When Your Family is Your Idol

Are we giving our kids any opportunity to actually SEE GOD WORK? In all of our protecting and in all of our keeping them separate what if we are not only protecting them from all the bad but we are preventing them from ever seeing God DO ANYTHING GOOD. They never experience any moments that make them say, “HOLY CRAP. Did you just see that? This God is AMAZING. Heck yes I believe!”

A couple of years ago, I was driving to my parents’ house down a neighborhood street. Charlee and Hattie were in the backseat, whining I’m sure. As we approached my parents’ street, I noticed a dark-skinned elderly woman, probably in her 80’s, walking down the street the same direction as us. In each arm, she toted a grocery bag, presumably from the convenient store a couple of blocks back. She was noticeably exhausted, walking with a limp, pausing ever few feet to catch her breath.

Since we were going pretty slow, I had a good 30 seconds to make a decision. She clearly needed a ride. Buuut I had my 3-year-old and 1-year-old in the car with me. What if she’s dangerous? What if that’s not really milk in her bag but a bomb? What if she’s pretending to walk with a limp but she’s actually a 25-year-old man in disguise? I have kids in the car. My kids’ safety always come first.

And I passed her. You guys. I passed an 80-year-old woman with a limp carrying two bags of groceries. Because of my kids.

Thankfully, God grabbed me by the neck and screamed, “ARE YOU SERIOUS??? Turn around, woman. She is 80 years old. Turn. This. Car. A. Round.”

I ashamedly swung a U and invited her into the passenger seat. She was so grateful and so precious. I took her about a half-mile down the road to a little shack, couldn’t have been much bigger than my living room, the grass taller than my kids. She gushed her thank-yous and crept to the door.

That was the first time I realized I loved my kids more than I loved Jesus. More than I loved bringing his Kingdom down to this Earth.

That was the first (but not last) time I realized my family was my idol.

 

 

Isn’t the gospel the story of a man who lived in the middle of an affluent neighborhood and hung out with mostly Jews? I mean, he was still pretty nice to the Gentiles, but wouldn’t have pursued a deep relationship with them. Isn’t it about how he REALLY loved all the religious people who went to church all the time? They were his faves. And I’m pretty sure he tried not to associate with too many people who would “ruin his witness”?

Or is it about a man who that calls for us to SELL OUT. Sell everything. Leave our family. To LOVE HIM MORE than our mother, father, sister, brother. More than our FAMILIES. To not let anything get in the way of spreading this incredibly GOOD news. To make fishers of all men, not just our own men.

What does it mean to raise children, to grow a family, in light of THAT kind of gospel?  When my instincts scream, “COME HERE LITTLE FAMILY! EVERYONE JUST HUDDLE TOGETHER SO THAT WE CAN BE SAFE FROM ALL THE BAD, SCARY THINGS!!” and I just want to tuck them under my wing and protect them from the whole world.

 

Should I protect them from all the outsiders, the no-gooders, the “least of these”? Should I shield them from the destitute, the addicted, the desperate? Should I just surround them with “Christian” people who listen to “Christian” music and send them to “Christian” camps?

Raising children can be terrifying, not only because this world is scary and the responsibility is HUGE but because at some point in the last couple of decades, Christian parents got the formula wrong. Kids aren’t buying it anymore. Why are young adults leaving the church in droves? What did we miss?

Maybe, they realized they couldn’t believe in something they’ve never seen. And maybe, just maybe, they’ve never seen God. Sure, they’ve seen church. They’ve seen praise bands. They’ve seen Bible Bowls. They’ve seen preachers. But they’ve never actually seen God. How could they? They’ve been tucked under our wing the whole time.

Are we giving our kids any opportunity to actually SEE GOD WORK? In all of our protecting and in all of our keeping them separate what if we are not only protecting them from all the bad but we are preventing them from ever seeing God DO ANYTHING GOOD. They never experience any moments that make them say, “HOLY CRAP. Did you just see that? This God is AMAZING. Heck yes I believe in Him!”

