Me and my golden calf.

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Sometimes, the prettiest people have the ugliest hearts.

There’s a somebody I used to know who was my golden calf. I hated having an idol, but I needed an idol. Something to admire with my eyes and say, “This is what you don’t measure up to.” And then I’d dig my fingernails into the dirt, crawling and climbing to some version of myself that I thought would measure up.

There is no such version.

This person was pretty, and now? She’s beautiful. She lives in a faraway land, and I imagine her net worth is an unending swimming pool filled with a hundred dollar bills that would give Scrooge McDuck a mild panic attack.

This person is all about this person—so much so, they don’t even need me to worship them anymore.

I’m thirty-six. I’m too old for idols. No, that’s not correct. I’m too learned for idols, perhaps. I know the Lord. He calls and turns my face away, and the gold is no longer gold but a slight pile of ash.

My heart aches for this woman.

Can you imagine crawling and digging your way until you finally make it? And you cover the truth of yourself in make up and hair and clothes so nobody can see the way your skin cracks at night, giving way to the ugly inside you? You become what they need you to become, and you believe the lie because the only other option is to crawl back down and come to terms with what you never could before.

Oz behind the curtain.

I think the sweetest thing God ever did for me was to release my claws and set me down on solid earth again. It’s where I can stand and see the birds in the beautiful bright sky.

And the only golden thing about this place is the sun, and the way it warms my face.

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Up, up and away.

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It’s like a long lost friend and someone I’ve never met.

It has the most beautiful deep set eyes the shade of royal blue.

It’s like family I never wanted to know and a mother who doesn’t know how to love.

It is everything to me and nothing at all.

My first ride with it was when I was sixteen, and there was a sharp bend in the road, and I fell back on myself. And this whole time I thought I was inching forward, but that’s what happens when you can’t see a thing.

It’s addictive, the dark. I didn’t quit it until my early thirties, and I sometimes still wait up for it to say hello.

Like a couple of days ago. I’m cleaning up my act and getting off caffeine again. The three days of torment that come with something like that is beyond physical for me. It’s spiritual. There was a looming energy that didn’t want to leave. When I’m on caffeine, I feel mildly satisfied like a baby with its bottle. But then as the day wears on, there’s a poor-tempered spirit that rears its ugly head, just tame enough to not do any real damage. “Bad mood,” “grumpy,” “short fuse” — different dresses, the same doll. It really isn’t a good look on anyone.

God was the one who asked me to get off caffeine again. “Why do all the bad things always happen to me?” That was pretty much my attitude. Not great.

I kept ignoring Him until the physical side effects were too much to take. Oily hair, bad skin, a dull ache in my temple. He knows how to get me. So I gave in, and I thought not getting my daily high would be the worst of my sorrows.

Not so.

It was a three day battle with a darkness that kept dragging me back down. A look in the mirror, a whisper in the ear. A whole bottle full of crazy shaken over the drain. If it weren’t for the Holy Spirit, I’m not sure I would be standing here right now. That ever-present guard of my heart who loves me enough to look the deep in the eye and turn it shallow.

I’m on the other side now. No more dull ache in my head. Better hair, better skin. But most importantly better sense of who God is and His purpose for me. How easy we fall into traps because society deems them acceptable. And on the same note, how easy we ban things that might give an inch of pleasure, and in doing so, make them idols as well.

The point is, listen to Jesus and listen to the ones who know Him. All others are chasing a high that’ll soon float away.

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