I’m in control…or am I?

Today I was listening to throwback music, the song “Control” by Janet Jackson was playing, and I never had really paid attention to the lyrics before although I may know every word. Ha-ha!

In the chorus, she sings, “I’m in control…” and at the end, she says, “Don’t make me lose it!” Basically, Janet Jackson is proclaiming that she is taking control in her life and no longer listening to those who try to manage it.

I thought about how as a mom, I try to strongly persuade my children in one direction or another. Or as a wife, wanting to influence my husband’s needs or wants or how he should feel or not feel. In the relationship with other family and friends, I want them to do or not do based on what I need in that moment.

Often I find myself thinking I’m in control and I am not at all. Control is really selfish. I want my needs met over anyone else’s. To control someone, one uses manipulation, anger, and/or guilt.

Control is defined as the power to influence or direct people’s behavior, as a verb, it is to determine the behavior or supervise the running of. People have control issues for many different reasons: anxiety, traumatic experiences, and fears of abandonment, low self-esteem, fear of failure and perfectionism. Control is typically a reaction to the fear of losing control.

A control freak adds a whole new meaning to control.

A freak is defined as a person, animal or plant that is abnormal or deformed; monstrosity… a person who is obsessed with something. A Control Freak is a person who is obsessed with dominating or commanding others to the point where they stifle the ability of the other to flourish or grow on their own.

Think about this for a moment…. I had to allow this term to soak into my brain. Please read it again…A Control Freak is a person who is obsessed with dominating or commanding others to the point where they stifle the ability of the other to flourish or grow on their own.

I asked myself, “Do I want to stifle the ability of the people I love to flourish or grow on their own?” I think this is exactly what Jesus is talking about in Romans 14:13,

“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in a way of a brother.”

The Pharisees were guilty of being control freaks, in Matthew 23:4, Jesus says, “They (Pharisees) tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.”

Read Matthew 23 in its entirety, Jesus is calling the Pharisees out, “Woe to you!” He exclaims line after line. As I read it, I asked myself, “Am I guilty?” Do I make others twice as much a child of hell as myself? (Matthew 23:15) Jesus is very concerned and He sits down with the disciples later in Matthew 24:4-5 to tell them,

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray.  For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.

I can’t make anyone believe as I do or value what I value or love what I love. Each must decide for themselves. The more I push, the more others stumble. I truly believe we expect others to live up to standards we ourselves can’t keep. The Pharisees couldn’t keep the law so they continued to make new laws to help with the old ones which lead to more failure and defeat.

I ask myself, “where does this come from?” In parenting, it’s fear. I’m so afraid my children will get hurt or make the wrong choice or do something I don’t approve of. We as parents must guide our children but we must also allow them to experience the consequences of their choices. I have two teenagers and this is hard. But God has shown me that at the end of the day, my teens are going to do what they want to do. God is showing me, the battle is not between me and my children, the battle is within them. God continually ask me these two questions,

  • “Do you love Me?”
  • “Do you trust Me?”

Because if I love Him, I know that perfect love cast out all fear. (1John 4:18) And if I trust Him, I know He works all things together for good. (Romans 8:28) I must trust Him with the lives of my children, and I must know He loves them more than I do. The same is applied to all the relationships in my life and especially applies to myself. Because when I began writing this blog today, I had all these facts and scriptures about control. Somewhere in the midst of writing, I hear a gentle whisper saying, “now what about the things in your life you can control and don’t.”

O, me! Every time I turn to scripture to point out something in someone else, God says, “I got them, what about you!?”

You see, things I can’t control, I try desperately to control, and things I need to control; I choose not to.

I can’t control anything outside of me. I can’t boss people around and trust them at the same time. It just doesn’t work that way. Trying to be in control and relinquish control just doesn’t work; they can’t co-exist inside the same heart. I can’t control people, weather, evil or other’s sin, death, etc. But I do have self-control… I can control my thoughts, my actions and/or reactions, my words, my diet, my exercise, my spending habits, and the way I spend my time.

But isn’t it easier to look at someone else’s life and tell them what they need or don’t need to be doing? By nature I am an encourager and motivator, I am also a personal trainer by profession and so I do really well at getting others to improve themselves. But I can’t seem to take my own advice. I have witnessed several people lose weight with the guidelines I have given them or move more or declutter their home or read their Bible. But yet, I can’t seem to find it in myself.

I think Paul struggle with this too, in Romans 7:15,

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

He goes on to say in verse 18,

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”

In verse 24-25 of the same chapter 7, Paul says,

 “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Even in controlling me, it only comes from relinquishing my life to God and allowing Him control. He has it anyway but He wants me to freely give control to Him.

Psalm 46:10, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” The Psalmist says, “Let go!”

Let God have everything in your life…your family, your money, your problems, other people’s problems, your words, your actions and reactions, your health, your relationships and especially, your fears.

For God gave us a Spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

Is it not fascinating, the Spirit empowers us with power, love, and self-control. The three are intertwined and cannot be accomplished without each other. And if there’s fear then none are experienced. Fear hinders our ability to love; it lessens our power and takes away our self-control.  But if we are walking in the Spirit of power and of love and of self-control, there is no fear. Love replaces fear and increases our power and maintains our self-control. When I just love others and allow God to work in them, I am released from the responsibility to control them. I can allow them to flourish and grow on their own as well as myself. My prayer is that you, my family and friends, Grow and flourish in Him!

But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

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