So, I think I know the answer to this question, but have you ever… Yeah, you never know with you, but I'm guessing I think I know what you're going to say. Have you ever sought your happiness in life from me? What are you doing over there? Your answer should have been immediately.
I was just teasing you. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app.
This is Family Life Today. Before we got married, I really thought, I will never find my happiness through Dave because the Lord Jesus Christ is my King, and I will serve him all the days of my life. And that's where my contentment and my joy and my purpose come from.
That was, for sure, what I was going to do. And then we were married a while, and I started like, Oh, wait, I didn't know he'd do that. Or I didn't know he would be like that. And then I started thinking, Oh, he should change. And I became kind of consumed with you changing. And as a result, I thought, I will be happy when he… And that's when I think it's you and marriage started to become an idol.
I brought that up because I think that's pretty common. We experience that, I think a lot of people do, with different things in their life. And we've got Jen Osmond back in the studio with us today to talk about finding our hope and happiness and things that will never give us that.
It sounds like you're the person that did that, Jen. I can relate to that. Absolutely.
Who can? Oh, for sure. Putting our hope in anybody. I mean, I think maybe as adults, there's a time where we realize we put our hope in our own parents, even, you know, we feel disappointed because that didn't deliver what we thought it would. We put our hope in our spouses, our children, our career. I mean, there's a hundred things that we ask to deliver peace and contentment and joy to us.
And they cannot bear up under the weight of that. So yeah, I can relate to what you said, Anne. I've definitely done that to my husband and my children.
But would you have paused a long time so your husband would sweat about it? I was like, what are you thinking about? Well, Jen's written a book called Cultural Counterfeits Confronting Five Empty Promises of Our Age and How We Were Made for So Much More.
Yesterday, we hit beauty being one of the counterfeits. But today, Dave, what you started with was… Yeah, I mean, one of those five empty promises you mentioned is where we just started marriage and motherhood. And that can sound like, wait, what?
That's wrong? Because isn't this a priority of God? Shouldn't this be something really important? Yeah.
So how does it become an empty promise? Yeah. So anytime I have a conversation, that quick elevator pitch with anybody, what's your book about?
I always start to sweat a little bit because it's like, man, this is kind of complicated. But it's about these five idols of our age. And the first four, for those of us who have this conversation inside the church, the first four are real obvious. It's the obsession with our bodies. It's cheap sex. It's abortion.
It's the LGBTQ spectrum. It's those things where we in the church readily say, yes, those are idols. We should not put our hope in those identities.
But there's this fifth idol that I intentionally address and lump inside this book on purpose because it's the hidden idol, I think, in our churches. And it's that we have elevated the very good and right gifts of marriage and motherhood. And we've put them on a pedestal that they were not meant to be on. We've put on them a weight they were not meant to bear. And so what I'm seeing in our church cultures, what I've seen in my own community is just this desire and this longing for marriage and motherhood, a feeling that I will not be happy. I will not have arrived.
My life won't have value or significance until I am married or until I am a mom. And because those are good gifts designed and ordained and given by God himself, I think they're really sneaky. They sneak around in our churches and we all sort of bow down to them without really knowing it. And that's caused a lot of harm. Do you think it's harmed our single women?
Oh, 100%. I mean, whenever I talk about this particular idol with my single friends, they could sit and talk about it for hours. And they're usually sharing stories, story after story about how they have felt very marginalized, how they can't have a conversation with anybody in the church without them asking, well, are you dating anybody? Anybody promising out there or somebody saying something like, well, you really won't get over selfishness until you get married or motherhood is sanctifying.
If only you could be so sanctified. These things that people say, and I think it's not on purpose. It's very subconscious, but it comes out and it comes out out loud to our single sisters and brothers that you're not quite mature enough. You haven't quite arrived because you haven't received these gifts yet.
They feel marginalized for sure. I think that if we were raising our kids today, I used to say to our kids, when you get married, it'll be blah, blah, blah. But now I think I would say if you get married so that they're not anticipating I have arrived when I do get married because God has a lot of living for them to do before they get married. Well, I mean, did you two, I mean, here's two women that were single at one time. Did both of you or either of you when you were single, was it like, oh, was it this thing? I know you've talked about, you know, Prince Charming and that will bring me happiness. Is that something you both experience?
