Hi, my name is Shelly, and I am a control freak.
I can usually hide my controlling tendencies under the disguise of being concerned. It's an easy thing to do, and quite frankly a natural tendency for modern life today. But, none-the-less, it's sinful.
And messed-up. And crazy. And extremely exhausting.
Whatever you want to call it, I'm calling a truce, because honestly I'm tired.
God has been slowly, patiently and graciously unveiling to me how much of a control freak I am and in the process revealing this truth: I am actually not in control. He is.
I'm grateful for the slow process because there was so much that had to be undone I'm afraid my little sad-self would not have survived the peeling away. Sanctification hurts. When you are faced with the ugly truth of who you are... Let's just say I'm thankful God gives abundant grace.
Believing you're in control is an illusion the enemy uses as a distraction. When you are distracted you are useless and ineffective. In my personal experience when you are desperate to hold on to control, you are usually spinning out of it.
In other words, you're a hot mess.
So, I've been making a list a things I'm not in control of and things that I am. It's sort of a bullet point of "know your actual place" for dummies. Now, I'm not calling anyone else but me dumb, so don't go there. But maybe you'll see yourself in some of these and we can share one another's burdens and lift each other up.
I tried to narrow the vast valley down to three that I think are the most relevant for me. Feel free to share and add your own.
Get ready. Here they come!
* I am not in control of my children's decisions.
I can guide, lead and direct. I can set boundaries and rules. I can issue consequences and administer discipline. But I cannot (no matter how much I'd like to) force them to make decisions the way I want them to.
This one hurts bad. I have typed and erased many words here that probably belong in a different blog. Please know this: Your kids, the great things they do, it's awesome, and you might can take some of the credit for showing them the way, but ultimately compliance is down to them. Just ask any parent of multiple children who have raised them all the exact same way and each child is wildly different. It's crazy. Actually it's normal. We are created uniquely and have our own individual personalities and tendencies. (Big sigh because, really, this is a whole-nuther blog). And this is true for their not-so-great decisions as well. You can (and will because that's the way we roll) take some responsibility for their actions, but ultimately the choice is once again down to them. That's suppose to be freeing and not frightening. I understand my fellow control-freaks may be screaming at me or breathing into a bag. Believe me. I get it. Queen-Controller, speaking honestly. You can shape your child (see Deuteronomy 6 as your guide post), and I also believe in Proverbs 22:6, but that little lovey or booger or knuckle-head - take your pick - has to eventually decide which way they will go.
* I am not in control of other people.
I can only control how I react and respond to them. Blah. This is the hard part because controlling my response and my words sounds so easy and so very "Christian." But in actuality, when someone is mean, I want to be mean back. When someone is unreasonable, I want to write them off. When someone rejects me, I want to shrug it off and say, " Well, I reject you too!" Yeah.
Hear it again. You are only in control of HOW YOU RESPOND. Again I say, "Blah!" People are going to be people. They are going to do or say things that hurt. Sometimes, without even realizing it. Other times.... well, that's going to happen too. That short text, that telling look, those words spoken quickly and harshly. All of those hurtful things that will happen, you cannot control. But you get to chose how you respond. Hear me here. You have a choice. I hope that is freeing to someone. You get to choose what you say, or don't say, back. That choice will be the difference maker in your life and their's as well. Choose wisely.
*I am not always in control of my circumstances.
I preface this with "always" because they are some things we can control just by not going there or doing that. We can save a whole lot of hurt just by using some common sense. What I am referring to are those things that are completely out of our control.
Flat tire on the way to school drop-off - been there done that.
Flat tire on the way home from school pick-up - been there done that.
Lock keys in vechicle on way home from school - also, been there done that.
Sudden loss - job, loved one, friendship, health; the list could go on forever. It was sudden and you were not expecting it - raise your hand if you've been there done that.
These types of things take us completely by surprise because they are life circumstances we were not expecting. They are moments in time you were unprepared for. I will never forget the loss of my first real job. How painful it was, and how completely unprepared I was. I will never forget the sense of overwhelming loss from the phone call telling about the death of loved one. They were on the mend and things were looking up. Then just as quickly, so unfairly, they were gone. And I still have deep emotions over the sudden harsh realization I felt when I knew that a particular relationship was not going to mend. We are Christian brothers and sisters for crying out loud! This type of thing should not be! But it does, and it did.
These are moments that stand out in everyone's lives. These are things we have no control over and to the person who maintains some semblance of sanity by attempting to always be in control, this can send you over the edge.
There will be circumstances we have NO CONTROL over. But we do have one we can turn to.
I don't always do this. In fact, I stink at it a lot of the time, but I do know that when I have had a difficulty and made the choice to turn to God, he brought a levity to my circumstance that I was certain was impossible. He was the anchor that I wrapped both arms around and held on to tightly. I held on to him and he held me together. The more I walk this way, the more I discover, he always is the one that is holding me together.
So, what's a controller to do then?
We must practice self-awareness. Answer these questions with me:
Do you have specific people or situations that are a constant source of conflict?
Is there an area in your life that you are always trying to manipulate?
Is anything or anybody coming to your mind right now??
We must recognize these for what they are; control strongholds.
We must remember the one thing we can control - our response.
We must realize that we are not in control - God is.
Take a deep breath and turn your controlling-self over to the one who controls it all. He is in control after all. What you're hanging on to is just an illusion. In other words, it's nothing! Turn control back over to God, grab on tight to him, and don't let go! I promise you the one who knows everything about you, knows how to hold you all together.
Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them. You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. LORD, even before I say a word, you already know it. You are all around me - in front and in back - and have put your hand on me. Your knowledge is amazing to me; it is more than I can understand. Psalm 139: 1-6
While you digest these words, here's some fun control-freak images! Enjoy!