“Motherhood is another area of our life God uses to transform us. While He uses other circumstances, roles, and places in our life—marriage, work, sickness, suffering, relationships, even getting stuck in traffic—to change and refine us, He also uses motherhood. As mothers, we ought to view the difficulties and challenges we face in our mothering as opportunities to learn, grow, obey, and be changed more into the likeness of Christ.”
From the moment we see that positive pregnancy test, to when they place our crying baby in our arms for the first time, and I figure even as they are dropped off at university, this statement is true. Motherhood is one of the many avenues God uses to sanctify us—a place where sins we may not have struggled with in the past will surface overnight like weeds in a garden as we are presented with new challenges and circumstances (lack of sleep, less alone time, more time spent in the house, sore arms from carrying a baby all day, seemingly endless crying…). In this new adventure with peaks of joy and excitement along with trenches of fear and sadness, we may be tempted to turn our hearts to another saviour to carry us through.
In her book Idols of a Mother’s Heart, Christina Fox sets out to help mothers recognize the idols they have stored away in the corners of their hearts. But she doesn’t leave us there with a pile of idols to clean up on our own—with the words of a fellow mom who knows the battle well herself, Christina guides mothers how to turn from those idols and back to God, without forgetting the gospel hope we desperately need.
In the first part of the book, Motherhood, Worship, and Idolatry, Christina sets the foundations. She answers questions such as what is idolatry, what is worship, what is sanctification, what is my purpose, and how to identify idols. As moms, I know we don’t always have a lot of “brain power”—our minds are foggy with lack of sleep and the amount of energy we are exerting caring for this new, little human. But Christina explains these grand truths in way that is simple to understand and isn’t overwhelming. I was able to consume this book sitting on the floor with my seven month old while he chattered and played next to me.
The second part of her book confronts five common idols mothers worship. She defines them and shows how they pale in comparison to Christ. But while convicting me of my sins, Christina didn’t allow me to stay in a place of guilt and shame, but in tandem reminded me of the gospel at the end of each chapter. The final part of her book is two chapters that focus on how to turn from our idols, regardless of what they may be, and how to return to glorifying and enjoying God alone.
What sets this book apart from many other parenting and motherhood books is its gospel emphasis. I have read books that strive to place my hope and identity in motherhood and my strategies and systems for raising a child. But Christina doesn’t do that. She does the opposite—she roots me in Christ alone. She reminds me that I can’t place my hopes, dreams, identity, and worth in motherhood or any of the achievements and failures that might accompany it. I am in Christ alone, and he is the One at work in me. Christina doesn’t let me place any hope in myself to be a better mom (which is a pretty hopeless place to be); she is constantly reminding me from Scripture that I am saved by Christ, sanctified by Christ, and persevered by Christ, all of which is an act of his grace to me.
I heartily recommend this book to any mother—whether you are a mom to a baby yet to be born, a toddler, a teen, or an adult, I believe this book will encourage your heart.
Christina Fox, Idols of a Mother's Heart(Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2018), 31-32.