I read the passage and it seems trite, silly almost. Moses didn’t come down the mountain quickly enough so they melted down their jewelry and made their own God. (Exodus 32:1-6)
Hold up. What?
How did they ever think that was a good idea?
I prop myself up a little higher on my seat so I can look down on those Israelites in proper form.
Because, how absurd?
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Not even 5 minutes later my husband and I engage in a discussion of fall activities - what we are allowing and what should hit the chopping block as far as kids’ activities goes. It’s a good thing, setting up our schedules to properly align with our vision for our family, but an emotion comes in unexpectedly.
Will my kids feel left out? Will they be properly socialized if we skip out on all of the things? Will their skills lag, their physical fitness fall behind? Will I miss out on the social interactions my kids’ activities afford me?
The questions invade out of nowhere and I feel myself grasping. At what, I’m not exactly sure. I just want to fix it. I want to make it all perfect. I want to give them home time and family time, sports time and educational time. Dinner time, friend time, all of these good times.
I want to meet all of the needs, fill all the gaps and make all of the right choices for them. The tension of choosing well is jarring, but so is the reality of unwise choices.
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This surging, reaching, grasping in my heart is my first clue. Like a low-grade temp, it is a warning signal that I’ve moved off center, or rather made myself the center.
I want to put myself in place of God in my children's life.
That looks dreadful in words - almost as absurd as melting down jewelry to create my own god, but the tendency sneaks in so quietly, with the best of intentions really. I barely notice the trade.
Paul calls it out so eloquently. “For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened”….“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served what had been created instead of the Creator…” (Romans 1:21,25 CSB)
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It’s a strange, yet all too comfortable form of idolatry when I put myself in the place God, seeking to provide all, be all, and give all to my children. But it’s also one of our greatest areas of temptation as mothers.
Is it bad to want the best for our kids? Of course not, but Paul’s words clearly remind us of the proper positioning of our hearts as we lead our children: Glorifying God foremost and Gratitude for his faithful providence.
3 ways to know I’ve made replaced God with a cheap imitation:
1. The insatiable problem solver - A skill that is so helpful as a mother becomes tainted when I rely on my own resourcefulness to meet all of my child’s needs. When I’m tempted to just think hard enough, schedule more carefully, pull some strings to make it all happen, this is a signal I’m relying on my own power to raise good kids.
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2. Discontent - The pendulum swings throughout parenthood, we often move from feeling like we’re not doing enough or we’re doing too much, and then it swings right back again. But we serve a God of peace, one who gently leads those with young. (Isaiah 40:11) It’s our job to live from that truth! We can trust him to lead us here, when we take those concerns before him, rather than figuring them out in our own strength.
3. Anxiety - That agitated and grasping feeling is an excellent warning signal. If your family is stressed and strained, let that be your sign to lay it all down before God. Seek proper positioning - his leading and guidance - that he might be glorified in and through your family.
Tempering this is not easy, I know. But it’s also our great privilege as mothers to do this well. We get to cast our concerns upon the Creator of the Universe, the one who loves our children even more than we do. We get to trade our fears for faith, knowing he who promised is faithful. And we get to set a legacy that points our children toward trusting God, just as we are doing the very same thing.
What a beautiful way to lead them well - fully knowing not we, but He, is always enough.
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Katie Westenberg is a wife, mom and writer who is passionate about encouraging women to fear God and live brave. Her daily brave involves life in the countryside of the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their four kids. She also enjoys traveling, reading and any adventures that include friends and family. You can find her at I Choose Brave as well as Facebook and Instagram.