“Why can’t everyone just do it the way I told them?” my mother voice carried through the house in a childish tirade.
I couldn’t help myself. Some days the need to control everyone and everything comes flooding back, again.
I confess that it still feels good when everything goes according to plan. Well, when everything goes according to my plans. Perfectly and safely…though I keep having trouble with both of these words.
Maybe you, too, from time to time crave the comforts of control? Maybe you recognize these signs?
- Do you have expectations that no one seems to meet?
- Do you find yourself angry if things don’t go according to those expectations?
- Do you feel useful if your hands are in everything?
- Do people rely too heavily on you and if you’re not there, things begin to fall apart?
- Do you, then, resent that pressure because no one will help you do everything?
- Do you find that pressure restricting and binding the joy in your life?
If so, then welcome to my humble past living under this label: control freak.
And here is why I’m writing.
It suddenly feels as though the world has gone mad and no one is in control. From ISIS to elections, to politically corrupt leaders, to adult children and their mother, to broken treadmills, to escalating crime and stupid sex offenders, to middle-age growing pains, and to a great deal of anger now running rampant in this mad and opinionated world…I find myself longing again for some clue that life is under control.
In fact, it feels like I don’t belong here and I feel drawn once again to that old friend, control.
In the past, I used control to meet my perfect expectations, or maybe your perfect expectations, and sometimes, I even justified that I needed to work hard to meet God’s perfect expectations.
Finally, I faced the truth that perfection is a problem because it simply doesn’t exist in a place, a person, or a power other than God. All I could see were imperfections in and around me. It seemed cruel that a perfect God would hold up a bar that was impossible to reach until I opened my eyes and realized I was holding the bar.
Other times I controlled because of fear that came under the names of CHANGE or TRUST.
Whenever those words came knocking, I cringed. I prefer safety. But technology and a new global world assure us that change is here to stay. And loving requires trusting and trusting requires risk. Especially with these kids I’m raising or have already raised. They seem bent on growing up, moving on, and overall, leaving me behind while building their own lives.
I think it was all an illusion, or simply just a delusion-this idea that I was ever in control in the first place. It was the hunger for perfection or safety gone bad, gone crazy, and always, gone with the wind though I found myself frantically searching for it.
I was never made to control, and again the only way to survive is to learn to let go, and finally, just leave it.
But I confess that it sometimes feels like I’m drowning in these new and uncertain places. I know He will be with me. It just doesn’t always feel safe when I swallow those mouthfuls of change as the rivers of life sweep over me.
At these moments, it’s so very hard to see Him at all.
And I confess the fear of falling, failing, or losing is something that still frightens me, too. I know He calls me His daughter because of His love and His grace, not because of anything I do.
Failing, or feeling like I’m failing, doesn’t make me a failure. Failure only comes when I quit.
Mostly, I confess that growing up and growing old makes the world feel very wrong and very mad. I know He will keep me in the fires of trouble but when all I can see and smell is the smoke, I sometimes still wonder if He will be true to His Word?
Isn’t that really the great lie of control?
It’s the lie that the world needs me to keep it spinning, to keep it working, and to keep it running. It’s the lie that people and things were made to meet my expectations. It’s a lie that these expectations must be met to ensure my happiness when in reality these very same expectations bind, and steal, and destroy the wonder needed to grow any such happiness anyway.
But mostly, it’s the lie that, ultimately, God won’t come through in the end with His beautifully promised rescue.
Yes, it sometimes feels as though the world has gone mad. We are madly trying to spin it, weave it, hold it, win it, or live free of it. And the conflict, the tension, and the unsettling feelings are the reminders that we were never made to hold it in our finite hands.
Truth is we were created for His glory, called by His name, and meant to live a life of freedom according to His purposes and expectations in His hands of infinite space, infinite time, and infinite love.
When you feel like you don’t belong here anymore, I think it’s because we don’t.
And maybe this mad, crazy world is pushing you to the place you need to be. The only place where love, and truth, and justice meet. A place where you must live perfectly safe and forever free of the need to control: at the foot of a cross.
And when you close your eyes and push through those feelings of failure, doubt, or fear with your small, surrender of faith at the foot of a cross, He meets you with great resurrection power and resurrection strength and you are reminded again of the truth that He always comes through with a beautifully promised rescue.
And so you learn again to let go, and finally and forever, just leave it.
To let go of perfect, and let go of safe, and yes, even leave behind forever those labels of a very humbled past in exchange for the future glory of redeemed name, and a world that forever rests perfectly and safely in His control.