The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I, of course, have my lovely sister-in-law here, Emily Jensen. Em, do you change up coffee routine at all in the summertime?
Emily: No, I am a black coffee girl every day the whole year.
Laura: I love making ice coffee and I make it in these huge batches. If you guys are all looking for a new coffee recipe, Pioneer Woman’s ice coffee is awesome.
Laura: Today, we are talking about idols. Idols of a mom’s heart specifically and things that we can get caught up in, like me, coffee in the morning. If I don’t get my coffee, that can sometimes be a big deal. That’s a silly one but it could be seen as an idol. [laughter] In all seriousness, when we hear the term idol, which is a dated term in a sense, we think of little tiny gold figurines, little Buddhas or little animals. Em, what do you think of with a traditional idol?
Emily: You go back to an old Bible story and you imagine a big statue that every body’s bowing down to.
Laura: As moms, when you hear that word, sometimes it can be like, “An idol? I don’t have any of those in my house,” [laughter] but yes, you do. Biblically, what an idol is, is anything that we worship besides God.
Emily: We were created to worship and our hearts love to worship. Our whole lives are lived in worship and so the question is, what are we worshipping? It’s something that Laura and I have talked about on a variety of different episodes. John Calvin has a good quote about how our hearts are idol-making factories, and we literally can replace God with all kinds of different things that we love, more than Him, and that we spend more of our time and our energy and even more of our delight goes to things other than God. Any time we do that, it becomes an idol. It’s a thing that we worship.
Laura: These things are usually not inherently bad in it of themselves, which why it’s so difficult to identify them. When you see them, it’s like, it can be used for God’s glory or it can be used for you to sin in your heart against God. That’s why today, Em and I want to talk through what those look like, specifically for moms, because moms have a lot of similar ones. We can struggle with a lot of the same things.
I will go out on a limb here and get vulnerable with you guys. My natural love language is affirmation and I, especially as a stay-at-home mom, really struggle with getting that because it’s not in the job description. It’s not naturally built in. There’s no review, there’s no boss that’s telling me, “Hey, you did a good job, you did a bad job, you exceeded expectations,” or whatever. Often, I desire to get that.
When I don’t, I throw myself a pity party or I have a bad attitude. I expect that from my husband and when I don’t get that, I sometimes feel a bit sour towards him. I have many idols, I will be very honest, but I think that’s something that as a stay- at-home mom, has been brought to light for me as something that I struggle with and understanding of how to get that through Jesus. We’ll get to the part of how we can replace our idols, but I have had to learn and grow in that area, so that I don’t choose my attitude based on what I’m worshipping.
Emily: Idols can manifest themselves in the same way. Laura can have a bad attitude about something and I can have a bad attitude about something but my reason is totally different. If you want to drill down for me what that is, and it really goes down to a few big core issues for me. I really worship and value comfort and ease and a fun happy life. [laughter]
Laura: That sounds pretty good to me too.
Emily: At any given point, you’d be like, “What do I really want?” I’m like, “I want my day to be fun and I want to do the easy things. I want quiet and peace, and for us to go do that cool activity and not have anybody melt down.” Whenever that doesn’t happen, I can get angry, become frustrated, and be impatient with my children or those around me. I can feel despairing. I can do a lot of things.
I feel like another big weakness of mine, as a parent, is I will do something that gives that instant gratification in the moment, so that I feel like things are easy or fun, even though in the long run, that would be a damaging choice. That’s one of the many ways that, instead of obeying God and doing something that I know is right, I want what’s going to give me that satisfaction right then and there because that’s what I’m worshipping, and that’s what I’m valuing. It’s really hard. I’ve seen it all across my parenting every day. [laughter]
Laura: Those are two examples that are common across a lot of moms. What are some of the ones that you want to share, Emily, that have struck a chord with you? Performance of your kids. Your kids may be performing well or if they behave well, seeing that as a reflection on your character and your ability.
Emily: Then being able to control. That is a really big one. Being able to control your environment, your kids’ behavior, what they eat, what they are watching, and who they are around. Being aware of their lives and your lives and feeling like everything has to work out the way I want it to, or I’m not going to be happy.
Laura: Health too. Again, these are not bad things but sometimes they can become idols, like our body image, how we recover after postpartum, how you feed your family or you feed yourself, how you view your body, or fitness and working out, and if you’ve got that that day. Even how put together you are too, along those lines of how you look and how you dress, and whether you are wearing designer clothes. Maybe you can be really proud of that $2 thrift store shirt; it can go both ways too, of finding pride in those things.
Emily: Feeling like you want to have it all in motherhood and in life. You want to have a really successful career and a really successful ministry life, and a successful motherhood. You want to be seen as somebody who is living the American dream or whatever that is, and wanting to be perceived that way and have it all. Money is a huge one too, and it can manifest itself in parenting, as well as the way you are relating to your husband, or the way you are managing your money, and the way you are putting your time towards that management.
Laura: Your home is another one. Your decorations and how you host, and how people feel when they come into your home, and your hospitality, and whether or not everything is perfect and put together, or the meal that you put on the table for them, or your backyard, is it kid friendly? Your basement too. Do you have all the toys that are perfect for kids?
