Idols Of A Mom’s Heart

Idols Of A Mom's Heart

The reasons, factors, conditions, and circumstances are endless. There is always an excuse for why I can abdicate my day to the waking up on the proverbial “wrong side of the bed”:

“It makes me crazy when I wake up to children screaming.”

“I just need everyone to be quiet.”

“I’m so annoyed by the kids’ whining.”

“Why isn’t anyone else doing their job (like I am).”

Mom’s frustrated, tired, cranky, and annoyed…again.

Idols of A Mom’s Heart

And while no one will argue that motherhood is very often exhausting and stretching in every way, the reality of the cranky mom syndrome is that our attitudes as moms have less to do with how our households are functioning, and more about the function of expectations in our homes. My daily life as a mom is replete with examples of how I often turn training into expectations, expectations into idols:

The desire to wake up to a quiet house is reasonable, but has it squelched my ability to respond to my children’s (sometimes foolish) needs with patience?

Is my need for peace and quiet so strong I’m willing to be unkind in the pursuing of it?

Does my children’s whining annoy and inconvenience me more than it drives me to pray and train?

Am I so prideful in the way I perceive my diligence that I am blind to teachable moments?

One of my favorite authors, Elyse Fitzpatrick, says this from her book, “Idols Of The Heart”:

“If you’re willing to sin to obtain your goal or if you sin when you don’t get what you want, then your desire has taken God’s place and you’re functioning as an idolater.”

The starting point for us, moms, in any difficult parenting situation…in any challenging schedule…in any wearisome trial, is to examine what idols our attitudes and actions  are pointing to. You see, my intolerance, impatience, frustration, and crabbiness, can often be traced back to an inordinate desire for ease, comfort, calm, and self-assurance. What makes us crabby often reveals where our idols dwell.  My idolatry of those things make me willing to act in whatever way seems fitting when something (or someone) stands in the way of that ease, comfort, calm, and self-assurance. Can you see it in your own life?

Replace Idolatry With The Worship Of Christ

Friends, our only hope for overcoming the idols in our lives is to replace them with He who is greater. There is no magic formula or instant solution to overcoming a bad attitude or a crabby outlook…but there is hope when we know where true hope may be found. When we worship Jesus, and focus our hearts on who he is and what he has accomplished on the Cross, we begin to worship Him, and not our comfort. We begin to see Him, and not our expectations, as being worthy of worship. We begin to trust in his work in us, rather than our work for him.

Because of Grace,

Ruth Chou Simons,

This post is part of the month-long challenge From Grouchy…To Great.  Please check the series page for posts from the other awesome contributors on this topic.

From Grouchy…To Great

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  • ktg

    “true hope may be found. When we worship Jesus, and focus our hearts on who he is ” I loved that line this morning. I feel bad every time I snap at my kids to be quiet when I’m trying to get a few extra minutes of sleep. I need Jesus to give up my idol of a quiet house with 2 toddlers!

    • Ruth Simons

      I’m so there with you. I have six, and the youngest is 9 months….oh how I idolize peace and quiet!!

  • jewell12

    Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book has been one of the top five most influencial books in my life at this point! I’ve been savoring it and re-reading it for three years now. Oh to live out those truths more! Thanks for sharing

    • Ruth Simons

      I love several of her books and re-read them all the time too. :)

  • Lora Farrell

    Well, that was a kick in the pants that I really needed! Thank you! This series has really hit home with me so far.

    • Ruth Simons

      Blessings to you, Lora…it’s a kick in the pants for me too! :)

  • Katie ‘Rice’ Gjerde

    Fantastic post! It put some of my “bad moods” into perspective. I recently made myself a commitment to stop yelling. I’ve made it a whole two days :D Yesterday was quite a challenge, but I managed to not raise my voice.

    • Ruth Simons

      What do they say about forming a habit? It takes 30 days or so? Hang in there…and look to the Cross for comfort and strength!

      • Katie ‘Rice’ Gjerde

        Thank you for the encouragement :D I know I had some divine intervention yesterday for sure :D Praise the Lord for that!!

  • Stefanie Cottor

    Thank you, I needed that! :)

    • Ruth Simons

      You’re so welcome!

  • Amy Yearout

    I had a talk with my 3 boys on the way to school this morning about my yelling. I told them I would do better and they all told me they would do better too. They are 9, 7 & 5. What little darlings! Our God’s timing is awesome. I’m so thankful I read this post!

    • Ruth Simons

      Yes, I am regularly confessing, and asking forgiveness from my boys…praise God he is not through with us yet.

      • Amy Yearout

        Thank you Ruth!!!

  • Christin

    Oh my — I needed this SO much. Thank you Ruth.

