Where Does Your “Precious” Lead You?

The character, Gollum, in J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” is a study in addiction and its pitfalls.

This creature was obsessed with the powerful properties of a much-desired ring. Transfixed, he often referred to it as “my precious.” This preoccupation, over time, led to his changed, grotesque form; it also contributed to both his torment and his tragedy.

The story portrays Gollum as a struggling being who had “come to love and hate the Ring, just as he loved and hated himself.” His unfortunate fate inevitably followed. Upon finally seizing the ring, he fell into a volcano’s fires. Both he and his “precious” were destroyed.

Now, how’s that for a cautionary tale?

“The eyes are the window of the soul.”
English Proverb

Gollum’s prominent physical feature, indeed, was that of his gigantic eyes. His peepers show us the allure of the shiny idol.

In my own eating disorder recovery, there is the concept of how our eyes are often larger than our stomachs. What that means, really, in any addiction context, is that our obsessive lust is larger than our human capacity.

Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied. Proverbs 27:20

Ah, yes. The lust of the eyes… It’s been there, right from the start.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. Genesis 3:6

What we see and give power to determines our vision. It is, therefore, addiction’s promise, which assures us there will be pleasure, fulfillment and freedom from pain and fear. It’s a hefty promise. And, for a time, it may even look like it delivers.

It certainly had me convinced. When I was a bridesmaid at my cousin’s wedding, I believed my two-digit weight was my answer and cure to everything. If I could just meet this appearance goal, all would be well and perfect. I was at my lowest weight, an emaciated point, so much so, comments made included not only how thin I looked, but also how large my eyes appeared. The wedding photographer had a startled reaction when I showed up for the photographs.

“My, what big eyes you have!”
(There’s nothing like a nod to “Little Red Riding Hood,” huh?)

Now, who knows exactly why he said what he said.

    ** Was he trying to say something flattering in the presence of this disturbing skeleton?
    ** Was he trying to make me feel better, so I wouldn’t kill myself after the wedding?
    ** Was he just so flummoxed, he fumbled for any words he could find?

I believe it was a mix of all three. At the time, I certainly felt a combination of fear, pity and shock from him.

But my physical frame could not be denied. I did have an exaggerated appearance. I was a skeletal being in a girly pink bridesmaid dress, with matching hat. I looked like a mushroom on the verge of tipping over.

And, because everything else on me had shrunken, my eyes did look all the more prominent. Some would even say “bug-eyed.” I was, indeed, skin over bones-and that included my face. My eyes, therefore, were a large, disordered and distorted window to my soul. And my soul was in agony.

Whatever our addictions, compulsions, disorders and vices may be, that is the cold hard reality; we are in agony. We grapple for something which has occupied our field of vision, only to discover, just like Gollum, our “precious,” leads us to destruction.

There is a way that seems right to a man. But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12

But, fortunately, it is not all doom and gloom here. For, if we return to the entire “precious” factor, we can see there is a scriptural, spiritual, life-affirming Truth at hand. It asks us for a shift in our thinking, but it is there, nonetheless.

The challenge concerns what each “precious” represents to us as individuals.

But it doesn’t just stop at the hard work on confronting our painful and ugly realities.

For, the Divine’s perspective provides good news: our precious status, to Him, is already in effect.

“Since thou is precious in my sight… I have loved thee…” Isaiah 43:4

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. Psalm 139:17-18

Love, acceptance, pleasure, freedom from pain and fear and the choice of what is considered “precious” to us- these are all heart issues. And heart issues are life issues.

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… Proverbs 23:7

Therefore, the distorted representations of our “precious” idols steal us away from our one and first, true Love…

“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.'” Jeremiah 31:3

We love him, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

And this separation causes us tremendous pain, whether we know it or not. It is the estrangement, the perceived severing of an intimate, loving relationship in which there is a mutual “precious exchange” going on.

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12

On some level, what we seek, what we crave, is that experience of actively loving and being beloved in return. Our primal need, therefore, can have us searching for this experience in our addictions. We desperately hope, that loved/beloved reality is waiting, with open arms, in the alcohol, the drugs, the food, the sex, the relationships, the shopping and/or in any other thing we deem to be our medication.

But it isn’t. And, the more we obsess, pursue and follow our designated “precious,” inevitably, the more likely we are to meet destruction.
Perhaps, then, it adds another layer to an oft-quoted scriptural passage…

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:25-26

There is a prioritization to the “precious.” There is a weight to the lust of our eyes. What we think about most, looms largest in our lives.

So, the disturbing question comes.

Is “my precious” giving me the life I want?

More often than not, honestly, the answer is no.

At any given point in our lives, we are crying out for some representation of Divine love.

“Will he take delight in the Almighty? Will he call on God at all times?” Job 27:10

We are calling for our beloved precious. But are we choosing the Most High to be that One and Only Source?

“… I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

Deuteronomy 30:19 further challenges the issue. Just for a moment, let’s insert “the choice of precious” into the scripture, so that it reads…

“… I have set before you “the choice of precious” life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose “the choice of precious” life, so that you and your children may live.”

Our decision comes into view. We choose. We have free will. And we also have the benefits package, laid out for us, if our decision chooses the Most High as our beloved…

You have given him his heart’s desire, And You have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah. Psalm 21:2

Delight yourself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Nothing and no one else is able to deliver that.

So, each one of us has Gollum lurking within. Something has captivated us, captured us. What is it?

What’s your “Precious?” And what is at stake concerning it?

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:25-26