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Woman Idolizes Her Parents' Approval

In his book Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller writes, "Idols generate false beliefs such as 'If I cannot achieve X, then my life won't be valid' or, 'Since I have lost or failed at Y, now I can never be happy or forgiven.'" Then he illustrates this point with the following illustration:

A young woman named Mary was an accomplished musician who once attended my church. For many years she had battled mental illness and had checked in and out of psychiatric institutions. She gave me permission as her pastor to speak to her therapist …. "Mary virtually worships her parents' approval of her," her counselor told me, "and they always wanted her to be a world-class artist. She is quite good, but she's never reached the top of her profession, and she cannot live with the idea that she has disappointed her parents."
Medications helped to manage her depression, but they could not get to the root of it. Her problem was a false belief, driven by an idol. She told herself, "If I cannot be a well-known violinist, I have let down my parents, and my life is a failure." She was distressed and guilty enough to die. When Mary began to believe the gospel, that she was saved by grace, not by musicianship, and that, "though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord shall take me in" (Psalm 27:10), she began to get relief from her idolatrous need for her parents' approval. In time her depression and anxiety began to lift, and she was able to reenter her life and musical career.

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