Control.  We all crave it.  We hate it when it is taken from us.  We feel lost and hopeless when we have no idea how to regain it.  I really believe control is one of those ever-elusive things that we as humans are constantly trying to obtain, but, far too often, it seems to be just beyond reach. You know, like the carrot dangling at the end of the rope in front of a horse.  The horse keeps moving forward, hoping to get that carrot, but never really has the chance to actually obtain it.

I think about the things in the world that used to make me really, really angry.  Some of those things still upset me from time to time.  I think about selfish drivers going under the speed limit in the left lane who never bother to move over.  I think about failed romances and how, no matter how hard one tried to make them work, s/he couldn’t make the person on the other side of the relationship return the love.  I think about the feeling of helplessness that overcomes one when their job, their livelihood, is suddenly stripped from them, leaving them without a way to pay the bills.  I think about the hopelessness that so easily overwhelms when a young innocent one is ravaged by the effects of abuse.  Oh, there are so many things in this world that can cause anger and frustration.  There are so many reasons we just throw our hands up in the air, look to our Father above, and ask, “Why?”

“Why?” indeed.  The fact remains that it boils down to understanding, and accepting, that there are many things in life over which we have little to no control.  We cannot change another person’s feelings or actions.  We cannot stop our employers from closing shop and laying us off.  We cannot save every young innocent boy and girl from the horrors of abuse. It’s this loss of control, and an inability to accept it, that drives us to the brink of despair.

There is a better way, however.  I have personally struggled with the despair and helplessness that comes with feeling a loss of control.  I have found that looking to Christ is the answer.  I often believed that I had been looking to Christ, but I realized, later, that I wasn’t giving him full control of those things over which I had no control.

A friend of mine once gave me this analogy:   He said to picture that I was on a stagecoach with Christ Himself.  We were enjoying a leisurely ride down a sunny path, when suddenly a bad storm hit.  Fearful, I try to turn the stagecoach around, but then Christ asks me gently if I would like Him to help me.  I offer Him the reigns, only to find, to my dismay, that He was steering me directly into the storm; not away from it!  I hastily take away the reigns, and, of course, because it is always my choice, He lets me.  He offers every once in awhile, and after some time I decide to let Him help.  However, I only give him half the reigns, as I never want to completely “let go”.

This is, in essence, what we do when we try to control people or situations over which we have no control.  We keep trying to take those reigns, because it is just too scary for us to let go and give all the reigns to Christ.  However, I have learned that when I do hand over all the reigns – not just one or two or three  — Christ can safely guide me through the storm.  I have also learned that He will protect me and shield me as I go through it.  He may not turn around, but He knows that I can handle it if I have faith in Him and in the shelter that His love and His Atoning sacrifice provides.

This took me a long time to learn, and I still struggle with it occasionally.  However, I have learned that my anxiety is greatly lessened when I do trust in Him and “let go”.  What good can worrying and stressing and being afraid of life be?  When we learn to accept the things we cannot change, change the things we can, and learn the difference between them, we truly can begin to appreciate the joy that life can bring, ups and downs and all.

— Michelle

4 Responses to “Control”

  1. Joan Says:

    I agree that when we accept that God is in complete control–and that He knows what he is doing, we need not fear. Things will work out for our good if we do our part but we don’t have to do everyone else’s part, nor are we even able to do God’s part.

  2. Joan Says:

    As far as anger is concerned, I think we become angry in part because we don’t have complete understanding of the situation and we try to mind-read another person, meaning we assume what they are thinking. Take the example of the person driving in the left lane. I was driving in the left lane but could go no faster because of the car in front of me. I could not change lanes because there were cars to the right of me. Another car zoomed up just inches behind me and started honking his horn at me because I wasn’t going fast enough for him. He had space to pass me on his right and proceeded to drive up next to me, honking his horn and otherwise expressing his anger–never bothering to consider that I could not drive faster than the person in front of me. He just couldn’t look any further to see that I was not the one causing the problem.

    We lash out at people for many reasons, most of them uninformed. I suggest the next time you feel out of control or anger, stop and survey the situation further. You don’t know all the variables. No one, or no thing, can make you angry. Anger is a choice.

  3. Joan Says:

    I highly recommend “The Dance of Anger” by Harriet Goldhor Lerner. It was one of the things that saved my life. That and a wise Aikido sensei telling us that we should say “thank you” for the attacks because without them we could not practice the art. Saying “thank you” to life’s attacks opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me. If someone is holding up the line, say a silent “thank you for allowing me to practice patience.” If someone snubs you, say a silent “thank you for allowing me the opportunity to practice forgiveness.” It is the attacks of life that allow us to practice and develop charity, tolerance, forgiveness and even peace.

  4. David Says:

    Thank you for the personal and very insightful comments Joan! Such beautiful and liberating principles!