I lay my Idols, my Children, at Your Feet

“I’m a Homeschool Mom.” That’s my normal response when ask to tell about myself.

“My kids mean more to me than anything.” I’ve found myself saying this time and time again.

“Look at me. I’m a great Mom.” This is the one I’d never say out loud – but it’s always in the back of my mind.
Idol 9

About a year ago, God convicted me that my children had become my idols.  John Piper defines an idol as “the thing loved or the person loved more than God, wanted more than God, desired more than God, treasured more than God, enjoyed more than God.” I’m a Christian, so I would never outwardly admit that my kids came before God. In fact, I didn’t even realize it on an intellectual level. But the Holy Spirit convicted me that I had done just that.

My Identity

I’m Mom. That’s who I am.

NO! A hundred times NO!

Being a mom is what I do, my position in life – not my identity. God revealed to me that my identity lies in Christ, and in who God says I am – not in the fact that I am a mom.

I am God’s creation – His masterpiece:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Ps 139:14

I am the adopted daughter of the King of Kings:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:10

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption as daughters (to sonship). And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Rom. 8:1 

I am a disciple of Christ:

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Idols 4My identity lies in God and He graciously has given me children to minister to. But, how do I carry that out?

1) Repeat of the stinkin’ thinkin’.

2) Keeping the thought in the front of my mind. Whenever the thought pops into my head, “I am Mom”– I replace that thought with a Bible verse about who I really am. “I am a disciple of Christ.”  Hopefully soon, I will start thinking the truth instead of having to replace the lie.

2) I serve my kids for the purpose of fulfilling God’s desire for my life.

Let’s look at some of the same verses again – but highlight a different part:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:10

God created me to be a mom. I know this because He gave me kids. This is the job He has for me to do.  And being a mom is a good job – it is good works. But it is still my work and not my identity.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11

I must read and obey (abide) in God’s Word. God promises He will hold me in His arms and He will lead me as I lead my children. I believe He does that mainly through the words of scripture. So as I read the Bible, I am learning how to be the parents He created and planned for me to be.

3) I must choose my words more carefully when asked to tell about myself. Instead of saying, “I am a homeschool mom.” I could say. “I homeschool my kids.” I don’t know – what are your thoughts on this one?

My Self-Worth

I am now going to admit to you what I believe most mom’s feel, but no one wants to say out loud: my self-worth is wrapped up in how my children behave. If my kids are polite, intelligent, talented, and charming, then I am a good mom – I am a good person – I have done something right. On the other hand, when my toddler throws a fit in the grocery store, or my teen starts smoking– I am a bad mom – I am a bad person – I am a failure. And let’s be honest, as homeschoolers we have even more pressure because we can’t blame our kid’s bad behavior on their peers or the school system. I think we feel this shame even more because we are our children’s greatest influence.

Can we all admit, when we take a minute to think about it – my self-worth is an awfully big burden for a 3, 10 or 17 year old to carry? God has bigger shoulders – my worth is better resting on them. He says:

I am precious and worthy of being loved:

You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, Is. 43:4a

I am God’s holy possession – His treasure, His crown:

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession. Deut. 14:2

You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, And a royal diadem (crown) in the hand of your God. Is 62:3 NASB

God takes delight in me (that means He likes me – even when my kids are acting up!):

For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.  Psalm 149:4

The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.  Psalm 147:11

My worth does not depend on my children’s behavior. FREEDOM!

Idols 3So how then should I act?

1) Repent.

2) Replace the stinkin’ thinkin’ in my mind. Memorize at least one of these verses and tell myself it whenever the old dude in the cowboy hat says something like, “If that was my kid I’d take him out back and beat the tar out of ‘em.” Grow a tougher skin and ask God to allow me to display the fruit of the Spirit both to my child and to those who judge me because of my child.

3) Don’t act, react, or punish because of what others around me think I should do – or what I think they think I should do. Ask God for a double dose of wisdom whenever dealing with behavior challenges in public. Parent as God parents me.

