Pen in hand, I asked my counselor what I could do to help solve my most recent personal situations. “I mean, how can I fix them?”
“You can’t,” she said.
My shoulders dropped as I sighed out, “Oh.”
“You can only control yourself. No one else.”
I didn’t like this answer. After asking if there were books I could read or podcasts to teach me this new way of thinking (ugh), she said she’d email me resources.
Yes, I’ll forever be the perpetual student, ready to learn so I can instruct anyone willing to listen. But it seemed in this situation, my audience was shrinking to one.
This wise woman was right. I can’t control anyone but myself.
I had a three-point plan ready to implement for each of my current situations, because that’s how my mind thinks.
Create a plan. Check.
Follow said plan. Check.
Smile after completion. Ah.
See. Easy. Right?
And wouldn’t you know that later that week I stumbled upon a Bible verse that jumped out and said, “See! She was right!” OK, the Bible didn’t say that, but it only confirmed that there were heavy reigns I needed to drop. In case you haven’t picked up an NLT version of the Old Testament and recently read where the fall of man began in Genesis 3:16b, meditate on this,
“And you will desire to control your husband…”
What? Oh, man, ladies. We have been cursed!
I mean, I knew we were cursed with the whole childbearing thing, but this is and has been a lifelong struggle of mine. I not only want to control my spouse, but also my kids, and their friends and, let’s be honest, the guy who cut me off at the light when clearly, I had the right of way!
I. Have. Control. Issues.
Don’t we all?
Yet, I’ve fallen for the biggest trap! I can’t control anyone but myself and my dumb thoughts. And even then, how much power over my life do I really think I have? I’m so focused on my issues, my solutions, and my happiness, that I’ve lost sight of what really matters in life. Lean in a tad and listen while I share the biggest stress reliever you could ever imagine.
Life isn’t about us. It’s about Him.
This seems odd at first, but if we dig deep and allow ourselves to jump out of our mental mess, we’d see something far more glorious. The Controller of the Cosmos has a simpler plan when we listen closely to His whisper, “Dabney, make space for Me and I promise I’ll help guide you through this messy situation you’re struggling with.”
That desire to rule, teach, and make sure everyone follows each bullet point…it’s in me. I don’t think it’s all wrong, after all we were made in the image of Christ, but I do think I need to tame these intense tendencies and probably some Wiser Counsel. Let’s face it, so far all my controlling has done is wrapped me so tight that eventually I lose it. And nobody wants to see someone’s five-foot-Napoléon Syndrome come out.
It’s ugly, people.
So these last few weeks I’ve been trying to make changes. And what better way to stay committed than to publicly write about my weaknesses, you know, because smattering them along this screen for the world to read seems to be a thing I like to do. Nonetheless, this keeps me dedicated. My new method looks like this. When I see someone, say an adult family member, start to make what I consider to be a poor choice, all I can do is pray.
If that someone is between the ages of 10-17, I can gently train my child back to the truth (after running laps around the house, forfeiting their electronic devices, etc.), but I can’t force my older kids to follow a list of rules their whole life, because then they wouldn’t learn the consequences of making those painful decisions. Like the time our 13-year-old and his buddy were camping in our shed and he called the cops at 1:00 am after they heard scratching and tapping on the door. Their loud screams didn’t deter his giggling older sister and her friends, until the three squad cars pulled up. Lessons were learned for sure that day, one of which required my face to stay planted each morning in full surrender mode, as I prayed for guidance, and my husband administered some wisdom. They’re going to mess up sometime and I’d rather them fall and bloody their knees while they’re at home than when they are no longer under our roof. I want to be the mom they feel safe to ask for advice. Not the mom they’re afraid of because she’ll grow horns and a tail if they’ve botched her instructions…again.
As far as being a wife, well, I love my husband with all of my heart. But my job is to respect and encourage and pray for my faith-filled man. He’s wearing a great deal of pressure on his shoulders lately now that he's started his own company. So I may feel like I have the perfect solution for his business, when really this new gig needs to be his. And his late-night eating habits where he runs to Taco Bell for the Nachos Bell Grande…need to be his. And his sleeping habits…you got it. All his. Just because I wake at 5:30 am, doesn’t mean he has to, too.
The best news is that God’s got the plan. I don’t. I love how Job 42:2 reminds us with,
“I know that You can do all things and that no plan of Yours can be thwarted” (italics mine).
If God’s got the plan, then why are we trying to tweak it?
If any man knew who was in control, it was Job. This guy endured crazy mental and physical torment and still turned out pretty good. What did Job eventually do? I’m glad you asked, because in verse 42:10 he explains the secret:
“After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before” (italics mine).
How about you?
How do you make space for God? Do you struggle with releasing control like I do? Or maybe you are in full surrender mode and you could use some prayer right now, even if it’s an unspoken request. I keep a list in the back of my journal to pray for such things. If you comment, I’ll add you.
Sweet friend, we have more power on our knees than we ever will with any three-point plan. Ultimately, the best thing we can do is listen for His whisper, “Make space for Me, and watch what I can do.”