I like to be in control of my life.
That’s kind of a problem, seeing as there are so many aspects to life that I am not in control of.
I’ve spent years dealing with the struggle between the desire to be in control, and the conviction to surrender everything in my life over to God.
From what I’ve seen, heard, and read, I know that I am not alone in this struggle. It’s one of the big struggles of the Christian life – surrendering to God, giving up control. I spend a lot of time feeling frustrated – I want to surrender control to God, but I have all this energy and emotion that won’t co-operate. What do I do with it all?
But I had an epiphany last night.
I’ve been reading The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin (which you will hear much more about yet, believe me, because that book is amazing), and she ended the book by observing that one of the biggest ways that her Happiness Project made her happy was by giving her control of her life.
But here’s the thing: She didn’t get control over what happened in her life so much as she got control over her reaction.
I’ve been seeing my desire to control as such a weakness – a bad desire that I must get rid of, in order to surrender my life to God.
But the Bible makes it clear that God wants us to be in control of certain things – of our reaction to things, of our thoughts, of the choices that we make.
Self-control is a Fruit of the Spirit. We are told to take every thought captive. We are told to “consider it pure joy” when we face hardships.
Control over the right things in our lives is actually a good thing.
It only becomes wrong when I try to control things that are not mine to control.
What if I have a desire to control because God gave it to me? What if each of us has a God-given longing for self-control, for the ability to choose grace under pressure, for the ability to rise to the occasion, and control the things that He desires for us to control?
What if every time I’m frustrated about my lack of control in a situation, I switch my focus to control my reaction, instead of the situation?
No, I won’t end up getting my own way, but at least I would have a new direction to point my energy and emotions. I would still be surrendering to God what He wants me to surrender, and would get to work on controlling the stuff that He’s actually given me responsibility for.
And now all of the calm people of the world, like Ben and my dad, are probably reading that and wondering why on earth it took me nearly 33 years to figure it out.
I can’t control when I get an epiphany. Since I am not one of the calm people of the world, some of these things take a little longer…