So I don't, I'm probably not a very good one to answer the question. I shockingly and scandalously married at the age of 20. That was not my plan. I was someone who thought I would never get married, but God said, I have a really different plan for you. So we married when when I was 20. But I have a lot of single friends who I know are walking through this and wrestling with this. But as you went into your marriage at age 20, were you excited like, oh, this is going to help me be complete?
I think that that was there subconsciously, for sure. And I still put that weight on my husband. I still expect perfection from him so that, you know, my life is one of ease and comfort and security. My husband is perfect. I don't do that anymore.
I'm sitting here. I can hear what you're saying. You're not supposed to lie on this podcast, but is that enough for Make Your Marriage an Idol? Yeah, that has definitely happened. I remember specifically in an early year of our marriage, I think it was maybe year two, when I had expected so much of my husband, like, specifically that he would meet my needs relationally, that he would be my everything, my every friend, that I could bear everything with him, and he would be able to walk me through it and talk me through it in just the exact way that I wanted him to. And I remember him saying, Jen, I cannot be all of that for you. I just can't meet all of those needs. And that was a real awakening for me. Okay, you're right. You are one finite man.
I must first go to God above, but also draw on the community that God has given me, the other sisters and brothers that the Lord has provided in my local church, who want to shoulder those things and walk with me through these things. It takes the weight off of our husbands, too, because they weren't meant or made to be able to meet all of our needs. So I think that's really wise. Yeah, but where do you, where does a woman get that? And again, I'm not saying we don't have that as men longing for happiness from our marriage and from our spouse, but I really see it.
I mean, you've talked about it many times. A woman really thinks a man's going to bring it. Is that from the culture or is that in the DNA of being a woman? I think it is in the culture. I think our culture has elevated marriage to the, I mean, if you watch some of the shows on TV and the movies, you can finally be happy and whole when you're married or when you find the right person. It's a little bit like The Bachelorette and the obsession with that.
Like, oh, when you find him. I hate to admit this. I was flipping around just the other night. I turned it on, you know, and I stopped for a minute and Ann's sitting there.
Go ahead, tell them what you said. I was like, are you serious? I was laughing out loud because it's almost comical. And I know there's some listeners that are just mad at me right now because they love this show.
It's their guilty pleasure. But I mean, you're watching this woman think, oh, this guy is all of everything I've ever dreamed of my whole life. And he's responding in this perfect way.
And Ann, you literally said, because I watched like two minutes of it. You go, turn that off. I want to yell like, he's not going to meet your needs. You just snicker at it. But I don't think most people are watching that snickering. They're longing.
That's what I want. And so I'm not saying it's just the culture that causes that to rise up within us. It's part of our sin nature and our longing in our own DNA for happiness. But doesn't the culture sort of promote that and we fall into it?
Yeah, absolutely. In fact, I talk about The Bachelor and The Bachelor in my book in the chapter on cheap sex. So it's kind of a double idol there that you're seeing in that particular show, because we're told him or conditioned, you know, to play the field, to date as much as you can, to have as many sexual encounters and sexual relationships as you can before you settle down. And in that way, we make sex our idol. Like we've got to have as much sexual experiences as we can, because that will be what's fulfilling. That's where we're going to find our identity. But at the same time, and even in the same show, The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, we say, no, actually, after all those sexual encounters, when you'll really arrive is when you have the perfect mate.
And you're going to find him amongst these 25 guys go ahead and spend time with all of them. And you know, you'll find just the right one. And then you will finally be happy. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby and the baby care. It's the fairytale that we all live for. But here's what I think happens is, is God created us and created marriage good and created motherhood good.
These are really good gifts. But what happens is we often take the best gifts and we turn them into our idols. And it happens to all of us. And it happens multiple times a day, you know, with multiple idols as we look to those good gifts, and we expect them to be the best gift. We instead of looking to the giver of the gifts, we look to the gift itself. I remember sharing with a group of women talking about this, like how to know if something's an idol. And I said, I want you to take a second right now.
And our listeners could do this right now. And just gauge, what do you think about the most in a day? You know, what goes through your head all the time? And as I was thinking about that in different phases of my life, sometimes it could be Dave and how he's not measuring up.
I was going to say, it's not a good thing about Dave. It's usually a bad thing. But I'm saying that sometimes it would be worry and worrying. One of the things I worry about a lot, my kids. And as wonderful as that can be that we're moms, becoming a mom and our kids can be an idol if we're finding our worth through them.
Yeah. And what happens is we crush them under the weight of our desire and expectation. We expect them to deliver what only the God of the universe can deliver to our souls. And they feel that and they don't like it.
Not at all. I'm recounting many times I've heard pastor and author Tim Keller talk about idols, how we prop something or somebody up to be the ultimate to deliver. And the way he defines how you know, I'm not looking at an exact quote, so I'm hoping I remember this right. But he said, and it's what you said, it's the ultimate. This person, this relationship is the ultimate. So if I lose this, it's a bad thing. I'm sad. But if it's the ultimate, I'm devastated. I can't live anymore when this thing is removed from my life. That he says is when you know, wow, that's like too important. The only ultimate in your life is Jesus and God. If you lose that is devastating. But if I'm in a relationship and we're dating and she leaves and I can't get out of bed for a month, guess what? You made somebody an idol because they were the determination of your happiness.
If you lose your job and you can't function anymore, it was more important than it needed to be. Talk about that in terms of moms because I've watched women and especially my own wife with our children. It's like children are in some ways the ultimate. It's like it's everything I was made to be and do. Am I right?
Yeah. Well, I talk about in the book and I opened this chapter with an illustration, a story that happened to me a couple of years ago and I was at a baby shower and the host of the baby shower said, motherhood is a woman's highest calling. And that felt like a punch to the gut for me because I was sitting next to a dear friend who has struggled with infertility for years and she longs to be a mom and God has not seen fit yet in his providence to allow her to be a mom. Now we know that God created children and those are good gifts and for some reason in his sovereignty, she has not received that gift yet. But for her to hear motherhood is a woman's highest calling then implicitly said to her, you aren't good enough, you have not achieved this status of Christian womanhood. You're an incomplete woman.
You're a failure. Exactly. That's what she heard. But we, motherhood is a woman's highest calling is something we throw around in church a lot. And that's not the only time I've heard that.
It's sort of a colloquialism that we exchange in church circles. And here's the problem. Then our kids grow up, our kids leave. And I mean, this happened to me. Like, who am I now?
What am I supposed to do? And I think there's a lot of women that go into these empty nest years not remembering who they are. And it's like you have to go back like Jesus, I'm more than just a mom.
What do you have for me? Because there was such a purpose right in front of you. And there's still a purpose. And it's not that we sever or break the relationships with our kids, because our kids do not want to be the center of our worlds when they get out of the house. And so I think it's just really good to go before God and to ask him, Lord, that was a time and a place, but there's more for me.
What is that? Yeah. I mean, marriage and motherhood, I just don't want the listener to hear me wrong. Like, they are good gifts and receive them with joy. Yes.
It's almost like they're good gifts. They're not the ultimate. They are not the ultimate.
Absolutely. And we just do a disservice to ourselves and to each other when we make them ultimate. And so that's the cry of that particular chapter is this can be an idol and it's subtle and it's sneaky in the church.
Let's not make this good gift the ultimate gift. So here's a question. How do you break that? Because as I'm listening to you, I'm thinking of idols in the Old Testament. They destroyed them.
God said, tear them down because they were, you know, made out of brick and asphalt and they bow down to them. That's how we think of idols. Like, I don't have an idol. There's nothing like that in our culture anymore. And we sort of demyth that.
Yes, we do have idols. They don't look like gold statues anymore. They could be your kids.
It could be your marriage. So in the Old Testament, they destroyed them. How do we destroy those? Well, I think it's like yesterday when we talked about the idol of outward beauty and ability, we have to be renewing our minds. We have to go back to the word. This is another area where we are being discipled by social media. I mean, how much of my Instagram feed is beautiful weddings and beautiful babies and beautiful families, right? So these images of perfection and beauty are coming across my screen. Those images aren't wrong, but they're discipling my heart to desire this perfect image that is not necessarily real.
So we've got to go back to the word of God and let us not forget that Jesus was single and let us not forget that Paul was single. Let us not forget that it is better for you to remain— He said, desire this gift, right? Inspired by the Holy Spirit.
He said, I'd rather you be like this. Inspired by the Holy Spirit. He said, it's good for you to be single. So I think we just misplace things that are right in front of us. We want to put our hope in the tangible people right in front of us rather than doing the work of returning to the word of God and remembering what is true about singleness in marriage. And you're saying all this on family life today, which is a ministry. It's all about marriage and family and parenting and children, which I mean, does that feel funny? Or I think what it feels like is it feels righteous. It feels balanced.
It feels like God's heart. Like, yeah, marriage and family matters. It's really important. We are all about marriage and family. We're all about helping people pursue the relationships that matter most, which is what we're talking about, our family. Yet there has to be this balance.
It isn't the ultimate, right? Right. That's David Ann Wilson with Jen Ochsman on family life today.
We'll hear Jen's response in just a minute. But first, you know, talking about cultural counterfeits today, it reminds me there are a lot of counterfeits in our culture when it comes to family. Family life is committed to bringing the clarity of God's word to a confused culture. And we need your help. Would you consider partnering with us financially? All this week as our thanks for your partnership, we want to send you a copy of Carolyn Lacy's book called Extraordinary Hospitality for Ordinary People.
You can take action at familylifetoday.com or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 800 F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, now back to David Ann's conversation with Jen Ochsman and how we can make idols out of really good things like family. Yeah, I was telling my small group the other night that I was coming here for this particular interview and they said, have they read the book? Do they know what the fifth idol in the book is?
They're not going to like that. That was the first one. We're like, oh, we're talking about this. Yes.
And they were kidding, you know, but it was a pretty funny moment. But I think, you know, to have the best marriage and to have the best motherhood or fatherhood experience is to rightly order our loves, to use that from the church father, Augustine, is to have our loves rightly ordered. And we cannot shove humans into the God shaped hole in our heart. We have to place the Lord there, put Jesus on his throne and receive from him the gift of singleness or the gift of marriage, the gift of motherhood or the gift of spiritual motherhood. We see the calling of Christ in the Great Commission to go therefore and make disciples of all nations. We are all called to procreate, but it's not necessarily physically. It might be spiritually.
Those are good gifts. So let's get real practical with your four daughters. They are living in a culture that is screaming at them.
This is where you will find your happiness. As a mom, how are you navigating that? You talked about praying over them, with them, before they go to school in the car. But how else? Like, it's so hard and it's so tricky these days with our kids to try to get them to see this is where you're going to find life, true life.
How are you doing that as a mom? And what can our listeners do? I think we're just trying to have the conversation. I mean, every night at dinner, we don't have dinner together every night, but most nights we do.
We sit around the table and we talk about all kinds of things. By the way, that's unusual. It is. And it's hard. And that's intentional. We fight for it. Way to go. We did too.
Yeah. And we're just, I think, pretty candid. My husband and I both come from long lines of divorce. Both of our parents were divorced more than one time over. And so we know what it is to be raised in a broken home. And we are thrilled that by God's grace, our kids are growing up with married parents. We don't take it for granted. But I do want to constantly be reminding my kids that this is not my identity. I am not, first and foremost, Mark's wife or your mom.
You say this. All the time. And I tell them, you are not, first and foremost, a student or an athlete or a college student or whatever role God has for you right now. That's not who you are.
Who you are is a child created by God in His image to reflect Him to a watching world and to abide in Him and to rest in Him. And so, yes, maybe it sounds cheesy, but I have to preach that to myself. And so I'm saying that to them all the time.
And I just want them to be satisfied in Jesus and resting in Jesus and not putting their hope in a degree or a man or motherhood or any of these other things that are fleeting and temporary, but to be putting their hope in the eternal Christ who made them and died to save them. Do they ever push back like, Mom, I just want to look at my Instagram account? Oh, yes. They do. Yeah, we have.
