The first person I put on a pedestal was my elementary school music teacher. I became slightly infatuated with her around third grade and took up flute just so I could be in band and spend more time with her. One year, I even bought her a nicer present for Christmas than I bought my mom. (Sorry, Mom. I know that stung.) Miss Putnam was perfect and pretty and nice and if I recall correctly, we were pen pals. I don’t really remember how or when this would’ve occurred since I saw her every day, but it’s part of my childhood memory, so I’m going with it. But then, again if I recall correctly, she perhaps got engaged and then moved and therefore left our school. I was devastated. She let me down. And yet, she totally didn’t. Because it had nothing to do with me. And she didn’t owe me anything. And I was just one of her hundreds of students. And she was just living her life, doing what humans do.
I fast-forwarded quite a bit of time before I put another person upon my pedestal, waiting until my freshman year of college when I fell for (in a strictly platonic, idol-y kind of way) the wife of one of my youth leaders. We spent a ton of time together and she really listened to me and I learned so much from her. It was because of her and her love for her children that I realized I really did want to be a mom after all. She taught me about life and faith and marriage and we wrote back and forth in a journal when I went away to college and… Well, something happened and we both got upset and it never really got fixed and she fell off the pedestal and we just stopped staying in touch.
A few more years later and I was in marriage trouble. I went to a couple people who had marriages I admired and shared bits and pieces of my story and was given some support and prayed for and given advice. And some of the advice worked and some of it didn’t. And for years and years I did what was suggested even though things kept just getting worse and I kept feeling that it was because I was not applying the advice perfectly enough as opposed to the slight chance (that had never crossed my mind) that these pedestal people didn’t quite understand my full picture and that the advice they were giving didn’t really apply to our situation. And then something happened one day and some things were said that broke my heart and will more than likely not get fixed this side of heaven and they fell off the pedestal and they are not in my life anymore.
And recently someone – who I just realized has been on my pedestal since I was teenager – did something that surprised me, something that hurt me. And I realized that the thing that was done was just a really human thing. But I was so thrown because I had placed this person in the ‘slightly-above-human’ category all these years, so it hurt even more deeply when this very human thing happened between us. And even though it hurt, and even though it changes everything, this person fell off my pedestal and, it turns out, I’m so glad.
And here’s why. Pedestal people make the rest of us feel small and wrong and kind of, if we’re honest with ourselves, judged all the time. Every one of these people who I looked up to…well, honestly, I never felt I could be myself fully with any one of them. I was always performing in the hopes of their approval. And when they moved away, or stopped talking to me, or outright disapproved of me, or yelled at me and condemned me, or whatever, I was devastated. It felt like God himself had moved away and stopped talking to me and outright disapproved of me and yelled at me and condemned me.
But here’s the thing. He didn’t. Because he wasn’t the one who did those things to me. Because these pedestal people of mine ARE NOT GOD and never were and I was the one who placed them in those positions in my life. They didn’t ask to be there. They probably didn’t want to be there. In most cases, they probably didn’t even know they were there. They are just human. We are all just human.
I can’t imagine anyone has me on their pedestal, but Lord, please do us all a favor and just knock me off right now before I hurt you more than I should, before more damage can be done. You’re just human. I’m just human. All my pedestal people are just human. There’s only one God. And none of us are him.