Infertility, Surrender, Trusting God

Heart: 4 Steps for Dealing With Idols

Picture of a valley leading down to the ocean with high mountainous walls on each side

@JeanneTakenaka

I slumped on our bed and cried. 

Every month, I careened on an emotional roller coaster. Every month, I prayed, begging God for a baby. Every month, when my cycle came on time, my heart plummeted.

I don’t remember the exact day or event when God confronted me. But He showed me where my heart was set.

…on a pregnancy

…on filling my arms with a squirming newborn

…on having my heart craving satisfied.

And that was the problem.

Young men hiking on a trail surrounding by lush vegetation leading into a valley

In the middle of the valley of infertility, God showed me that my heart had become set on having a child. Sure, I talked to (not with) Him about it. I begged. I reasoned. I may have even tried to manipulate.

Maybe God finally had enough. Or perhaps He saw my future if I continued on this track. One day, He stopped me hard with the thought that I had made motherhood an idol. 

“What? I love you, God.”

“But you want a baby more than you want Me.”

That stung. First, I was angry at His quiet declaration. But as I considered where my thoughts had been, where my heart was focused, I was ashamed. He was right. 

Tangled branches overhead with leaves reflecting the sunlight

Here are a few things that revealed my idolatrous-ness:

  • I began to base my value on having a baby
  • I sometimes became angry with God because He hadn’t given me one 
  • I strategized how to become pregnant
  • The idea of motherhood became more prevalent in my thoughts than my relationship with God

I wrestled with the idea of motherhood usurping my heart’s throne. I was a believer, and I did want what God wanted . . . but I wanted what I wanted even more.

Small red flowers growing amid tall plants near a rock

Through much prayer, journaling, and time spent in God’s word, I had to own where my thoughts and heart had wandered. I had to choose God, and I had to want Him more than I wanted a baby.

I wonder now if God deliberately held off giving us a child so my heart could re-align with Him.

A path leading below tall trees with sun reflecting in the leaves

How do we master the idols in our lives? 

  • We must confess to our Lord that we’ve been worshiping an idol. We each have different idols. Motherhood. The perfect marriage/being loved the way we think we should be. Complete health. All problems solved. Money. More time. Material items. We need to search our hearts and define our idols.
  • We must be willing to give up our idols. This can impact who we always thought we were or should be. My idol tied in tightly with my identity. Letting go of the idea of motherhood reframed what made me “enough.”
  • We must choose to give our hearts back to God, withholding nothing. When we’ve allowed an idol to take up residence in our hearts, the only thing that will dislodge it is pursuing God—spending time in His word and praying whenever the idol comes to mind.
  • We must surrender the idol, completely. If we justify why we need to hold onto it, that idol still controls us. And this will cause a rift in our relationship with God.
A pond reflecting early morning sunlight and clouds and trees

God asked me to surrender to Him my desire for motherhood

It. Was. Painful. 

Tears traced down my cheeks. But, in entrusting that desire to God, His peace began to permeate every part of who I am. I chose to believe that His plans were best, even if they didn’t include a baby. 

Some months later while driving home after watching a friend’s children, God spoke to me, almost audibly. 

Small purple flowers with a background of dark green leaves

“Jeanne, I will give you a child.”

My heart stuttered. “Was that you, Lord? Or was that me wishing?”

His words came again, with a slightly different emphasis: “I will give you a child.”

I may have cried a few tears that day. 

Meme that says, "Sometimes God refines us—preparing us—before He offers the desires of our hearts." on a backdrop of a dim path with lush foliage on each side

Our Father is faithful. Sometimes God refines us—preparing us—before He offers the desires of our hearts. Our hearts must be in a right place with Him, not holding onto things we think we must have to be complete. We have a Father who loves us. 

Let’s choose to trust that in His love our Father gives us His absolute best.

What about you? Have you ever held onto an idol? What’s helped you to deal with idols in your life?

Click to Tweet: I was a believer, and I did want what God wanted . . . but I wanted what I wanted even more.

I’m linking up with #TellHisStory and #RaRaLinkup

26 thoughts on “Heart: 4 Steps for Dealing With Idols”

  1. There is one idol left to me,
    and I cannot say this clearer,
    that it is the one which I see
    when I look into the mirror.
    I’m harder than the mountain granite,
    tougher than the nickel steel,
    and cancer’s vicious pain, damn it,
    is that which I refuse to feel.
    And so I lay immortal soul
    in a place that bears no fools,
    one that keeps the hard man whole
    in obeying Big Boy Rules.
    I’m sure God will catch up at last,
    but for now, it’s a blast.

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  2. I love how Piper describes his own heart as an “idol factory” and I’ve seen this so clearly in my own life. God’s good gifts get turned into something they were never intended to be, and suddenly we are on our faces before them.

