Idol Hearts

“You have put into my heart more joy than they have in abundance of corn and new wine.” –Psalm 4:7

I pray this psalm once a week for night prayer and each time it strikes my heart in a profound way. I am not quite sure I identify with the joy that come from new wine (because I don’t really drink very much) or corn (because I am not a farmer and I grew up outside a city), but I definitely understand the sentiment behind the psalm. Maybe something more appropriate for my generation would be that with the Lord there is more joy than from an abundance of reality TV and social media. I laughed to myself as I wrote that, but the worldly allures for the current generation are not really a laughing matter.

The reason I can identify with the psalm even though I have not had exactly the same experience is because the author is talking about the very human experience of looking for happiness and fulfillment in the things of this world. He is talking about idol worshipping.

Americans are idolaters. We worship our TV shows, our fast food restaurants, our cellphones, our families, our favorite sports teams. It was only recently that the Lord revealed to me — rather starkly — the idols I worship in my own life.

Idols are not really a hot topic in the world. Most people might not even know what you mean when you talk about worshipping an idol. And they most definitely are blind to the idols they have made in their own lives. Even though people don’t talk or know about idols directly, that doesn’t make it any less of an issue. In fact, I would say it makes it more of an issue. The evil that we are blind to or ignorant of is the most insidious.

Something that might help to make the issue a little more relatable is to start thinking of idolatry on a more basic level. When I think of idols, the first thing that I think of is the golden calf the Israelites made and worshipped while they were waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain. Basically I think of physical statues that people would make to represent other gods.

That is all fine and dandy, but if we get stuck on the idea that idols are only physical representations of other gods, then we are missing the bigger picture. We need to shift our way of thinking to include anything and everything that we might place above God. We can make an idol of just about anything when we give it control over our happiness and our self-worth. I have made idols of other people’s opinions and of my own perfection in school and other activities. These are things that I allowed to control my joy and my peace.

We quickly lose both true joy and true peace when we give our heart away to the things of this world. Nothing here can ever truly fill us. I think I will probably spend the rest of my life here on earth, and time after death, being purged of my idols. Allowing them to be smashed and taken away from me is not the least bit easy, but boy is it freeing! The Lord will not rest, and neither can we until He is our one true joy and the highest good we seek to attain in this life and the next!

“You have made me, O God, to live forever in your love, and my heart will not rest until it rests in you” – St. Augustine

May God be praised!

Stephanie Gulya is a newly married young Catholic woman who lives in Central PA with her husband. She is the author of The Catholic Woman (www.songofsongs610.com), a blog which is focused on ministering to the hearts of Catholic women through reflections on the Sacraments, prayer, Scripture and culture.

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