Why is control such an ugly word? Typically when you think of a controlling person you think of a type A personality: a driver of projects as well as of people. But I challenge that assumption. I have friends who are far from type A and still embrace an aspect of the quality. Their flavor of control is in not allowing others to exert control over them, which they accomplish with passive-aggressive techniques like avoidance. Some resort to outright rebellion if they deem it necessary. My point is simply that all mortals embrace some tick mark on the control continuum. We are yin and yank down here.
I can’t speak for everyone but I think it would be safe to say that for many of us type A personalities, a sense of control makes us feel safe. Even if it is an illusion, there is a comfort in having a plan. Oh sure, we will tell you that the plan can change at anytime, but most of the time we also think we have control over what kind of changes the plan can make. That would certainly describe me. Looking back I would have to say I was someone who had very little tolerance for unplanned changes to the plan.
In the midst of a season of transition from Redding (presumably back to the east coast), my own carefully laid plans started to undergo an increasing number of adjustments. At first, I just thought it was novel, and reveled in my ability to roll. As it continued I found myself asking God, “Say, who authorized all of these changes anyway?” As they continued their attack (an accurate descriptor from my POV), I started to feel angry. I rediscovered a whole new color palette in my vocabulary. I questioned my salvation. But it wasn’t until I found myself wondering out loud if I could really commit to a life of following Jesus, that I realized something in my heart was fundamentally broken, and this was His way of showing me.
When I brought it before God, I was confronted with the truth of what I actually believed - that I had a heavenly Father that I could accept as wild, unpredictable, exciting and fierce...but not actually safe. I did not feel safe with God. I did not feel safe with the idea of letting God lead. And I especially did not feel safe when God introduced unplanned elements into the plan. In fairness, I had been doing alright with the illusion of my control. I couldn’t tell you that things always worked out as I had planned - in fact the most important things rarely did. But I carved out a good life around those disappointments and decided that I could be happy enough with the successes I could manipulate.
Now God was inviting me out to bigger risk. The kind of dreams that were way beyond my reach. But as I contemplated my transition I was still playing it safe. I wanted to bunt and run - He wanted me to swing for the fence. When I refused to swing, He struck me out and sent me to the bench to await another turn at bat. …isn’t that just like a coach?
As I near the end of my transition I am gratified for His relentless focus on process. I have learned to embrace that quickly at least. When the ground under me gets really shaky, and I find myself clamoring for control, I meditate on verses describing His faithfulness, His protection and His covering. He is a God who is always inviting us higher and it seems like an appropriate metaphor to think of our journey with Him as a trip up a mountain. I might be the one in the driver’s seat but He is the one laying out the road in front of me - meter by meter. And with each new twist or turn in the road I make every effort to stop white-knuckling the wheel. And I’m getting there…at least I’ve relaxed my grip. Soon I’ll be able to hold on loosely. Secretly though, I’m pushing for the day when I can take both of my hands off the wheel, stick them through the sunroof, and steer with my knees.
by Carrie Householder
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