My days have passed, my plans are shattered. Yet the desires of my heart turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near- Job 17:9-10
I am a recovering control freak.
Some of my issues with control are likely due to the personality I was born with. According to my Mother my first word was “no” and my first complete sentence was: “I will do it myself”. I am no expert in the field of child psychology, but I’m pretty sure my first attempts to verbally communicate with the world indicateI was born with a strong desire to be in complete control of just about everything from day one (Psalm 51:5).
Age and experience eventually made me philosophical when it comes to the issue of control. In my thirties (I’m a slow learner) I realized control is an illusion. One can have all the resources in the world, make the very best choices in every area of life and get all their ducks in a nice neat little row. Then a single storm can come along, wipe away all the good choices and demolish all the poor little ducks in the course of a single hour (Job 1:1-22).
This past week was such a dumpster-fire that I wanted to throw all the spiritual and philosophical lessons I have learned about life, control and trusting God out the window. I was seriously tempted to cross out the recovering in the first sentence of this blog and boldly own my desire to control the whole stupid world.
Just a few things outside my power to control that I would dearly love to control include politics, economics and the downward spiral of our society. Those “global” issues aside I am also wrestling with some serious family problems that will probably never be completely resolved in this life.
Just as I was preparing to jump into control-freak mode the Holy Spirit gently reminded me there are wiser and more productive ways to deal with life. Wisdom concerning this issue begins with recognizing and owning the following four truths:
There are things in life that cannot be fixed or even managed-
Because life is better and easier now than at any other time in human history, many people believe there should be a solution to every problem, or an easy button that will magically empower us to manage all of life’s problems without any stress or struggle. There’s not. Unfortunately, Christians and non-Christians alike encounter all sorts of things in life that cannot be managed or fixed, like stupidity and evil. When we encounter those things, we must walk by faith and trust God to use stupid and evil things for His purposes and our growth (Hebrews 11:1-2, Romans 8:28)
Just because we can control something doesn’t mean we should-
Anytime I have attempted to control another human being or the outcome of a situation without clear direction from God I have made a flaming-hot mess out of that situation. Seriously. Every. Single. Time. It’s important to remember that when we attempt to control things we have no business controlling we are essentially declaring with our actions that we do not really believe God is good or that He should be sovereign over people or the outcome of situations. I am not advocating Christians take on a “what will be will be” attitude towards life. I do believe there plenty of situations in life where we should proactively deal with issues but never without some serious prayer and God’s clear direction (Psalm 27:14, Acts 1).
The only person you can really control is yourself-
Okay, so this is fairly basic but it’s worth repeating: there is very little in life we can control. That said, everyone can control themselves, no matter what else is going on. Having self-control when everything and everyone around us is out of control is the key to learning, growing and being a light for Jesus in out of control situations (Proverbs 16:32, Galatians 5:22-24, Titus 1:7-9, Titus 2:11-12).
Control breeds anxiety-
Admittedly, this point is full of paradoxes but it’s true. Taking control of situations that feel out of control ought to give us peace and squash any anxiety we have. However, control freaks, especially Christian control freaks are ALWAYS, without fail, the most angsty, nervous, unhappy people on the planet. This is because Jesus followers are commanded to trust God (Psalm 37:4-6, Psalm 32:10, Psalm 139:23-24, Proverbs 3:5-6) and taking control of people and situations is the antithesis of trust. God is a respecter of our free will. When we choose to take control of anything other than ourselves God takes His hand off the wheel (metaphorically speaking) and lets us have our way. The anxiety we feel when we are the one “in complete control” is a direct result of spiritual disobedience and our foolhardy attempts to do something we are literally incapable of doing. Letting go of the illusion we have control and really and truly trusting in God’s wisdom and sovereignty is the key to getting and staying free from anxiety.
Prayer is the answer to the conundrum of control. It just is.
Every single time we pray about an issue we do two things. First, we loudly declare that we NEED wisdom (James 1:5). Prayer is admitting to ourselves and God that we don’t know everything there is to know and that we cannot make life work with our own idiotic efforts to control events and people. Secondly, we go directly to the source of wisdom, knowledge and power to get the help we need to manage life (Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 2:6, Proverbs 3:19).
This makes way more sense than the other alternatives.
One thought on “The Spiritual Connection Between Being a Control Freak and Anxiety-”
🙏As I read this my mind was flooded with all the things that are spiraling out of control right now. Not just family, but our countries many sins, businesses that could go under from loss of business or product & on & on until I felt anxious. Then I began praying that this drastic downturn would drive people around the world to their knees and the arms of our Savior, Jesus Christ!! Great job Lisa