Control. It’s one of life’s greatest ironies, isn’t it?
There are a lot of different reasons we seek control, including:
- Unwillingness to submit to God’s plan
The more we try to control something or someone, the more we realize how little control we actually have.
Then out of pride, anger, frustration, and/or fear we double our efforts—until we’ve either severely damaged that which we tried to keep or lose it all together.
Let me illustrate what I mean.
Have you ever played Watermelon Football? Oh, goodness! It’s great fun!
If you’ve never played, let me explain. After you determine your goal lines in the water close to the lake shore, you heavily grease a seeded watermelon (your football) with Crisco and place it in the water. Watermelons naturally float and when they’re coated with Crisco and wet, they’re almost impossible to handle. The trick is, you have to hold it firmly but gently. Cradling it snugly but with care. The moment you squeeze it, it pops right out of your arms into the possession of your opponent. As you can imagine, finding that balance during the intensity of the game is challenging! You want to keep the watermelon safe and secure while not exerting too much pressure on it—all while the other team is coming after you! No easy task.
The same in true in our life, isn’t it?
It doesn’t matter if we’re trying to control a situation, relationship, person, project, business, ministry, or our own lives. There’s a fine line between keeping someone or something safe, secure, and protected and exerting too much stress and pressure on that someone or something until that person looks to break free or that something falls apart.
What’s that line?
Obediently trusting God.
How do we identify it?
By asking ourselves a few pointed questions:
- Am I walking in obedience in this situation, relationship, etc?
- Am I trusting God to fulfill His purpose here?
- Am I submitting to His will or trying to force my own? (That’s my tell-tale question)
Friend, control is an area I’m realizing I need some growth in—okay, a lot of growth in.
I like to have control. To be in control. Especially when it involves something I’ve invested heavily in. Poured much of myself into. Devoted a lot of my time to. Sacrificed greatly for. However, as I talk to God about my control issues and look back on my life, He’s revealing those aren’t the main reasons why I seek control. In fact, they’re a distraction from the real reasons I grasp for control:
- I’m feeling out of control internally
- Lack of trust in God and His plan (We’ll chat about this next time)
Can you relate?
I’m seeing more and more, the times I’m most desperate to control everything around me are the times I feel the most out of control internally.
When I feel afraid, uncertain, anxious, overwhelmed, confused by life, schedules, and external circumstances I have no control over, I begin to feel out of control internally. Then I project my internal stress, pain, uncertainty, confusion, etc. On the world around me. I look for something I can control externally—how clean my house is, my boys’ behavior, my eating habits, my fitness, my____________. Yes, “my.” I become selfish. Desperate for order.
Friend, I’m learning the desire for control is closely linked to anxiety and its underlying fears.
Fear of the unknown. The future. Failure. Success. Harm. Death. Fear of____________.
I’m discovering I tend to I view the disorder outside me as a reflection of the chaos going on inside. And I’m afraid my hot mess will be exposed—making me vulnerable. So, I work to make everything around me look pristine to hide that inside, I’m a wreck! I pretend everything is perfect and tidy to distract myself from the bigger hurts, confusion, unbelief, etc. that’s raging inside. Why? Because it’s easier to deal with the external mess than the internal disaster. Because the external provides the opportunity to blame someone else for my emotional distress while the internal is on me and I’m accountable for my actions and reactions. The problem is, when I focus on the external, the internal grows and builds like steam in a pressure cooker.
Are you nodding? Saying, “Yup—I get that. I. Am. The. Same. Way.”?
Beloved, it doesn’t have to be this way.
We can give our burdens to Jesus and trust Him to guide us through them because, let’s face it, He’s the only One who can. He Who knows the beginning from the end also knows every step in-between. We are firmly held in His grasp. Safe. Protected. Nothing can snatch us from His hand. We don’t have to be in control. He already is!
Everyday I pray: “I choose to trust you…(I fill in what “it” is)…help me in my unbelief.”
Some days I pray this a few times. Other days I say it dozens of times. And each time I open my hands, palms up, to symbolize letting go. Releasing my grasp on my control and handing “it” over. Then I confess mu unbelief and rebuke Satan’s lies for the need to control that which I’m not meant to control.
Some days I’m more victorious than others. But anchoring in His Word and praying through verses about trusting God is helping me make great strides.
It can for you too.
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2 thoughts on “The Irony of Control (part 1)”
Seriuosly, if you ever have the chance, play. It is hilarious and fun!
But yes, getting the balance right is critical. Without it we can potentailly destroy what we love and are striving for.
Control is an ongoing thing for me too. So glad God is patient…
This is a great post, Cheyenne! Control is definitely an ongoing struggle for me. I haven’t heard of watermelon football, but I can picture it and that’s a great example of the need to get the balance right.