I didn’t think I had control issues until I wrote this post. Here’s how I found out otherwise.
The Lead In
Over time I’ve learned that I think more clearly when I write. I’m not sure what it is about writing that makes this true. Maybe it’s the quiet of the morning when I normally write, or it could just be the process of putting thoughts on paper. Perhaps it’s something else entirely. It doesn’t really matter. What I do know is that I am the closest to my thoughts and they are the clearest and the loudest when I write.
The same can be said about my closeness to God. As I listen to my thoughts and my heart, as I write these posts to you and for you, I am in a position to hear what God wants to say to me. It’s just one of those times when I can hear him the best.
I learn so much about myself when I write. It’s actually pretty scary.
So there I was, humming along, writing this other post. Maybe I’ll finish it one day but the gist of it was about how I feel like I have a lack of faith. I was talking about how I want to have a backup plan for everything and how, in desiring such, I was closing off my ability to have faith. Faith in myself, faith in others, and ultimately, faith in God.
As I thought about this, I started wondering why. Why do I lack faith? What is it about my life that hinders me from having the faith I see others have?
And then it hit me. I do have some measure of faith. I do have belief. I do trust. But only when I can control it.
Here’s an excerpt from the post I was writing. I was talking about where I see my lack of faith show up in my life. This is the moment when I realized what was really going on.
I see it in my relationship with God when I won’t give over to Him every part of my life. I trust Him mostly, but there are probably still some areas where I’m lacking in my faith or that I just want to control.
Holy cow that’s it. The issue is control. Why do I want backup plans? Because I want to be able to control the outcomes of everything. I want to know and be prepared for every situation.
What I learned in that moment, what God taught me, was that the places where I lack faith are the places where I don’t want to give up control.
That one hurt me just a little bit deeper than normal. I had no idea I even had control issues. I mean, I’m so chill, right? I wanted to fight back but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that God was right and I couldn’t deny it.
Want some examples?
Lack of Faith in Myself
The “what if’s” of life lead me to have a lack of faith in myself.
- “What if I’m wrong?”
- “What if you don’t like me?”
- “What if I do this thing and it sucks?”
- “What if I fail?”
I don’t trust myself with things I don’t know and if I don’t know something I don’t have any control over it. My tendency is to fear and not let myself try new things because I can’t control them. So I make backup plans in an effort to control my situations and surroundings.
Lack of Faith in Others
I have things at work that I could give away to other people (should give away to other people) but I don’t want to because I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t do it my way and I really like my way. I know all the nuances and things to look out for.
So I end up keeping all this extra stuff that, at the end of the day, I’m sure someone else could do just as well or better than me. This leads me to just piling on extra work because I’m scared of what me not having control over that thing would mean (for that thing and for me). That also would mean that I would need to find new things to do or take on new responsibilities. That’s new territory and really scary for me.
Lack of Faith in God
I am constantly finding areas of my life where I haven’t completely given over my trust to God. If I don’t have control of those areas of my life, who is going to be watching out for them, making sure that I don’t mess them up? Who’s going to be there to catch me when I fail?
So I hold on to control. I wrap a tight fist around these areas and I don’t let go. I make backup plans and contingencies. I labor and spin and spend a superfluous amount of effort to hold tight to control.
A Tale of Mythic Proportions
Here’s the thing about all of this: Control is a myth.
We are all living out of control. When I think of someone who is “out of control” I think of someone with no boundaries, who is acting all out of sorts. Do you have a picture in your head of what someone who is out of control looks like? Me too … and I don’t picture myself. To me, I am a model of control. You probably don’t have an image of yourself in your mind either. But it’s true. We are all living out of control.
We can’t really know for sure from one day to the next what will happen in our lives. Tomorrow is a fickle mistress. We don’t really know what she will bring.
- Tomorrow you might lose your job … or you might get a new one.
- Tomorrow you might have a conversation with someone that changes the direction of your entire life … or you could just stay inside all day binge watching TV and eating potato chips.
- Tomorrow you might break your leg … or you might get in a boat and, for the first time in your life, sit in awe as you feel the breeze over the water hit your face.
Here is what the Bible says about tomorrow:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
– Matthew 6:34 NIV
No matter how hard we try we can never really and truly be in control. Oh, it feels better to think that we can, but we can’t.
That’s not to say that we should be reckless. I also don’t mean it to sound like we shouldn’t make plans or attempt to be intentional with our lives.
We definitely should make plans. We absolutely should be intentional and not let ourselves be swept away by whatever life brings our way. I mean, life will bring some crazy stuff your way if you let it.
But faith is an exercise in losing control. It’s giving up control to someone or something else.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
– Hebrews 11:1 KJV
The idea of giving up control is scary. It means I lose control. But when I give that up to Someone who has my best interest at heart, whose plans are better than mine, who loves me with an everlasting love, then I also lose the weight of fear, doubt, and worry. In doing so I am lighter, more agile, and better able to live the life I am meant to live. I’ve removed the self-imposed burdens that those things carry with them and laid them down as well.
If I get to live a better, more fulfilling life by losing control, then I’m all in.
I imagine we all could do with a little less control, no?