    • Ruth Simons

      Hugs, my friend. Glad we are on the same page!

  • Keiona

    This is me – thank you for the refocus. God bless you

    • Ruth Simons

      You’re so welcome…blessings!

  • Elizabeth Ziegler

    ouch. Ouch. I did so well when my son was young, but now that he is 15, I expect him to function as an adult and know when to stay out of my way! This ought not to be. I get it, I repent.

    • Ruth Simons

      I’m there with you…and it is truly God’s mercy that we are never allowed to get very far in complacency and laziness as moms. Our work is never done…and God’s work in us isn’t either, praise God!

  • Myra

    “What makes us crabby often reveals where our idols dwell.” When I first read the caption on the photo, I had different understanding of it. I quickly thought of how I stayed up way too late last night on Facebook, and hence was irritable and crabby with my kids this morning, before school. In a sense, I was idolizing FB last night, rather than having some quiet prayer time and going to sleep, as originally planned. So of course, this morning I wanted the “ease and comfort” of a quiet, smooth morning, and took it out on my kids when they were just being kids. :( Yes, time to repent, refocus and seek God more. Thank you for the reminder!

    • Ruth Simons

      Myra, I’ve been there too. Idolizing self is always at the root….I’m so thankful God is not done with us and is transforming us day by day.

    • Darlene Oakley

      Myra, I’ve done the same thing. Although, I quite readily admit that I’m tired because of my own decision to do such things.

    • shara tietz

      I had the same night. What a reality check. ..fb neess the back burner.

  • Sarah Curry

    What a perspective changer. Thank you for the challenge.

    • Ruth Simons

      You are so welcome. Blessings to you, Sarah.

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  • Susan Benson

    Guilty! I have had those frustrated emotions this week with 5 kids trapped in our home because of snow and I am done in. Need to refuel on His precious well-spring! Thanks for the reminder!
    xo, Susan

    • Ruth Simons

      Oh cabin fever sure can set in!! I pray we will be refreshed as we walk away from idolizing circumstance and conditions, and worship Christ through whom we can do all things.

  • Heather

    Okay, I do follow and I am so guilty. The bible says be angry but don’t sin in response to your anger( my paraphrase). There is never a good excuse for losing your temper but there are many times when children need to learn to think of someone else’s need besides their own – that mommy (and daddy) has her (his) limits. Can we possibly have enough self control to communicate this to our kids?

    • Ruth Simons

      You know, Heather, our kids DO need to learn wisdom, self-control, and obedience to their parents. And really, we as moms, will never have a perfect track record for self-control or anger management. But, our weaknesses point to our need for Christ. And only the cross makes it possible for us to live out the Gospel with our kids and to show them what being transformed in Jesus is all about.

      • Heather

        Yes, It is possible to have enough self control – thru Jesus’ strength, His Holy Spirit working in our lives.

  • Kelly@TheNourishingHome

    So true, Ruth! Love this wisdom you’ve shared and the book you mentioned. It’s on my top 5 list of books the Lord used to changed my heart. Thinking about why we’re angry before we open our mouths – taking the time to do a heart check and a prayer to God – is wise! Thank you for encouraging and inspiring us! I’m going to go dig up my copy of Idols of the Heart and put that back in the circulation for my reading list this year! Thank you, friend!

    • Ruth Simons

      Yes! I pull my copy out for re-reads regularly! Hugs to you, friend.

      • Kara @ The Chuppies

        Ruth…I’m late to reading this, but new before I even arrived here that I would love it! Thanks for this one. So good. And I’m looking at Kelly’s comment above and missing both of you! Makes me want to do a re-read soon too!

        • Ruth Simons

          Love you, Kara.

  • Sierra

    Thank you for speaking to my heart today. I’ve been studying through James and James 1:20 has been my challenge: “For the wrath of mom does not produce the righteousness of God.” I never thought of my “needs” as idols, but they really are. I demand quiet, require consistency, push my kids towards obedience…but to the detriment of my testimony. I often end up raising my voice in frustration as I prod my children to “be like Jesus”. Thankfully, my children are full of grace and forgiveness. Ruth, I have been reading through your blog the last few weeks and have been inspired to love my calling as a mother, not begrudge it. Thank you for the daily reminder!

    • Ruth Simons

      Thank you, Sierra. I think you’ve worded it so well here. I think we can desire such great and noble things– right things– but when we find ourselves bitter and angry when we don’t have the outcomes we desire, we know there’s something not quite right about our hearts. Praise Jesus it is he who makes it possible for us to be more than we are naturally.

  • Callie Haddox Branch

    You know that uncomfortable, yet relieving, moment when God puts a finger on that exact sin you’ve been so desperately struggling with? Yah, I’m in that moment. Oh, Ruth, I need to hear this – right now. Thank you!

