I dated a girl for about two years before walking into this year absolutely sure that I wanted to marry her. I thought we had it all – there was a ring lined up, we had cute Pinterest boards, her parents were all for it, and we started to talk about what our wedding would look like. For a while, it was beautiful.

But then I realized my relationship with her was causing a rift in my relationship with God. Decisions I made weren’t about what God was asking of me, but instead what I could do for myself and the relationship I was in. There was a part of me deep down that knew she wasn’t the girl I would marry. Fear of change had a grip on my heart and I did everything I could to run away from that idea – everything except run to God.

I wanted to be obedient. I wanted to be bold. But no matter how hard I tried to do the right things on my own, I wasn’t letting God have any control.

One night while hanging out with some close friends that push me towards Jesus, I finally let them know what I was going through. I remember the moment that night I decided to break up with her – it was when I realized I was clinging to the relationship for the sake of comfort and control in my own life, instead of living with open hands to what God wanted of my life. In the morning, I broke up with her.

I thought I would feel freedom and joy after that, that somehow my relationship with God would automatically be back to where it was over the summer during Elevate – when I woke up every day craving God’s presence and to read the Bible, when I immersed myself in community, when sharing the gospel every day with strangers was my priority.

We broke up in October. In the same month I ran back to her out of comfort and then left the relationship again for the same reasons. I was completely lost. The weight of insecurity, shame, bitterness, pain – everything that was pushing me away from God was starting to crush me.

On a Saturday, she suggested that we stop talking so she could pursue a deeper relationship with God and live in singleness. Two weeks later we spoke and she told me something that brought me more pain than I had felt in the entire two years that we were together. I was angry at her, I was angry at myself, and I was angry at God.

But an odd thing happened after that: I heard God whisper something to me that I had forgotten over the course of the semester. “Come to me, I love you.” So I prayed and begged God to take away the brokenness in my heart. To take away my fear and anxiety and replace it with His love. I prayed that He would help me just fall asleep.

The next morning, I heard Drew preach a sermon on idolatry. I spent the morning asking God to get me through the day and fight the feelings of stress and pain that seemed to come in waves. That evening, I heard Drew preach the same sermon, but this time something different resonated in my heart and I realized that I had been idolizing this girl. I recognized for the first time that I loved this girl more than I loved God. In response to the sermon that day, I prayed on my knees that God would remove this idol from my life and that I would be desperate to love Him more than I ever had before. I asked God to forgive me for placing someone else above Him. Instantly in that moment, I felt God’s grace wash over me and the weight of all the brokenness inside me lifted. It was like a light switch turned on, every single piece of pain and bitterness was replaced by God’s love.

Since then, I have walked closer to the Lord than I have in my entire life. Daily I wake up hungry to read the Bible and spend time in His presence. I feel more alive than I have in over six months. I can’t even describe the joy that I have walked in since God removed the one thing I loved more than Him from my life. I finally understand what it means to be fully content and trust in who God has made me to be and in the plan He has for me.

Idols in our life can be incredibly powerful and control us in ways we don’t expect. But with prayer and putting God above our idols, we can experience the freedom and joy that He promises us.

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