We’ve all had our moments where we flip out. These come from feeling like we’re not in control of the situation anymore. When it seems things are all stacked against us, that all our efforts are being frustrated, that we are doomed to failure in something we’ve deemed important (which is usually something to which our value is tied), we sometimes lose control of ourselves.
The truth is that our own actions are the only things we can control, and that only because God allows us to. Everything else is in His control. You can make money and invest it, but the stock market could crash or the bank could go bankrupt. You can work out every day and eat only super-foods, yet you could still die of cancer at 45. You can be a phenomenal employee and still be laid off if the company goes under. You can raise your kids perfectly, only to have them enticed away by someone who doesn’t have their best interests in mind.
A scary thought, isn’t it?
It used to depress me more than anything when I thought about it. It’s easy to think, “Well, what’s the point then? Just stop trying.” That thought made me try harder if anything. Maybe, if I built up my armor – a big pile of money and a wall around my heart – nothing could hurt me. I’d be financially secure and nobody could step on what they couldn’t get to or see. The problem is I never felt secure. I never got to the point where I had enough money and I could never stow my heart deeply enough away that I didn’t feel the need to be with someone and open up to them. I needed friends, I needed a girlfriend. And family health issues made me feel helpless, despite my defenses.
I wanted to be in control so badly, but the truth was I was never in control and never could be. More importantly, I was never meant to be in control.
Fast forwarding to last year: I met someone whom I’m going to marry in just five weeks and two days (not that I’m counting or anything). She’s everything I’ve been looking for and so much more. God even answered prayers that I made once back when I was 16 and had forgotten about. Little things that didn’t even really matter, but I thought they’d be nice little bonuses, she has, like being able to play the piano. And on all the big things, like how to raise children, how many children we want, and what to do with our finances, we agree on with almost no compromise necessary. She’s not perfect, but she’s perfect for me and way better than I had ever hoped for.
Now, I didn’t create her. I didn’t raise her. I didn’t give her the unique skill set she has or cause her to look the way she does. I didn’t give her the attitudes she has on money, God, family, or anything else. I didn’t make her this way.
Honestly, I wasn’t even looking for her when I first noticed her. I was new to the young adults group at our church and was about to ask someone else out. On the night Leah and I met, we went to IHOP, where there was only one seat available near my intended target, and then the other half of the table was open. The guy I was with forged ahead to the first seat and I was left on the other side, where I ended up across from and down one from Leah. It was her first time going out with us afterward, though she’d been with the group for months. Even then, we might not have had a spark had someone else not asked what I did and, on hearing that I wrote books, Leah asked for help getting hers online. She read my book on confidence and started hoping I’d ask her out. The next week, we spoke only briefly, but the week after, we went to Applebee’s, where I again intended to ask my target out, but sat by Leah instead with someone else between me and the first woman. I got to talking to Leah, though, in church and especially after, and she liked MST3K, making her only the second woman I’ve known who does. It was that comment, on top of all the other things I started liking about her, that inspired me to ask her out the next week.
So many things could have gone wrong. I could have been too cheap to go to IHOP. She could’ve used an early start time as an excuse to just go home. I could have grabbed that seat. The question about my employment might not have been asked. She might have decided she was too busy to read my book. Any of these things going wrong and we probably wouldn’t be together. Most of the things were, in a way, our choice, but all were at the nudging of a voice inside us we didn’t understand at the time. When we gave up control, we found a greater blessing in each other than we had ever hoped for.
There are two parts to this:
1. You should give up the illusion of control. You can only determine how you respond to things and what you do. You can’t force things to come out a certain way, neither can you prevent them from happening. This doesn’t mean that saving for the future, working out, or other preventative measures are bad things, but that you can’t depend on them to save you. Only God can really protect you from everything.
2. When God is in control, His will for you is better than your will for yourself. In my example, I found out that my initial target and I were not well-matched for several reasons. Leah matches better than I had even prayed for. I listened to Him when He gave me subtle suggestions about what to do those few times I saw her and the results have been incredible. Whenever I listen to Him, even when things don’t go as planned at first, they always work out better for me in the end. God’s will is always going to be better than yours, even if it seems you take a step back at first by listening to Him.
Your challenge this week is to lose control. First, find out what you’re trying to control. If it’s multiple things, pick one and give it up to God. Don’t just say the words, mean them in your heart. Let God tell you what to do in that situation and don’t do anything that neither He nor the Bible says regarding the matter. If you catch yourself trying to influence it outside of God’s will, catch yourself rather than make excuses and let Him work.
If you have any great stories of the results of this, please post them here. I’m sure your experiences will encourage others who read this blog.