    • Ruth Simons

      Yes, I’m in that uncomfortable place regularly! God’s at work in us, Callie….press in!

  • Haydee Rivarola

    This truly brought conviction to my heart…..something I needed. Thank you! This post spoke to me in such a way that only God does….

    • Ruth Simons

      Thank you for commenting. And blessings to you, Haydee!

  • Elissa Philgence

    Hi Ruth
    You are so right, I do see it now. I set up idols in my home. I long for and pray daily for peace and when I think God as not granted me that peace I so long for, I go looking for it.

    I get upset at my children for not falling asleep on time, because I need some me time. I get upset at them for talking too loud because I want some peace and quite. I see it now, what I upset about does become my idols.

    Thank you so much for sharing this light.

    Peace and blessings.

    • Ruth Simons

      Isn’t it amazing how wanting peace and calm is a good and right thing to desire, but it become an idol when we wield a foul attitude towards others when we don’t get it? Boy, this is an area I’m working through too!

  • Sharon

    Thank you so much for this, Ruth. If only I’d read it a couple of days ago, I may have not been a mean Mama the entire morning earlier in the week.

    • Ruth Simons

      He is at work in us, Sharon. His timing is perfect… Blessings to you!

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  • Krista

    Oh my…. have you been peeking into my home each morning? I am relating so much to this! I like to have my quiet routine every morning and if it becomes interrupted by the whining I get unhinged and embarrassingly cranky.
    Thank you for this. I always feel terrible once I get to work. Always breathing a “please don’t let him resent me for this when he’s grown” prayer.
    Recently, when I start to feel cranky, I have resorted to my new mantra “Help me Jesus! ” I believe it helps.
    thank you for being real and showing those of us cranky mamas that we aren’t alone.

  • Amber Mauldin

    I find myself acting unusually impatient lately. Being the mom of a 3yo and 5yo is the greatest joy and I so often lose sight of that. This post highlights my weaknesses in ways I hadn’t realized. Am I idolizing a clean house over my childrens’ happiness? Thank you for this!

    Amber Mauldin

  • Cymbelly Marzan

    Motherhood sure is a work in progress and I am thankful He is ever so patient with me in transforming me to allow my children express their personalities, like how unique God made them. Thanks for this reminder to see the idols in my life, my reasons for losing my patience with them. Because of this, I will open my eyes more and eliminate these idols, thus eliminating my need to raise my voice at my kids.

  • Darlene Oakley

    Thank you so much for this article. That’s exactly what I’ve found.

    A couple of years ago, my church’s women’s Bible study group worked through Lysa Terkheurst’s Made to Crave study. While she takes the perspective of craving food, those of us for whom food wasn’t an issue found other things we craved that were putting God second. And it surprised me what my idol was: fear. Fear of losing of control. Fear of not having enough spare time to do the things I want to do. So whenever I start feeling separated from God or realize I’m being crabbier than I would really like, I ask myself, what am I reacting to? What am I afraid of that’s making me react like this?

    I have to do this quite often and need to do this quite often.

    Thanks again for the reminder!

  • J Quintero


  • Katie Burris

    Wow…this is a wake-up call for me! What i have been excusing as “bad habits” are actually IDOLS stealing my time, my focus, my faith, my heart and having me turn my precious family time into rage time (in a horrible way). Thank you for these words…Thank God for the timing!

  • Smith

    Except for the intimations about teaching your children how to behave rather than letting them drive you nuts, find this article a bit offensive and disempowering towards moms. I say don’t condemn yourself as an idol worshipper. Listen to your grumpiness and take it seriously and honor it as a serious emotion that expresses a real need and ask it what you might do to address it. I really don’t like to see women beat up on each other in this way–as if the need for some peace in one’s life is a form of idolatry. Maybe it is a real need!

  • Alysha, mother of two

    I so needed to read this. Thank you for posting.

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  • Ingrid James

    I chose to wake up & get out of bed and be done getting ready for the day before before my kids are awake, no matter how late I stayed up the night before!!! This is something I Chose to do and I Chose to be in a good mood for my Children because I am their Mother. I Chose not to be Crabby in the morning or any time of the day for them which you also make that Choice this has nothing to do with idols???? Every morning when you wake YOU decide “will this be a good day or a bad day” do not blame YOUR choices on someone or something else.

  • Gretchen

    This is a much-needed word for me today. Thank you so much for this perspective and definition of an idol. I think many people today think idols are only little statues we worship, but it’s anything that comes before (or above) God in your life. God revealed 3 idols in my life a few months ago and today He has revealed another through this post. Thank you!

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