I need to love my kids – even when they are acting unlovable:

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. I Corinthians 13: 4 – 5

  • I will be patient with my child
  • I will be kind to my child
  • I will not shame, humiliate, belittle or dishonor my child
  • I will not act because of how I want others to view me as a parent, but will do what is best for my child
  • I will not become easily angered – I will realize my child has childish behavior because she is a child
  • I won’t bring up the last time she acted up – it has already been dealt with and is in the past

idols 6I have a five year old who has melt-downs in public. Sometimes these meltdowns last for a long time. We have even been kicked out of a restaurant. People often excuse this behavior in 2 or 3 year old – but now she’s five, and tall at that. I feel the stares. I hear the ugly comments people make under their breath. I am embarrassed. People don’t realize she has special needs and sensory issues – they only see the surface behavior.

I am learning to – ignore those around me and focus on my daughter. I take a deep breath and stay calm, even when my stomach is in knots and I feel like throwing up.  I force myself to speak calmly and quietly – which is against my nature at such a time.  But it sometimes helps her to control her emotions. I’ve found that if I get upset, yell, or spank she becomes more uncontrollable. If the situation demands it, I remove her from the public’s eye and give her a safe place to melt down. I have left $300 worth of groceries in a cart to take her to the car – only to have to come back and re-shop at a later time. I believe this has helped Rose. It has also helped me by removing me from staring eyes.

4) I remind myself that God gave me this daughter, and He will give me everything I need to take care of her. He has also shown me His love in the midst of trauma, and I am no longer dependent on others to confirm my worth as a mother or as a person.

My Pride

This is the hardest for me to talk about, because this is my Achilles heel of parenting – and sin. I have an innate desire for recognition. I want others to see what a good parent I am.

My older kids are amazing. They love God. They love others. They do amazing things. I want others to recognize that they are that way because I was an awesome parent. I homeschooled them. I taught them about Jesus.

I adopted two hard to place children – one teenager and one medical/special needs infant. I love it when people tell me I’m a saint. I crave the attention I get when I tell people about all their trauma and people gush at me for being a good mom.

Holy Spirit revealed to me that I have the same sin as Satan! Yes, you heard me right.

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!” You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’  Isaiah 14:12-14

I wanted people to see me. I wanted to receive the glory that is due only to God and God alone. God gave me children – both by birth and adoption. He made them how they are. They are His, not mine. He simply entrusted me with the task of loving, nurturing, teaching, and training them up. He made them. He gave them their talents and abilities. By grace He called them. He died for them. He saved them. He is using them as they follow Him. To God be the glory – not me. I know many wonderful Christian parents – homeschool parents – whose grown kids are not following after God. It is only by God’s grace that mine are – not because of me.

So how am I living differently now?

1) I repented. I literally fell to the ground and wept over the depravity of my sin. The worst sin there is: the sin of wanting to make myself known and praised – rather than parenting to make God known and praised. God forgave me and gave me a new direction.

idols 1

2) I stopped playing the one-upmanship game. I’ve gotten caught up in the “my kid is smarter” “my kid is more talented” or my personal favorite “my kid loves God more because they’ve memorized more scripture and has been on more mission trips.” Sometimes the game even looks like this, “My kid is a worse nightmare than yours,” (which somehow translates into me thinking I’m a better parent because I have to deal with more crap.) This game swells my head and feeds my pride. When the game starts, I shut my mouth. I’ve failed and opened it – but it’s getting better with practice. I think about encouraging the other moms rather than competing with them.

3) I take my thoughts captive. When I start thinking,”I hope __________ sees what a great parent I am.” I repent again. I ask myself, “How can I use this situation to point ______________to God?”

4) I am more open to learning from others. Everyone has a story and something to teach me. I do not always have to be the teacher. I do not always have to have the last say. I am not the ultimate authority on how to raise godly kids.

5) I pray and thank God constantly for allowing me to parent my particular children. Giving thanks helps me stay focused on the fact that God is in control and deserves the praise and I do not.

6) I pray for humility. The sanguine side of me may always struggle with pride. But the Holy Spirit living in me can overcome my earthly nature.

I want desperately to be used of God – both as a godly parent, and as an example to others of a godly parent. I want to be able to say as Paul said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”  I want to point others to God through my parenting.

God is doing a mighty work in me. I have turned my idols – my children – over to God, and He graciously allows me to serve them. May He always be glorified in my doing so.

idols 22

Illustrations from Books by Gelett Burgess:

Goops and How to Be Them

More Goops and How Not to Be Them: A Manual of Manners for Impolite Infants

The Goop Directory of Juvenile Offenders Famous for their Misdeeds and serving as a Salutary Example for all Virtuous Children


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