In my last post on Friday, I looked at the “deep idols” of the heart, which Pastor Tim Keller referenced in his book, “Counterfeit Gods”. If you haven’t read that post, please go back and do so now.
In a nutshell, Keller says there are four main deep longings in the hearts of humans: “Power, Approval, Comfort, and Control.” We each find our individual alignment in one or two of these categories, while also falling into the other categories at the same time, but to more minimal degrees.
On Friday, I dissected the POWER category because that is where I find myself primarily driven in life. Most of what I do manifests itself in a striving to fulfill this deep longing. Hopefully, as you read and studied Keller’s chart, which I reproduced in my Friday post, you were able to allow God to reveal His truth to you about where you fall in these areas.
What is interesting about my study of Keller’s four categories and my subsequent reflection on the writing of Friday’s post is that later that day, during an afternoon jog, God gave me a revelation of sorts regarding this very thing. I’m going to do my best to try to explain to you what God revealed to me, hopefully share how I think it relates to Keller’s “deep idols,” and ultimately tie it all together so that it makes sense in the context of the full scope of the “Spiritual Healing” series so that we can see how all of this matters to our marriages.
So, here is what God revealed to me…
Beyond the four deep idols that Keller described, somewhere even deeper, underlying everything, there is one longing or craving that every human being has innately wired into them, and it is out of this one thing in which we find our place(s) in Keller’s POWER, APPROVAL, COMFORT, or CONTROL.
So, what is that one thing God revealed to me?
This will probably not surprise most of you, because really, it’s pretty simple, but what all of us really long for is LOVE.
Now, I want to let this sink in for a moment, so please just click on the video below and let the words and music permeate your soul. Momentarily meditate on LOVE, on what it really means to you, what it means to you in relation to God, who He is, and what He did for you in sending His Son. Then let your mind wander over the course of your entire life and think about all the things that have happened to you, all that you have done, all that you are, good or bad, and let God reveal to you what part LOVE has really played. When the song is finished, please just bow your head and ask God for revelation in your life in the area of LOVE.
Here is the video:
So, I was out jogging, and God spoke to me, not audibly, but in a knowing-in-my-heart kind of way. He said, “You aren’t seeking POWER. You aren’t seeking APPROVAL.”
Not POWER? Not APPROVAL? Then what?
And, it was as clear in my mind and heart as knowing that Christmas falls on December 25, God said, “You are really longing for LOVE.”
Then why does it seem that in every group setting in which I find myself I tend to take a leadership role?
The adult Sunday school class I’m in, when the previous teacher left the class, I took over teaching it. The men’s Bible study I mentioned in Friday’s post…well, when this group formed and started doing discussion-oriented classes, I took the lead and moderated a large percentage of the discussions, and even now that we rotate the discussion leadership, my name is still listed as the leader of the group. Back in the day, when I played adult baseball, I was on a team that wasn’t very good, so, what did I do? I started my own team with a friend of mine. Heck, you can even look at something really, really silly in my life like fantasy football. I started a league back in 1998 and have been the commissioner ever since. I run it, I made the rules, I make the decisions, etc., etc., etc.
It seems I crave influence and POWER, just like Keller described. In fact, it’s blatantly obvious to me. Some would also say I’m a control freak, and you know what? They are probably correct. I probably do seek influence and power and a large measure of control. At the same time, I probably seek an amount of approval and comfort as well. Maybe somewhere in my psyche I get a sense of approval from being recognized as the leader of a group, or the person in charge, and maybe I get a feeling of comfort from being the one to make the final decisions for things. Honestly, I really don’t know. I suspect all of that is correct.
What I do know is this…God spoke to me and revealed to me that despite all that surface stuff, like classes, discussion groups, ball teams, and silly fantasy leagues, and despite all the deeper stuff, like power, approval, comfort, and control, what I am really craving is LOVE.
