I worshiped the number of keys on my keychain. They were heavy. So heavy that my Dad would routinely remind me not to keep them on the same ring with my car key (lest I destroy the ignition).
I don't believe that "worship" is too strong a word.
We all worship things we don't set out meaning to worship - it happens when we invest ourselves in projects and occupations and people. We forget who the projects and occupations and people came from. We worship what we make. We worship what we earn. We forget that we are only meant to worship the God who has created all life.
And me? I worshiped the keys on my keychain.
A large number of them came from my job at the local church. I had keys to most doors in the building as well as a fob for the electronic keypads. I had a set of codes to let me arm and disarm the buildings. I had access and responsibility. And it was my "second job." I think I liked telling people that I had two jobs and then hearing them say, "Wow, Sarah. I don't know how you keep it all up!" We equate overcommitment with success in modern Western culture. It is not healthy.
Overcommitment to what?
I would love to say that all work for The Church or for a good cause is directly related to an endless commitment to God, but for most of us that's just not true.
It's ok to be proud of who you are. I say that to my students all the time. I want them to make choices that give them a sense of personal accomplishment and well being. But there is such a thing as selfish pride. For me this has always been a point of difficulty. It's something I need help with frequently, but I don't like to ask for help with it because I find it embarrassing (surely someone out there can say "amen" to that).
I was proud of my keys and my multiple business related email addresses. I was proud of the fact that I had so much responsibility in so many different places. I was proud of the fact that I was so needed and so busy. I was proud of the fact that I was overworked. Wait, wait, wait . . . proud of the fact that I was overworked? Yes. Definitely proud of that.
When I learned that I was expecting my first baby, I instantly began to think about how I could still do all the work. I was frantic about it. And it took my parents, my doctor, and a few mentors to convince me that it just wasn't going to be a good option - to do what I'd been doing and be a mother.
I was resentful of giving up my keys and my extra set of responsibilities. Because I worshiped the work of my own hands at that point in my life.
The fact that we often fall into this trap doesn't mean that the work of our hands is evil (well, I mean, unless it actually is . . .) - it means that we still have this sense of "want." It's the same "want" we're born with. The same "want" that Adam and Eve felt . . . or Cain and Abel. We have a desire for more than is good for us.
God can help with that.
We can tell God about that. Over and over. We can always tell God about it.
It took me months to tell God about my keys.
I am still sometimes telling God about my keys.
God is still reassuring me that the keys have never been mine and have never said anything about me. A year ago that thought would have been upsetting to me. These days it's liberating.
We all go through stuff like this. Read Ecclesiastes and Proverbs. Read the gospels and the experiences of those in the early Church. God can help with this. We can tell God about this.
A rich life doesn't have much to do with how important we are. There are very few kinds of importance that can fill us up in our human experience. Most kind of importance will leave us feeling hungry and tired.
Love. That'll do the trick.
My keys can't help me learn about love. But my child can. My family can. The children I serve at school can. God can. And God made all of those people I love so much! Praise God.