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    1. Oh Michele, I hadn’t heard that. An idol-factory. It’s so true! Like you, I’ve turned some of God’s good gifts into idols, sigh. I’m glad that God deals with our hearts in a way that shows us the truth and offers a chance to realign our hearts with Him again.

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  3. I have been thinking a lot about idols lately. Unfortunately, my thoughts have been on thoughts of idols in others’ lives. Your post made me realize I need to look for idols in my OWN life. Thank you, Jeanne. Wonderful, well-written post that really hit home.

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    1. Laurie, I love when God does that! I’m like you . . . too quick to see others’ idols and blind to my own. I’m so glad God used these words to speak to you. He often does that for me through your words. 🙂

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  4. You know Jeanne I felt exactly the same way when after three biological children I became determined to adopt. I had always wanted to – since I was a small child. But like you, I made that an idol. I even did a Sarah and made it happen my way. Which did NOT work well.
    Then God told me basically what he told you. And… yes, after I submitted, He gave me the desire He had placed in my heart in the first place.
    Thanks for a vulnerable post. Your mother heart is beautiful!

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    1. Dalyn, as I’ve considered this post over the past number of days, I’ve marveled at what God’s shown me idols can come from. They come from desires, from giftings, from other things. And, like you, I learned that when I try to do things as Sarah did (child-wise or otherwise), it never ends well. Someday, I’d LOVE to hear the long version of your story. Thank you for your encouraging words!

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  5. Oh Jeanne … I’ve been exactly there, my friend. This is not an easy message to share, but you’ve done it with such gentle kindness. And yes, our Father is so faithful to withhold those things we so desperately desire because He knows what we truly need.

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    1. Lois, I thought about you as I wrote these words. I wondered if you struggled too. Thank you for your encouraging words. I love what you said about how God isn’t afraid to withhold what we want in order to give us what we need. Sending you a hug, friend.

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  6. While for me it was not having a baby, I surely had an idol in my life. It is so hard to surrender an idol and I am so grateful for the way in which God brought me to the point of doing so. Jeanne, you have so beautifully shared on a hard subject with a gentleness sure to bless many.

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    1. Joanne, discovering we’ve been clinging to an idol can be so humbling. And surrendering it can be so hard. I’m glad God showed you what you were holding onto and helped you work through that. Thank you for sharing here. 🙂

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  7. Thanks for sharing this, Jeanne! It’s so easy for even good things to become idols and this is a helpful reminder to guard against that. Success in music was definitely an idol for me for a while but I’m glad God took it away to show me that there are more important things while it is still something I can enjoy in its rightful place.

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    1. Lesley, you’re right. Good things can become idols. It’s ironic how, a gift God gives us to honor Him, can become an idol. Been there. Done that one too, friend. And you’re right, God has ways of showing us what’s really important in our lives. I like how you’ve come to the place of being able to enjoy music in its rightful place. Thank you for your words.

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  8. I can imagine your tears Jeanne. It is hard to give up that dream and fully trust that God’s plan is the best! But what joy He also brought you later–a story of His faithfulness. Currently I am hosting No Other God’s (Kelly Minter) bible study on idols and this week she helped us identify our idols. For me, He points toward my want of career and money. I’m still wrestling with it I must admit! 🙂 But trust He is refining me for my best and His best.

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    1. Lynn, you’re so right. It is hard to give up that dream and fully trust God. I think sometimes the first step to a deeper, more authentic relationship with God comes in identifying and relinquishing those idols we’ve held onto. That Bible study sounds like a really good one. Thank you for sharing what you’re struggling with. I’m praying for you today. I appreciate you, friend!

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  9. thanks for this reminder that our idols come in all kinds of disguises. i wish i had known the truths of your wisdom many many years ago.

    it would have saved me some heartache and a whole lotta time.

    bless you, friend …

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  10. Wow, Jeanne! Such powerful truths. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It can’t be easy. I’m sorry for your pain, but I rejoice that God taught you important lessons that you can now share with us. This reminds me of Lois’ book. One of the truths that impacted me was how obsession of a dream can lead to idolatry and put Christ on a back burner. Thank you for all this encouragement to put Christ and His plan first in our lives. Love and blessings!

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    1. Thank you, Trudy. This was a number of years ago, so I guess it’s easier to share now. And you know how God is, He brings beauty from the pain…sooner or later. We have to be so intentional to keep Jesus first in our thoughts and hearts, don’t we? I always appreciate your words, Trudy!

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  11. I can’t imagine how hard it was to go through your journey of infertility. I wouldn’t have thought that focusing on wanting a child could become an idol. I see now that anything can become an idol if it pulls us away from our relationship with God. I am thankful God brought you two sons to complete your family. He does hear the cries of our hearts.

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    1. Mary, I suspect we all have our journeys into the hard places. When we’re willing, God teaches us surprising things in those places, and He brings us out on the other side knowing Him better. I’m thankful God gave us two sons, too. They’re pretty special young men. 🙂

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