Control: 1. The power to influence or direct people’s behavior. 2. The power to change or alter the course of events or a situation.
“We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth.” James 3:3
Growing up I rode horses. I had one horse that pulled on the bit all the time. The more I held onto those reins to bring her head down and bring her “onto the bit” and get her to arch her neck, the more she pulled at the reins. One day when I was having a riding lesson I was shown how to drop and “lighten” my hands and loosen my reins. The effect was immediate. She stopped pulling! From that moment on I learned how to ride her by using my seat. For so long it felt like we had been fighting one another for control and the minute she realized she didn’t have to fight against me, she stopped fighting. And riding became a joy.
What is it about control? Whether horse or human, we like to be the one in control! Or is that just me? I honestly feel like I can’t help it. Sometimes, I am compelled to control. Why?
The answer, author of “Let.It.Go” Karen Ehman says, is because I have a “false notion that it (controlling) actually works!” And to make matters worse, when it appears that controlling isn’t working, I think the remedy is found in exerting even more control over the situation! I should remember my riding analogy. The answer is in letting go, not in tightening the reins.
Letting go and letting God take control of the reins of my life is not easy. And I’ll be honest, it’s even harder when I’ve given God control in the past and it hasn’t worked out (in my opinion) the way I think it should have. I don’t like what He’s doing or how He’s doing it so I take the reins back again! And again. (I’m a slow learner!)
Reading Karen’s book, I have learned that ‘control’ takes many forms. It isn’t just about being the bossiest. Or the loudest. Or the most dominating. Control comes in many different disguises.
First there’s the person who controls by getting along with everyone. Miss Amicable. Miss Selfless. The Miss charming-disposition, nothing-is-a-problem, “yes-I-can-do-that-for-you” type of woman. When she wants something done her way, no-one is going to say no because she’s so darned nice! So she gets her own way every time. Just for being being ‘nice’.
Then there’s what Karen calls The Victim. This person might not yell or scream out orders, but the occasional well-timed sigh, shake of the head or even tears is all that’s required. This controller gets her way not by stomping her feet, but by dropping her smile. Pouting is a very creative form of control.
The People Pleaser “showers others with compliments. She lavishes co-workers with gifts. She says what you want to hear and makes it her goal to never ruffle any feathers. Ever the chameleon, she licks her finger and sticks it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing before jumping on the bandwagon. She may even change her opinion depending on whom she is with and what she estimates they’ll want to hear.”
It doesn’t matter what type of controlling personality I have (I see myself in all of these descriptions) or how I control things (people and situations) if I demonstrate any of these sorts of controlling behaviors, I have a problem. It means that there is a strand woven deep in my soul that believes “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me”. I might as well shout out loudly “I don’t trust You God.”
Oh yes, I believe in Him. He is Omnipotent. Omnipresent. Omniscient. He is good. He is love. He is truth. He is kind. He is forgiving. He is faithful. He is perfect! I intellectually believe and know that God wants the best for my life but practically and emotionally I don’t always behave as though He knows best. My lips say I trust Him but my actions sometimes say the opposite. My actions say I don’t trust Him enough to drop the reins and let go. Instead I resist Him every step of the journey, trying to prove that my way is best.
I don’t want to be like a horse and just act as though I’m senseless and can only move in the direction that God pulls me (controls me) with the reins. But I also don’t want to be like the horse that isn’t ridden properly, walking around with my neck at an odd angle and my head in the air, pulling against the reins. God has given me free will and a mind to make choices but ultimately the final decision is His to make. He is in control. Not me.
Whoever coined the phrase “if it’s meant to be, then it’s up to me” was wrong. If it’s meant to be, then it’s NOT up to me. It’s up to God.
The Bible says “Remember the things I (God) have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I please. My purposes will stand and I will do all that I wish.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
As the Message translation puts it, “I am God, the only God you’ve had or ever will have – incomparable, irreplaceable…from the very beginning I have told you what the ending will be…I’ll do exactly what I set out to do…I’ve said it, and I’ll most certainly do it. I’ve planned it, so it’s as good as done.”
Why bother arguing with that!