 

On our way to my parents’ house that day, Charlee rattled off question after question about that sweet old woman. Who was she? Why did we pick her up? What was wrong with her? Why didn’t she have a car?

I got to explain to her that this is what people do when they follow Jesus. Sure, we’d read bible stories about it. We had talked about taking care of people who needed help. But that was the first time she got it. That was the first time it meant something to her.

And I’d almost let it pass me by. For her. Because I’d rather her be safe than saved.

Hi, I’m Jordan, and I’m an Idolater

Don’t you hate it when you accidentally feel convicted? Gosh dang.

My girl Priscilla (Shirer) called me out this week on some crap and I’m really hating her right now. She asked me this question (in one of her bible studies… if only I were cool enough to be her real-life friend) and I, regretfully, answered honestly. Regretfully, because I didn’t realize where she was going with it… and that she was about to tell me I needed to make some changes.

Here’s what she asked me:

Do you have difficulty being content without something?

Go ahead. Answer it yourself.

If I was going to be honest with myself, I knew there was an answer hiding, trying to crawl out, glaring down at my pen, but I was hesitant, a little embarrassed even, to write it down. There are certain obsessions that I would feel totally comfortable admitting to: my kids, my husband, books, fresh air, vegetables. These are things that are okay to want. Okay to miss. But then there are the shameful answers, the ones I don’t want to tell people about.

So hey, I’m Jordan, and I’m addicted to Facebook.

Yikes. That’s embarrassing.

It all started when I became a stay-at-home-mom. Not only did I have constant accessibility, but being trapped in isolation, literally having conversations with a mute day in and day out, the need for relationships became desperate. In college and while teaching, I interacted all day with other people. Face to face! But now, physical relationships are difficult to maintain on a weekly, much less daily basis. BUT. I found connections via social media.

Facebook became my community. You see, my real life community is … um … small. There are days when the only adult interaction I have from wake-up until 8 pm are via Instagram pics, blog posts, and Facebook comments. I know — I should get out more. It’s a catch 22: my sanity pulls me toward the wild outdoors but then my brain steps in front of the door and reminds me of nap times, budgets, imminent tantrums, and feeding schedules. Some days, it’s just not worth it. So some days, I’m a hermit. But then I get my fix on social media.

Here’s the problem. Priscilla told me that what we call “obsessions, cravings, bad habits, and issues” are actually idols. She says, “What if we got honest about what we’re really dealing with? Let’s call an idol an idol.” Whoa, whoa, whoa. Idol? That’s a big four letter word that makes me feel reeeally uncomfortable.

Let’s define idol.

 1: the worship of a physical object as a god.

Haven’t bowed down or prayed to Lord Facebook.

But wait. There’s another one.

2: immoderate attachment or devotion to something or someone. 

Crap.

When it comes down to it, I spend too much time on my computer. An immoderate amount. This is a much more obvious issue if my girls are awake or my husband’s home. But it’s just as much a problem if I’m by myself. Here’s the kicker — I’m clearly an idolater because my relationship with God is suffering. There’s so many more valuable things I could be doing during nap time than stalking you. I’ve even written a list of those “more important than the computer” things and posted it in my room as a reminder. Just in case I forget.

I love that I’ve formed friendships with people I never would have otherwise. I love that I get to see my friends’ kids grow up. I love being able to communicate so easily with pretty much anyone I’m missing.

Those are the reasons I’m not completely deleting my account altogether… yet. But I’m going to set some restrictions. I’m still in the process of working out the logistics. I need to define some practical, but necessary, boundaries. And that’s why I’m posting this for all the world (well… my FB world) to see. Because I know myself, and I know I’d cave. And I know this is a big deal. There are big, important things to do in this world. And it’s time to shut the computer down.

So now I have a whole cyberspace full of accountability partners. Feel free to call me out. And feel free to join me. Seriously. If any of this sounds familiar to you, let me know (hashtagmommyfail@gmail.com, leave a comment below, or text me if we’re real life buds). This type of thing is way easier if you’re on a team. So let’s be Non-Facebook friends. 🙂