Day 3: When Ideals Become Idols. Part 1.

The last post talked about rejecting fear-based motivation. There are plenty of good reasons to kick fear to the curb but here’s another big one:

Fear has a way of turning our ideals into idols.

Well, fear mixed with pride but we’ll get to pride later.

Idealism and her evil twin sister — Perfectionism — have been my lifelong companions, traipsing alongside me and shouting their requirements into each stage and season of my life.

But at each and every new place, I squared off with a disheartening reality: Life is falling painfully short of what it’s “supposed” to look like. I am falling painfully short. My marriage is falling painfully short. My parenting is falling painfully short. My children are falling painfully short. I. can’t. get. this. right. 

Scared that I was doomed to this very messy everyday, I simply tried harder. I read more books. I adopted all sort of resolutions. I got a PhD in do-better-ness. And in the midst of so much striving, followed by self-condemnation when I didn’t measure up, I allowed fear, idealism, and pride to slip in the back door and motivate my thoughts and behaviors on everything from motherhood to my spiritual life.
It’s therefore no surprise that Fear and its friends were huge players in my decisions about schoolYes, I homeschooled for an array of positive, practical, family-friendly reasons. But those good and fine reasons were also mixed with a host of reservations.

  • What about sub-standard content and methodologies?
  • What if my kids don’t develop critical thinking skills?
  • What if they imitate all the stuff this crazy world will throw at them in public school?
  • What if they get hurt or bullied?
  • What if they don’t develop a love for learning because the inefficiency and busywork of school sucks the joy right out of it?
  • What if, what if, what if?
It’s normal and loving to want the best things for our children. We love them and we want to equip them with all they’ll need for a life of responsibility, character, and “success.” But it’s easy for these good things — like a great education and like-minded friends — to become ultimate things.


More on “ideals turned idols” tomorrow. {Since this post was 920 words, 400-ish more than I promised these posts would be.} We’ll pick up where this leaves off tomorrow.

What about you? What ideals of your have a way of turning into idols?

To read the other posts I’ve written on this topic, you can go here and find them all in one place. I’m linking up with The Nester and her tribe of 31 Dayers here.


Don’t want to miss a post in the series? You can subscribe and have each bite-sized post delivered right to your inbox. As always, you may unsubscribe any time you like. I promise not to sell your address to pirates, aliens, spammers, or The Gap.


  1. says

    You know my kids have graduated, but I’m reading this series because it speaks to me in other ways than probably what you’re intending.

    This quote really spoke to me: “I allowed fear, idealism, and pride to slip in the back door and motivate my thoughts and behaviors on everything from motherhood to my spiritual life.”

    The other night I literally dreamed that someone came in through the back door of my house to destroy me and you would not even believe the things that have transpired since that dream. Your words are exactly what I needed to hear because those very issues are the things that have slipped in through the back door and caused me a lot of heartache over the last day or so.

    I tell you this because I want you to know that you are not just choosing the words you type. God is whispering in your ear. Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *