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Love Idol - a review of Jennifer Dukes Lee's book

I’ve never considered eating mud. Even as a tot, the thought of slurping up some murky sludge didn’t cross my mind. Some children are much more adept at creating something desirable out of nothing, but no amount of pretending could make me believe dirt and water was actually a chocolate silk pie with clouds of whipped cream. While my neighborhood friends had tea parties with mud pies in the backyard, I stuck to reading and real snacks. So why, as a twenty-something, have I developed a taste for mud masquerading as pie?

Well, it wasn’t intentional. Like many harmful habits, my tastes changed slowly so that the shift was almost undetectable; the repercussions piling up before I was aware of the negative effect. I had apparently become better at make believe because I was consuming dirt and calling it delicious. The dirt was approval and it was burying me alive. I had dug so deep to keep that dirt supply fresh, I was six feet under without even realizing it.

The mud pies I have been forming with such attention to detail – a number on the scale or the number of blog subscribers and social media followers, the shape of my body or the shape of my home – start to disintegrate before they even reach my stomach.  I haven’t been living a life with a thriving mind, body, and soul because I’m ingesting things that have no substance.

Jennifer Dukes Lee elaborates on this destructive mud pie diet in her new book Love Idol.

If we continue to live life for our own approval – in a mad chase for worldly significance – we will never truly live from our approval. Instead of feasting on Living Bread, we will be filling our bellies with metaphorical mud pies.

My metaphorical mud pies have been artificially filling my belly for longer than I’d like to admit. I’ve let the world’s standard of beauty, motherhood, femininity, and success dictate my worth. In so doing, I’ve let my love of approval become an idol. Jennifer shares my destructive love language and chose to write about her journey as one way to break its fluency in her life.

As a former news journalist, Jennifer knows how to engage a reader. She has a story many can relate to and conveys her story with a passion that both encourages and exhorts. Though I’m not proud of recognizing myself in that cycle of striving and approval seeking, I nodded knowingly at many of the situations she described: from the internal pressure to get straight As to trying to cover sleep deprivation and extra weight with make-up and designer clothes.

But, there is hope! Jennifer shares the powerful truth that we are pre-approved by a heavenly Father.

If we are deeply moved by the sight of his love for us, it detaches our hearts from other would-be saviors. We stop trying to redeem ourselves through our pursuits and relationships, because we are already redeemed.

-Timothy Keller

We don’t need to place our worth in the hands of others when God has formed us perfectly with His own mighty fingers. He gives us the key to freedom from our love idol. He prepares a feast so that we don’t have to eat mud pies.

Do you have a love idol that needs to be demolished?

Thanks to Tyndale, we have 3 copies of Love Idol to give away! Comment and enter via the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win a copy of Love Idol.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can join the #loveidol movement on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. (I’ve particularly enjoyed Jennifer’s Instagram feed!)

Thanks to Tyndale for providing the review and giveaway copies of Love Idol. 

32 Comments

  1. My love idol would be trying to please others while looking good in my eyes beside other people. It is a game of comparison that I would really like to stop playing. It leads to mixed emotions, like being happy and jealous at the same time. I have to remember that we are each fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image and that our Heavenly Father does not compare his children one with another.

  2. Brittany Whitley says:

    Wow, this is looks like a great read and a challenging one, too. My love idol would be perfection mixed with approval. I tend to measure myself against an impossible standard and then worry about people being angry with me when I fail. Often, I am too quick to forget I will never be perfect but there is someone who already is and forever will be (Christ).

  3. Wow, this looks like a very poignant and challenging read. Approval being something I idolise so much. Thanks for sharing! Elspeth

  4. I’ve always struggled with self-confidence and worry constantly about what other people think me. If I have a conversation with a friend that comes across the wrong way, I will mull over it for days and think of every possible alternative wording I could have used, even if the conversation itself was insignificant. I’ve always been a straight A student because I worry that anything less would be proof that I am sub-par to everyone else.

    The last few years have been the most difficult, as I have made the transition from homeschooling to commuting to my state university. The culture is so different and I constantly make “mistakes” in my conversation. More importantly, my intentions to be a strong witness for the Lord are wiped out because I feel insufficient and inferior. I feel like Moses when he said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex 3:11)

    Yet even as I have these negative thoughts, God has been showing me that I am significant to Him, and I can do the work that He has set out for me. Bit by bit, He is helping me defeat this idol of loving other’s approval, and replacing it with a love for His approval. I can “do all things all things through Him who strengthens me!” (Phil 4:13)

    P.S. Sorry for the long comment, this article just echoed a lot of thoughts I’ve been having recently!

    1. Hannah, I am so glad this post resonated with you. Even more so, I hope you read Love Idol!

      Jennifer actually talks a lot about good grades because that is something she struggled with and now her daughter Anna struggles with getting less than an A, too. It was a note from a grade school teacher scrawled across an A- paper that set the whole Love Idol journey in motion for her.

      I love how God is speaking to you in the midst of this struggle. God is so full of grace and we need to start extending that same grace to ourselves. I’d be the first to admit I don’t do that as often as I should.

      1. Amen, God is full of grace! Looking forward to reading Love Idol in the near future 🙂

  5. Oh goodness, I definitely resonate with approval as being a love idol. One person’s opinion can change my whole outlook because I’m not confident about who I am. Would love a chance to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. Oh Kalyn, I can so relate to this – how one comment or look can change my whole day. Yikes – prayers for you and me both in this.

  6. I have an overwhelming desire to “get things done”. The list of things is ever changing but the goal is the same. When I lay down in bed at night I want to have accomplished a lot in my day. This makes sitting still, reading and meditating on God’s Word really hard for me. As I type this I can see that my battle is a pride issue. I’m worried more about what I have done than what God has done through me in a given day.

    1. Having a baby made me all too aware of my struggle with the exact same thing – I am a doer and derive a lot of value from my ability to get things done. Pride certainly masks itself in so many good things.

  7. My idol would be that I care too much how people perceive me. I can leave a gathering and be way too hard on myself on what I said or did.

  8. Sounds like a great book!

  9. I’d love a copy of this book!!! My family and I just went through a time of seeking the Lord to show us our idols and to demolish them…He is so faithful to help us when we ask!!

  10. Jada Smith says:

    I have to watch my time management and make sure computer time doesn’t take over! But, I did have trouble with the Pinterest copy/paste for the raffle copter. I pinned it a bunch but couldn’t get it to ever paste! 🙂

    1. And I hit post before I was finished 🙂 Anyways, I’ve definitely always struggled with the need to feel like others approve of me. Thank you so much for this post and the opportunity to read this book!

  11. I’ve always struggled to be approved by everyone. When I sense that I’m not witty or fashionable enough to keep someone’s interest or gain a complement, I feel discouraged and as though no one cares for me. True, this scenario is not nearly so frequent as it once was in my life, but I still find myself, all too often, seeking to ‘measure up’ to other peoples standards and gain their compliments–instead of seeking God’s standards and approval.

    1. It’s a difficult habit to break, Micaela. I’m so thankful we have God’s love and grace to fall back on when we struggle.

  12. Katherine Dyess says:

    My idol has always been the approval of my parents. I often do or won’t do something based on the opinions I’ve received from them. I know God is working in me to bring the reality of “take up your cross and follow me” to a whole new understanding. Praise God He’ll never leave us or forsake us and gives us the encouragement and courage we need to step out of the boat and onto the waves!

  13. Thank you for the great review and giveaway. I would love to read this book!

    My love idol would be wanting to be accepted for who I am. I don’t always feel that I need people to like me to feel loved, but I do want people to accept me the way I am and understand me. I’m learning, though, that all that really matters is what my Heavenly Father thinks of me. He loves me unconditionally!

  14. Loved the review. I too struggle with what others think of me, I try to shrink back lots of times to hide instead of getting out there and just doing what God wants me to do. The fear of others stops me.

    1. Your comment made me think of 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” I pray that we both cling to that promise!

  15. Oh Emily … I am moved by your words and your humility. You are loved and treasured and preapproved — and your words flow supernaturally out of that God-Space. Thank you for taking the time to craft such a beautiful review. And thank you to Tyndale for offering three books to giveaway!

    1. Thanks for popping in here, Jennifer! The message from Love Idol will stay with me and I’ve already seen God working in my heart, tearing down those love idols.

  16. My love idol that I struggle with is the need to prove myself to others and be accepted by them, rather than focusing on what God thinks of me.

    1. It’s so easy to be sidetracked by what others think instead of focusing on God’s opinion! I’m always so much happier when I succeed in shifting my focus.

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