Deep, deep down, in the core of my being, I just want to know that I am loved. He had me look at my entire makeup, why I am the way I am in every single way, and He revealed to me that everything I am and everything I do is really based on a deep-rooted desire and craving to not only feel loved but to be loved. Knowing that you are loved is so much more powerful than feeling loved, but when the beliefs of your heart aren’t aligned with the truth that you are loved, then you find yourself just settling for feeling loved.
This is where the problem comes in. Our view of what love really is has gotten so skewed and distorted over time that we will settle for way, way less than we were designed for. We were designed to know and experience the true love of God. We were designed to know and experience Him. God is love, remember. So, in our craving of love, we are really craving the Almighty Creator. We are craving God.
I’ve already told you that I crave power or influence, right? Well, where did this come from? It had to have come from somewhere. Personally, I think it’s a combination. I think, in part, I was made this way by God. I believe I was made to want to influence people. I believe God put this in me. I believe it was put there to help me in my life purpose. At the same time, this desire to influence people was rewarded somehow when I was a small child. I’m not exactly sure how because I don’t remember the specifics, but I imagine I was praised at some point for something I did when I was really young, and this, in turn, made me feel loved by my parents, perhaps specifically my father. I don’t know, and I am speculating, but it makes sense.
We get conditioned at very early ages to relate certain behaviors in our lives to the reactions of those who are most important to us, namely parents or parental figures. At the same time, we are conditioned by these same reactions not occurring for whatever reason. Either way, we learn at a very early age what makes us feel loved and/or unloved. Over time, this gets pounded deeper and deeper into our hearts and souls by more and more reactions or non-reactions.
You do something well, you get rewarded, which makes you feel loved. You do something poorly, you get criticized or punished, which makes you feel unloved. A pattern develops. A condition is established. Act this way, love. Act that way, unloved. It’s pretty simple, really.
Now, on top of this, other life circumstances begin to occur. Loved ones may leave you via death, divorce, or other means. More messages are being sent, and these now either reinforce previous messages or conflict with them. The conditioning deepens, worsens, or becomes confusing. Regardless, our view of love gets even more distorted.
As time goes on, as we grow older, a view of love develops way down in our hearts, and this view typically does not align with TRUTH. It aligns with all we have learned and experienced from humans over the years, which is far from TRUTH. At the same time, the enemy takes all that stuff and lies to us over and over, compounding all the baggage into deeper and deeper untruths.
In the end, our vision of love is so far from the real thing that we now seek love in all the wrong places—jobs, other people, accomplishments, peers, awards, addictions, children, you name it!!
In all this craving of God, in all this desperate longing for love, we have distorted (sometimes destroying) what He put in us, which was to be used for His purpose. We have taken His good gift and made it about all the wrong stuff.
Do you see what is happening here and how it relates to your marriage? I challenge you right now to sincerely look at yourself, to look at all your good and bad qualities, to really think about all your impacting life events, and to let God reveal to you His truth about all of it. What is your motivation in doing all that you do?
I am positive that if you are 100% honest with God and with yourself that you will find the answer to be LOVE. You just want to be loved and know that you are loved. All the stuff you do that hinders or destroys your relationship with your spouse is really a desperate attempt to know this about yourself, that you are loved.
Well, my friends, you can only find this in God. God is love, after all. Any other place in which you seek this will fall short. This includes your spouse. Your spouse is a flawed creature, with baggage and history, just like you. He/she can make you feel loved at times, and some are better than others at this, but they will fail in the end. God won’t…EVER!
You must begin to align your heart with TRUTH, and that TRUTH is only found in God. Begin to recognize that all the stuff you are doing in your life, that which you think makes you happy or makes you feel good about yourself or life or whatever, is ultimately a seeking of love.
Align this properly, with God, and you will begin to see a change in your marriage. This is a divinely true dynamic that I guarantee will begin to manifest itself in your life.
God is love, my friends, and ultimately, this is what you seek.