We become what we worship.
And we’re all worshippers.
So if I worship a block of wood, then I’ll become unyielding and dumb.
And if I worship food – I’ll always be hungry.
It’s creation turned upside-down: instead of us imaging God, we make him in our likeness. We distort his gifts and look to them to provide us with meaning, identity, purpose and life.
The shape of each person’s idolatry looks different – but the same dynamics are at work. There’s always hunger – and there’s always shame. This hunger is not necessarily for food. But eating disorders are an interesting example.
Eating disorders are remarkably greedy. Anorexia seems like the epitome of restraint – but like the others, it’ll glut itself on all you’ve got – energy, fears, relationships. Food – whether too much or too little – goes far beyond what’s on the plate. It’s everything you want but can’t have. It’s what you’re owed and what you don’t deserve. It’s your friend and your enemy. It’s your longings and your terrors and your silence and your speech.
This is how it is with all idols. This little thing becomes everything. It’s a bottle and a syringe. It’s the lover you can’t leave, the parent you can’t please, the grades you don’t make, the beauty you’ll never be. That’s what an idol looks like. Not a golden calf. Not even a miniature Buddha. A yawning vortex that demands to be fed. It promises life – then takes it from you.