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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Tuesday 13th January 2015

#PreApproved Writer of the Week: Caryn Christensen

#PreApproved Sisterhood Series

LoveIdolPrintable_pink Every Tuesday night, one of our PreApproved sisters shares her story on letting go of a love idol. Together, we’re giving up our love idols, and we’re not taking them back. We are already approved; we have nothing to prove. In Christ, we are #preapproved.

Deep Cleaning and Love Idols
Caryn Christensen

A new year presents opportunities for us to reflect on the past while at the same time, look to the future. For me, it’s a month dedicated to change and deep cleaning. I love to purge my closets, pantry, and office of the clutter that I’ve let “pile up” over time. All too often, it’s not until I explore the very back of the closet that I find that blouse or sweater I’ve forgotten about or discover an errant platter that hasn’t been used in…forever…tucked in the recesses of the cupboard. Although such items are obviously just taking up space, I’m not always eager to let them go.

Love idols can be like that too; they take up space that belongs to God, have no real value, but feel like we can’t live without them. Just as deep cleaning in our homes is necessary, so are times of intense searching of the heart in order to identify and let go of our love idols.

Last year, after reading Jennifer’s book, I committed my love idol to the Lord. Honestly, it was a hard and uncomfortable process. Getting rid of idols always is, because we’re dying to self – something we hate doing. But God is so good and gracious in restoring new life – His life, when we do!

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it;but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matt. 16:24-25

I’ve flirted with more than one love idol over the years. I’ve looked to others to get approval and gain self-esteem and I’ve held up the imaginary measuring stick of comparison in order to feel good about myself or my circumstances. But the idol most familiar to me, the one that left me craving praise and approval time and again, involves three special people.

For years, I placed my family (especially my children) above everything and everyone. I manipulated circumstances, tried to control outcomes, and worked very hard to make sure our girls were protected, noticed and given opportunities that I thought they should have, all because I didn’t receive those things growing up. I forgot that my girls were on loan from the Lord, and that there’s a difference between stewardship and ownership. I believed that if I was a good (perfect) wife and mother – a title I wanted more than anything else – somehow, I’d be more lovable. It turns out, I could have saved everyone a lot of heartache if I believed what God tells me in his Word – that I’m already preapproved!

God is very clear when He says that we are to have no other gods (idols) before him, and as with every idol we construct and raise up, God loves us enough to make sure they come down. Notice the first letter of idol starts with I? We must die to self if we are to please the Lord. God had to use extreme measures by allowing my family to fall completely apart at the seams in order show me that my way wasn’t working, before He restored us.

As 2015 begins, may I encourage you to join me in doing some deep cleaning of the heart? If you find any love idols, smash them to smithereens and put God back where He belongs – at the center of your heart.

My name is Caryn and I’m preapproved!

Caryn is a God-seeker, grace-dweller, tenderhearted daughter of the King. She is wife to her BH (Better Half), mama to two beautiful daughters, and Mrs. C to her elementary music students. She’s an ordinary woman with an extraordinary story that she seeks to live out with purpose and joy. Caryn writes at carynchristensen.com and www.deeperwaters.us.

 

 

Caryn is giving away a copy of Love Idol!

To enter for a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post. She’ll pick a winner and notify you if you’ve won.

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  • kelly greer

    Caryn. You picked an idol i think most mommasI know out there wrestle with for most of their patenting life.. Your comparison of stewardship vs. ownership are key differences and help us to better understand our roles and to let God have the ultimate authority and responsibility for our children. There is no better parent than He. I appreciate how God has stretched you in this area. Of your heart and filled it with his love. You can rest in that!

    • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

      It’s definitely been a process and a journey learning what my role as a parent (of young adults) is, and learning to TRUST God’s plans and purposes. With trust comes rest. Thank you, my preapproved friend, for stopping by and leaving your encouraging words
      🙂

  • Caryn, Thank you for willingly sharing your heart here. Releasing is hard especially when the idols are not sinful in and of themselves. I pray for Grace to choose the better part. I love you!

    • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

      This is such a tender spot for me (as you well know) Monica, and I think for most mamas at some point or another. The enemy is so crafty and whittles us down some days to feel like we are a ‘bad’ mom if we don’t do this or that for our kids. I thank God for Truth and for being encompassed by the grace that sets us free and makes us preapproved!

  • Thank you for you honest testimony that all mothers feel. It is so easy to put family above anything else – including God. I’m so thankful for His grace and preapproval!

    • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

      Amen and amen Diane! With the power of the Holy Spirit, we can kick those love idols to the curb and rest in His preapproval!!! <3

  • I’m all for deep cleaning and decluttering the stuff in my house room by room, but it’s so much harder to that with the rooms in my heart, right? Thanks for these words of encouragement, sweet friend. And I love you how point out what Idol starts with. Yup. I can see it.

    • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

      I’m giggling Becky, because I can so relate. Sometimes it seems easier to WORK than TRUST. And the ‘I’ thing…when God pointed that out recently, I could really see the enemy’s intentions and schemes behind an idol. I’m so glad you were encouraged my friend. Thank you for responding 🙂

  • Lou Ann Rudd

    Sounds like an area of my life that needs work. Sometimes it seems difficult to discern what is sacrifice to idols and what is sacrifice to God when taking care of those we love overtakes us. But, it boils down to loving Him first with all we’ve got. Only then can we truly love others.

    • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

      Oh how I agree with you Lou Ann. One litmus test for me is if I continue to wrestle with something that has to do with my girls. Whenever I’m persistently worried about something, even though I’ve prayed about it, I’ve come to realize I’m probably trying to control the outcome…and it’s a perfect time to bow out and put my TRUST in God. <3

  • Donna Godfrey

    You did it again Caryn…..your honesty exposes a area in my life that I sure need to work on. Thanks.

    • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

      Those love idols sure are persistent Donna! But greater is He that is IN us than he that is in the world. Amen?! Love you girl!

  • Lorna Loewen

    I’ve struggled so many times with trying to say just the right thing to my kids so they’ll make the right decision, etc. This never works because I’m not allowing God to do his work. I get in his way. I remind myself God loves my children more than I ever could and his plans are perfect.

    • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

      Lorna, I will *never* forget the time I was praying and hoping the situation would go a certain direction with one of my daughters. I could “hear” the Lord so clearly when He said, “Caryn, get out of My way.” It was at that moment that I realized I was trying so hard with all of my human effort and God had a good plan, but I was actually the one in the way of it. I sometimes have to remind myself still, just as you do Lorna, that God loves my kiddos even more than I. Thanks for hopping over here and letting me know how this impacted you. Bless you!!

  • Linda

    Thank you for bringing this subject to us! My favorite part was: “Love idols can be like that too; they take up space that belongs to God, have no real value, but feel like we can’t live without them. Just as deep cleaning in our homes is necessary, so are times of intense searching of the heart in order to identify and let go of our love idols.”
    May I give back to God the space that belongs to him!

    • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

      I’m with you Linda! Giving up the love idols and giving that space back to the Lord, because He’s the only One who can fill the God-holes! Thank you for taking the time to respond 🙂

  • Suzanna Gamble

    I gave my children over to God. He told me to and I knew that I had to do it, but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I wrestled with God for a while then I wrestled with myself, but I did it. And you know what? I think it’s the best thing I ever did for my children. I gave them to God and I allowed Him to make the decisions regarding them and their outcomes. I highly, highly recommend to any mother (or father) to do the same.

    • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

      Suzanna, your words are encouraging news to any parent who is struggling to lay their children on the alter and truly give them over to the Lord…that it’s worth it…that God will take care of them. And, in letting go of them, we are relieved of the responsibility and outcome of the choices they make. Their choices don’t make us either ‘good or bad’ parents. Thank you my preapproved sister in Christ, for reaffirming the Love Idol message 🙂

  • Lorilee Torgerson Mundfrom

    What a wonderful testimony of God’s grace at work! I too have tried to manipulate outcomes for my sons. God in His mercy saved me from myself and showed me their times (lives) were in HIS hands.

    • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

      Thank you for raising your hand along with me Lorilee. I too am SO grateful for His mercy and grace that saved not only me, but my kiddos (from my over-parenting) as well!

  • Sharon O

    love the writing. have not read the book but would like to someday.

    • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

      Thank you Sharon. Maybe you will win a copy 😉

  • Caryn, as many others have said, this is not an idol unique to you. Thank you for honestly sharing and giving this idol voice…that can be shut down. So thankful for preapproval by Him! Lovely post!

    • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

      I have been a bit surprised by the response Mary, as the enemy sure wants us to believe (with any idol) that we are alone in our thinking (and suffering). Thank you for your support and kind words.

  • Jennifer Cleveland

    I think it is interesting as you point out, that idols can be “good” things, like wanting to do parenting well. I can totally relate to putting family/marriage in a place in my heart where it didn’t belong. I also love this: “Notice the first letter of idol starts with I?” Let the deep cleaning begin. Thanks Caryn!

    • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

      Jennifer, there’s an old saying that says we can be sincere, while being sincerely wrong. Sincerity is not proof of truth. I think many (if not most) of us start out sincerely desiring to be or do our best. Somewhere along the way, our motives begin to change and that’s when the “I” rears its ugly head… “I” want this or that because then “I” look good. The enemy works hard to disguise our motives, but “Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world.”! Thank you Jennifer, for taking the time to share. <3

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  • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    Jennifer, thank you so much for entrusting me to share my Love Idol story here, on your beautiful blog. Your book has been life changing for me as well as the teen girls I’ve been privileged to mentor. It is such a joy to know you in real life and to know that you live out the message entrusted to you by the Lord. Sending you h-u-g-e {{{hugs}}}! THE WINNER OF THE “LOVE IDOL” GIVEAWAY IS DONNA GODFREY 🙂

Won't lie. The last few days = 💩. The antidote for bad days and everything else 💩-ish is 80s music. Of course. Go… ift.tt/2imGws5 pic.twitter.com/PhOLeR7L2C