As a mother, it can be hard to know when it’s appropriate to ask for time for ourselves. Raising children is a joyful God-given assignment. It can feel wrong to desire to break from the constant demands. But if I don’t, I become short-tempered, unmotivated, and my children become a chore instead of a joy. Therefore these breaks are a necessity. On one occasion, I had neglected to take a break until I had reached the bad-mom stage. My husband lovingly told me to go take some time for myself. I did. As I cried out to Jesus, He gently spoke into my heart to confront me. I had been making my children my gods instead of Him. Any time we work to please anyone besides God, others or self, it’s idolatry.
Left unchecked, idolatry will leave us miserable and unproductive. It had done so in the case of my parenting that time. Even now, I watch myself. When my parenting becomes about how to stop the whining more than showing my children who God is, I realize I have slipped into idolatry. Honestly, like most sin, Idolatry is about pleasing “I” first. Why do I constantly try to appease my children? It’s not really out of love- because true, healthy love sets boundaries and disciplines. When I appease my children, I seek after my own desire for quiet. In 1 Corinthians 10:7, Paul speaks about how the Israelites of the Exodus generation were idolaters. “Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.’” And I can find myself there, I work or please others, so that I can partake in an uninterrupted meal or enjoy my hobbies. Instead, when we work, we should work as an act of worship unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23).
Unfortunately, in a culture that no longer seeks God, it’s easy to stumble into idolatry. Putting our own needs first is impressed upon us through our media. It is true, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t help others. But the equation is missing a vital part. See, on our own, we don’t naturally take care of ourselves well. For me, this happens a lot with dieting. I can easily start a diet. But unless I set my mind correctly from the start, I quickly lose momentum. When I fix my eyes on Christ, and taking care of the body He gave me, my diets are successful. A shift in mindset is necessary. Once we change our minds to pursue God, He will meet all our needs. This is what Jesus is saying in Matthew 6: 33 when he says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.” There is power, the power that raised Christ from the dead, in our surrender.
Earlier this week, I had realized I was prioritizing other things, including my children and my husband above Christ. I had to take time to come before Jesus and repent with a prayer. If you feel you need, you can pray this prayer as well.
Jesus, My God and my King. You are my first love. I want you to be first in my life. I realize that Your ways are greater than my ways. I am sorry for putting _______ before you. Today I choose to put You first. I choose to work as unto You and not unto myself. Thank you for your forgiveness and presence in my life. Amen.
“Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”