from my stomach to my neck. I get so unbelievably happy, it’s intoxicating. It’s in these moments that I’m tempted. It’s in these moments that I forget God and listen to what the romance novels and movies have shown me. It’s in this when my relationship can turn from God-honoring to an idol in my life.
It’s tempting to say that “I love Joel more than anything in the world” or that “Joel is the best thing to ever happen to me.” These thoughts come to my mind from time to time and every time I think them, I immediately know it’s not true because I love Christ more than anything in the world and Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened. I know that thinking that Joel replaces Jesus in these statements is dangerous and I’ve seen the damage that think these does to every relationship in one’s life, including the all-important one with God. This is an idol. The definition of idolatry is excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.
God warns against idols throughout the old and new testament. Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37.) And in Exodus, it is a commandment that “you shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3) These show the basis of understanding what modern idols can be, and a relationship can definitely be one as it is created and physical. An important step to protecting one against your relationship becoming an idol is being able to recognize what behavior, thoughts or sayings are idolatrous. By recognizing it as such, you can work to make sure Christ is still center in your God-fearing relationship. Here are two signs that your relationship has become an idol to yourself and your significant other.
It’s Difficult to Spend Time with Friends Without Your Boyfriend.
If every time you are with your ladies, having an evening filled with sappy shows, painted nails, and talk about the latest news and you want nothing more than to be next to your significant other, there is an issue. When someone said to me last year “When Ryan is not there with us, it feels like something is missing…” I felt my stomach turn. It’s not that missing your boyfriend is bad, or that wanting to spend time with them is wrong. Not at all! It’s when your boyfriend has become more important than your other personal relationships that there is a problem.
This shows that you have excessive devotion to your boyfriend. It’s okay to miss your significant other from time to time and want them to hang out with your friends, but when it’s constant, it’s excessive. Being able to spend time apart is important and it helps to not blind you to realities. It’s easy to get caught up thinking that your relationship is just wonderful when you never spend time apart. Not only can spending time apart help you to reflect, but it can also allow your friends to give you their opinions and advice. This is biblically important! In proverbs we read that we should “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” (Proverbs 19:20) Allowing the people who know you outside of your relationship with your significant other to give you their advice, helps you to keep things in perspective.
Having it be difficult to spend time without your boyfriend also hurts your friendships. Even if it’s not your intention, your friends may feel like they are not important in your life anymore. It shows them that your friendship will always be trumped by your dating relationship. Of course your boyfriend means a lot to you, but your friendships should still mean something too. It’s hurtful to feel left out of someone close’s life. This is just one of the ways that we know having Christ center in your life is important. When Christ is center, all of your relationships grow and you feel more balanced.
“You’re My Everything”
The words you say and think do matter. It reveals truths about what you believe. If you are saying or thinking that your significant other is your everything, the best thing in your life, or other expressions that put them in the most important spot in your heart, there is an idol problem in your life. You might be asking, why this is dangerous. If you put your everything into this one human person, you are going to end up disappointed. Jesus is the only one who will never disappoint you. Keeping him center in your life and in your relationships, will help you to remember the reality that we are all sinners and help you overcome the disappointment from a human with grace.
Last year around this time, I knew a girl who was dating a guy and they seemed to be very happy together. They’d only been dating for a couple of months but they were both seniors so when the end of the year rolled around, they needed to decide what the next step was. And he proposed. Beautiful with lanterns in a lake and a row boat and magical sunset. She threw herself into their relationship. She made plans to be with him, missed out on job opportunities because they were away from him, but she knew they’d figure it out. With less than 100 days to go until their wedding, he told her he was no longer in love with her. She was heartbroken, as she should have been, and she was left with her future uncertain.God got her through it, but she realized she had been blinded by the idea of them, and that she had not put Christ first. Watch your words. Guard your heart.
In your relationship, and in all aspects of your life, it is easy to become overwhelmed and terrified when you realize that you’re in a bad direction. If you have realized some of your behavior with your significant other is idolatrous, do not worry. You do not have the power to mess up God’s plan. The power of the cross is redemption across all categories of life. God is writing your love story, never forget that. This doesn’t mean that you let the behavior continue, bring it to God and take action in your life and in your relationship. Spend more time apart and bring Jesus into your relationship. With your center on the True North of Christ Crucified, there will always be a solid foundation.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34