It's for sure. I mean, the cry of my household is, can I get more screen time? Because we moderate their screen time. And so every night it's like, can I get more?
And sometimes my husband makes them do pushups and then they get more screen time. That's how it works? Yeah, that's one of the ways it works. So work on your beauty to get more screen time. Yeah. Yeah.
I think he just wants to be known to make, it's going to hurt a little bit if I get me more screen time, but I don't know. Don't read more into that than you should. We're kind of just a kooky family is the bottom line. Don't derive any principles for good living from that.
Yeah, to be honest, we are having that conversation of about social media, about images, about their friends' decisions, their own decisions. I mean, I am failing. My husband's failing. They are failing. We have to keep returning to Jesus and ask Him for help. And of course we'll fail. We are living in a battle.
And I think we forget that. I would love for my kids just to be like, yeah, Mom, you're so cool and I'm going to abide and listen to everything you say. But the truth is we're in a battle and we are loving the people in our culture, but we're also fighting against as believers the things that they're saying will bring us happiness. And that's a mantra. We would talk about that all the time at our home, like, where will you find real life? And I think those are great conversations to have with our kids and share how even Dave and I have shared, like, guys, I did not find my happiness through Dad.
As wonderful as he is, he's not the ultimate. I like that you're saying that, Dave. Well, I'm just copying Tim Keller, but I think we have to keep reminding ourselves, not just for our kids, because we say it to our kids. And yet I think if we're not at the point where we can turn on a TV show like we mentioned earlier and laugh when we see lies, if we're leaning in, like, believing that and we don't see that it's a lie, then we don't know the truth. We have to be ingesting truth, which is the Word of God, to remind us, oh, yeah.
Because I mean, think about we talked today about marriage and mothering, and it could be fathering. We have a phrase in our culture that highlights it's an idol. We say, I found the one.
It's like, what does that mean? And we say it like, I found the one, and now I'm going to be happy. And I would just remind us if we're fathers of Christ, there is one, it's a capital O, and his name is Jesus, and he has to be first. You have found the two or the three, whatever you want to call it, but never make your spouse one, make them number two. Whenever they become number one, we call it in our book, Vertical Marriage, when you try to find life horizontally, and that's what we think, I'm going to find it from her or him, you're never going to find it. But when you go vertical and you find it in Christ, then you come back to your marriage, and she or he is number two, now you have an overflow, and that's a marriage that you will find happiness in, because it's not where you derive your happiness. You've already got it. I mean, that's what you're writing. I mean, it's so beautiful to say, oh, it's a counterfeit from our culture, and we have to be able to identify it from the truth of the Word of God. So if anything, I'm hoping a listener goes, I got to get in the Word.
I have not been there. I've been in the weight room doing the pushups, which is great. I applaud you, and I hope you can do 100 like I can do in one setting. I'm working on that right now. I'm kidding. But no, if you're not working out your spiritual life, that's your step.
Absolutely. You've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Jen Oshman on Family Life Today. Her book is called Cultural Counterfeits, confronting five empty promises of our age and how we were made for so much more.
You can get a copy at familylifetoday.com, or you can call 800-358-6329. That's 800 F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. I've got the president of Family Life, David Robbins, with me here in the studio. And David, we're here in the thick of summer, but often when we're in summer, we're thinking about the fall and life change happening and kids getting older, and you're no stranger to all of those elements in your life. Is that right?
Yeah, that's right. I have had a mentor say, you've got 18 summers with your kids. Invest them wisely, which stresses you out in one way, but also makes you intentional. And actually the last two summers, I've had kids entering into sixth grade, and Meg with my daughter and me with my third son have done Passport to Purity. And it's an amazing resource to get the conversations going with your kids around, you know, the talk and all that you grow up into as you become a young adult. And what I love about it is that it makes the parent the hero.
The resource allows you to listen to content that does a lot of the hard work, and then you turn to each other and talk about what you just heard in an amazing way. That's great. You can find out more about Family Life's Passport to Purity at familylifetoday.com. Next week, Dave and Ann Wilson are going to be joined by Jessica Rohn, who managed to find God's goodness in the midst of losing her spouse to cancer. That's next week. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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