How to Love Your Family Without Making an Idol
I had been a Christian for years.
As a young, married, mother-of-two, I loved God, and I made reading and following His word a priority in my life.
And yet, somewhere in the midst of getting run over by that bus called “motherhood,” I began to notice that I was fearing a lot. I couldn’t bear all the looming possibilities for suffering and disaster that surrounded my family at any given moment. I couldn’t imagine life apart from these humans that I loved so much.
And so, I tossed and turned at night, unable to shake visions of burning buildings and cars plunging into rivers.
On the other hand, I also noticed that I felt quite perturbed when my little family didn’t meet my expectations. Whether my husband failed to help put the kids to bed or my toddler peed on the floor again, I felt exasperated.
What God would show me in time was that these symptoms were indicative of a much graver, deeper problem. Unintentionally and unknowingly, I had made my family an idol in my life.
What is an idol? I define this as anything we love or prioritize over God.
Is your family an idol?
As mothers, our families sometimes gain territory in our hearts they were not meant to possess. If we find ourselves loving our husbands and children more than God, we have created an idol.
Take a moment to examine your heart and consider these questions:
- Do you have a deep, unshakable fear of disaster for your family?
- Do you draw your happiness and/or identity from your family over Christ?
- Do you feel an unhealthy level of exasperation or “let down” when your family fails to meet your expectations?
- Are you more interested in bragging on your children than on Jesus?
- Do you prioritize your family over things that God is calling you to do?
- Are you more enamored with your motherhood than with your Christianity?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, I challenge you to spend some time with the Lord asking Him to search your heart in this department.
Jesus has some strong words for those who love their son or daughter, mother or father more than Him. We must take this seriously!
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-39
Yet in a society where the idolization of family and children is celebrated and even expected, it is grievously easy to give our love and allegiance to our families over God.
This must not be. We must not allow ourselves to become so happily wrapped up in our families that we miss the spiritual and eternal reality.
So, what do we do about it?
How to Love Our Families Without Making Them an Idol
I think there are a few truths we need to deeply internalize in order to fix this heart-issue.
1. Recognize that eternity is at hand
This life is incredibly short in comparison to eternity.
The truth is, our precious family units will pass away. This structure will not endure in its present form.
God’s beautiful design for family has been broken and marred by sin: from the abandoned child, to the grief-stricken mother, to the selfish spouse, to the unbelieving brother.
We know that there will be no marriage after the resurrection and that our children will stand beside us on the day of Judgment to give personal account for themselves. They will be a brother or sister with us, coheirs in Christ, should they choose to accept His gift of salvation.
Think about this: why do we love our children so much? Is it because they are superior to all the other children in the world? No, it is simply because we have been given the privilege of knowing them. We are not intended to put them before God, but to faithfully fulfill His purpose for us as mothers.
When we see this bigger picture, we will be able to let go of all our guise of control and instead work to follow God’s will for us each moment of each day.
(And guess what God is calling us to do as mothers? To love our families! More on that below…)
2. Recognize that our hearts belong to God alone
As a child, I felt stressed out by the whole “idol” scenario. I knew I needed to love God most, so in my mind that meant devoting around 60% of my heart to Him (that seemed like a solid majority). Then I had 40% left to divide between my family, friends, classmates, and anyone else that I might meet.
This also required “gating” my love for others because, I wouldn’t want to love them more than Jesus!
But because exact heart percentages are hard to determine, keeping them in line at all times was an overwhelming task! (Obviously I didn’t do this perfectly.)
Imagine my relief when, just a few years ago, I finally figured out that my whole heart belongs to God. No math required!
Jesus said it like this:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ This is the first and greatest commandment…” Matthew 22:37-38
All my heart. It’s as simple as that!
But then, what’s left to give to those around us?
3. Recognize that what our families crave and need is God’s love, not our hearts
When we give our hearts to God and receive His love for us, guess what?
He fills us with all His fulness!
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)
From that endless reservoir of joyful overflow, we act as a firehose, channeling His love to our families.
Here there is no fear of “over-loving” (it wouldn’t be possible!), no idolatry, no exasperation, selfishness, impatience, nor entitlement.
It is this love that our families truly crave. It is this divinely-rooted act of loving that will ring out into eternity, adding lasting meaning to our every moment.
And so, we must learn to love others on God’s errand, with His overpowering, complete, and burning love. It is far more abundant and sacrificial than any love we could ever dream to offer on our own strength.
As we set our hearts on heaven, we will no longer expect or pressure our family to fill our heart’s deepest needs, which they cannot do. We will instead joyfully serve and love them in obedience to Christ.
Let us invite God in to gently and painfully loosen the world-focused crust on our eyes and teach us to give our hearts to Jesus only.
Life is too short and God is too good to live any other way.
Would you like to become a more heavenly minded mom?
Over the past five years, God has opened my eyes to the truth of eternity and its relevance to motherhood, and every area of life!
In His grace, He brought me on a journey to see my life in light of heaven, and it changed everything. Now I believe He has entrusted me the task of helping other mothers anchor their hope firmly in heaven.
That is how my new book Heavenly Minded Mom was born, and after nearly two years of working, praying, and dreaming, it is HERE!
Heavenly Minded Mom is a 90 day devotional to help you embrace what matters most.
It is not a collection of stories about my life, nor is a “stereotypical” light-hearted devotional. Rather Heavenly Minded Mom is a deep examination of scripture and a invitation to reflect on what it means to live in light of eternity, in the context of motherhood. It is divided into bite-sized portions to offer space for reflection and a real perspective change over time.
Heavenly Minded Mom is divided into three sections:
- Section One is a tilling up of the hard soil of our hearts. This is a critical first step –an assault on the idols that we cling to unknowingly. The purpose of this section is to demonstrate the futility of emptiness of what we too often allow to consume us. (Don’t worry, there are nuggets of hope and redemption woven into every devotion). 🙂
- Section Two is a nurturing of the seed of eternity in our hearts. It is a time to soak in what scripture says about, well… reality, and allow it to begin germinating.
- Section Three is the fruit-bearing. It is an outflow of the joy and purpose that God has poured into our daily living in Christ. The very things that seemed meaningless at the onset of this journey are now re-infused with new (and different) purpose.
I’d love for you to join me on this journey!
When you purchase Heavenly Minded Mom, you will also get access to:
1. Scripture coloring pages intended to help you meditate on the truth of eternity (a $5 value)
2. The Heavenly Minded Mom Online Course (a $10 value)! This is a four-part video course will help you go deeper as you consider what it means to walk out motherhood in light of eternity.
The website to access these freebies is printed in the book itself, and you get them no matter when you buy!
Read a Sample
Not sure if you’re ready to take the plunge? You can read the first 30 pages absolutely free right now! Get a free sample here.
Where to buy?
Heavenly Minded Mom is available wherever books are sold online. However I have just learned that it is already IN STOCK at Cokesbury (this is because they share a warehouse with my publisher). That means if you order today, it will ship today, not in three weeks!
Not only that, but Cokesbury has marked the book down to $9.99, which is the best price anywhere!
Buy from Cokesbury here: https://www.cokesbury.com/product/9781501845529/he…
Or find links to other sellers at www.heavenlymindedmom.com
I’m excited to share my heart with you!
Reactions from the Launch Team
“This book is just blowing me away. I am so blessed to get a head start, but at the same time cannot wait to get the real official book in my hand to start from the beginning and dwell on each daily devotion for like a week each! They are seriously that good!!! Katie will give you chills, and make you laugh out loud! God has found a perfect instrument to reach me, and I’m sure many more!!!” –Meghan K.
“I recommend this 100%. I have been very challenged and encouraged as I realize how *temporal* my mindset truly is. But you know in the back of your mind, ‘I need to be living for eternity; how do I do that exactly?’ Totally reframes your thinking.” –Jessica S.
“These devotional truths are so humble, but so compassionately convicting! It takes the Word of God and just slays so many sneaky deceptions that the enemy tries to hide from us, especially as servant wives and/or mothers!!! I am overjoyed at how much my soul is already being cleaned up.” —Tawnya G.
New to this community? Start here, friend.
Oh, Katie, what a sweet and precious reminder! Yes, family is an idol I used to worship often, and this was a sweet reminder to check my heart even today. Thank you for your words of encouragement and for “spurring me on toward love and good deeds” as a sister in Christ. What a sweet place your site is!
Oh, this is so convicting! Just last night I had visions of our house on fire for various reasons and I lost sleep over it. After tossing and turning for WAY too long, I finally asked God to clear my mind and give me peace. Thank you for this very timely and practical post!
What a beautiful and honest post! Thank you. I just got your book in the mail, which I ordered for my daughter-in-law. I can’t wait to wrap it and give it to her for her birthday later this week! (And, I can’t wait to borrow it and read it myself!)
Thanks for penning such thoughtful, important words. This is the “balance” we all need in our lives as moms. . . .
My soul is so encouraged as you remind all of us that our role of motherhood while a high and holy calling can so easily become an idol when we take our eyes off of our Savior Jesus who is our only true identity…in whom we live and move and have our being and through whom we can do all things. It wasn’t until the Lord spoke deeply into my soul and revealed to me that I was most broken in my identity that I cried out to Him as never before and He answered by turning my life turned right side up with the truth that I am complete in Christ and that I am enough because He is enough. Knowing that I am enough because He is enough has been so freeing. Now, anchored by this reality, I can love my family unconditionally and continually point them to the only One who is their identity too when and wait on Him to mercifully provide the grace for them to whole-heartedly surrender themselves to Him alone for their salvation and receive the abundant life that only by walking in this union with Christ can be experienced. Every day is filled with opportunity after opportunity (divine appointments, interruptions – are “our work”) to work out this reality in the context of the brokeness of our families and cry out to Jesus who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we could ask or hope for according to the power which lies within us…the same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead….we have access to in our union with Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Praying and waiting…on the only One who can do all things for His glory and our good.
Thank you for writing this book to point us to the truth of the transforming power of God’s Word to equip us with everything we need as mom’s for godliness by altering our thinking, behavior and our very lives in view of eternity.
Sowing for eternity,
Love this blog post and can’t wait to receive my copy of heavenly minded mom and get reading 🙂 thank you for allowing God to use you and encourage women all around the world. God bless. Jess from Australia