Emily: Again, we want to keep stressing, these are good things to want. It is okay to want to have some financial security. It’s okay to want to have a nice house. It’s okay to hope that your children behave well. The problem is when we value that thing more than we value God. When we love and treasure this idea more than we love and treasure Jesus. That is when it becomes really dangerous and turns a good thing into a not good thing. [laughter]
Laura: Going into explicitly how that Gospel fits, is that, when we were originally created, we were created to glorify God, to worship Him, and to walk life with Him. Adam and Eve enjoyed that for a time but then the fall happened and what came with it, and we became prone to be worshiping anything but God. That’s why as human beings, not just as moms but as humans, we are "idol-making factories." If it’s not one thing, it’s another. On one day, it could be comfort, and another day it could be affirmation, another moment it could be how you feel about your home or how you feel about your body.
We are really good at creating those idols because of our sin nature. But God, because in His grace, because of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us, He mended that gap between our desires and the sin, and allowed us to be able to come into communion with Christ again, and to enjoy God as our single focus, as our only thing of worship. Because of that sacrifice, we can have power over our natural inclination to worship all these mini gods, these little idols in our life and instead worship the true God.
Emily: And knowing that that is the only thing that is ultimately going to give us joy. That’s the only thing that’s really going to satisfy. It’s such a tremendous blessing and something that I find myself having to say, “Thank you God,” when I see a situation in my heart or in my mothering, because motherhood reveals all of these things, where I see a disproportionate response to something that happened and I go, “What happened there? Why am I so angry about this? Why am I so upset about this?” and I realize, “It’s because of what I worshipped.”
I am so thankful that God shows me that because that allows me and allows us as moms to turn back to the one who we need, to be living for and loving with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. I barely started to touch on there, but how can we know what our idols are? That is a big one for moms to figure out. It starts with asking some questions.
Laura: Maybe earlier some of the things that we talked about, maybe those struck a chord with you or maybe none of them did, but there are others out there. Sometimes, I know this has happened to me a lot, the idol is wrapped so deeply in our heart and we’re so comfortable and easy with it, that it’s hard for us to notice. That’s when we have to ask God to reveal that to you and praying that your eyes would be opened.
It reminds me of C. S. Lewis and Eustace, the story of when he became a dragon and he had to remove his skin and he kept trying to do it. It was easy and he was removing a couple of layers here and there but eventually, to fully rid himself of his skin, Aslan had to come in and take a deep painful cut and remove it for him. Only then was Eustace able to have freedom from his sin and to enjoy the sweetness of his presence with Aslan and to rid himself of that sin.
A lot of times thats what happens with these idols in our hearts, is that we have this thick scaly dragon skin and we don’t know it. We are comfortable in it. We slough it off but we don’t replace those idols with Jesus. That is where we need Christ to come in. In that analogy, that’s what Aslan was doing, removing the sin with a deep cut that often hurts but replaces it with something good.
Emily: That’s not enough to just say, “I’m going to stop doing this. I’m going to stop loving that. I’m going to stop worshiping that.” It’s not enough for Laura to say, “I’m just going to not care about affirmation anymore.” It’s not enough for me to say, “I’m just not going to care about a fun life.” Laura has to turn and look and find her affirmation in God and realize that affirmation from Him, and in Him is going to be more satisfying and more wonderful and she can value that over anything else.
I have to realize this fun life that I think I want, this comfort and this ease - guess what? True peace and rest is found in Jesus. He is more wonderful and more restful and going to bring me more joy that I could ever have in anything else. That is the only way to combat an idol. Anyone who’s ever tried to stop doing something by gritting their teeth and, “I’m not going to do this anymore,” that doesn’t last for very long. You have to give yourself something better, something that you enjoy more.
Laura: We are starting to get into this but if you are looking for what those idols might be in your life, it’s those things that you think about the most, the things that make you most upset when they go wrong or not your way. You can look at how you spend your time. What do you do when you have some extra time? How is that spent?
Emily: What do you make excuses for?
Laura: You mentioned this one early on, but it’s a really good one where, is your response disproportionate to the thing that happened? Are you super devastated by something that most people would think your attitude or your response was extreme? Those are some questions you can ask yourself if nothing’s coming to mind.
Hopefully, something does, as you work through those things and ask God to reveal them to you. We want to encourage you guys today to look really critically at your hearts and what you’re worshipping. To not only say, “I’m not going to do that anymore,” but to say, “I want to turn to Jesus and I want to fill that void in my heart with Jesus instead of leaving it empty,” because let’s be honest, you’re going to fill it with something. That’s just human nature.
Emily: Turn and treasure Jesus more than anyone and anything else. That is what we are all about here at Risen Motherhood. This episode gets to the heart about pretty much everything else that we talk about.
If you want to find more on this topic, we will have some stuff in our show notes. You can also go back and hear more about heart issue things on our show archives, that’s risenmotherhood.com. As always, feel free to leave us a rating or a review, we would love that. Hope we will catch you back here next time.