How An Old, Dead Guy And A Diet Taught Me To Replace My Idols

Earlier this year, Erin wrote about how to spot an idol. One of you wrote us last week and asked if we’d write a follow-up post about how to get rid of an idol:  

I am having a big problem with making a guy friend (aka my mega crush who doesn’t even like me that way back) an idol in my life and I really am not too sure what to do to stop. Could you please think about that follow-up post? I could really use it. Thanks.

Let me introduce you to an old, dead guy who I think can help: Thomas Chalmers. His sermon “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection” has captured my heart ever since I heard my pastor preach on it several years ago. His lingo is hard to understand (he lived from 1780–1847, after all), but I believe you’re smart enough to get it! Try reading this short section real slow:

It is seldom that any of our tastes are made to disappear by a mere process of natural extinction. . . . But what cannot be thus destroyed, may be dispossest—and one taste may be made to give way to another, and to lose its power entirely as the reigning affection of the mind. The heart must have something to cling to. . . . It is not enough, then, to argue the folly of an existing affection. In a word, if the way to disengage the heart from the positive love of one great and ascendant object is to fasten it in positive love to another, then it is not by exposing the worthlessness of the former, but by addressing to the mental eye the worth and excellence of the latter, that all old things are to be done away, and all things are to become new.

Did you catch that? You can’t talk yourself out of loving something or someone. But you can find someone or something even more lovely and beautiful and delicious to feast on!

apple vs cakeLet me give you a real-life example of this. A couple years ago, my doctor asked me not to eat sugar or breads or lots of other yummy things for an entire month. Her prescription sounded like torture, pure and simple. I honestly didn’t know how I’d survive. I thought I’d spend the entire month dreaming and drooling over iced sugar cookies, Nerds, and cookie dough ice cream.

But a surprising thing happened. I didn’t even miss sugar! You know why? Instead of snacking on raw broccoli all month long (yuck!), I went to the health food store and bought myself all kinds of healthy, yummy whole foods. I read books and researched healthy, interesting recipes, and spent hours in the kitchen preparing unique dishes. Was it a lot of work? Yes! But was it  even tastier than processed, refined sugar? Absolutely!

That, my friend, is how to get rid of an idol—by investing your time in relishing something (Someone!) better.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing (Ps. 34:8–9, emphasis added).

How can you put some extra effort today into tasting the Lord’s goodness? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

About Author

Paula Marsteller no longer tries to catch guys' attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She's married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her two young sons and seeking to practice "radically ordinary hospitality." She's the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in Central New York. You can catch her writing on

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