My friends and family will laugh as I finally admit this obvious truth. I have a control problem. My awareness of this struggle surfaced as I faced things this school year that were completely out of my hands – which happens often in life, haha. This weekend I had the privilege to go to an oceanfront hotel and attend my church’s women’s conference! I have been going to PCC for over a year now and really felt the need to become more involved with women outside of CNU and within the church body. The same week that I was chatting with a friend about a situation that I was facing and admitted “I have a control problem” was the week that the Lord placed me at a conference covering the same topic – funny how the Lord works right? Not only did He know I was struggling with this, but He did not let me sit in that. Within days of me admitting this, he provided me tools to recognize and fight my grappling for control in my life. I am continuously amazed by how well He knows me.
The truths that I learned this weekend are too good not to share, and to be honest this is my lazy way of condensing all the information so I can reread it and direct my friends to it. The following summarization is from the mouths of Kate and Lois Shaw through the person of the Holy Spirit. I hope that they are encouraging as they were to me.
How Can We Find Freedom in Christ?
As women, we are helpers. We are go-getters. We are try-hards. But we also are manipulators and controllers sometimes. Sometimes this control comes from a desire for competency, pride, or achievement; sometimes from seeking security, or a plan; or maybe its that we want to know the outcomes/success of the things we are involved in/affected by. We think that once we gain control we will be free. Once we get things the way we want/planned, our lives will finally be tension free. Let me spoil the ending of this movie and tell you that “freedom” will not last. I have learned time and time again, trial and effort after success and failure, that my plans succeeding or failing have never been as good as His plans for us, and not nearly as freeing. As we repeat the truths in Romans 8:28 to ourselves, “And we know that those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”, why do we still try and create our own version of what’s good for us? Why do I keep giving up all surpassing greatness for my own control? I loved this quote from Kate as she shared:
“As long as I feel good about the world I’m creating, I cannot walk into His”
Man, this hit home for me. Sometimes I think I can find contentment in micro-managing my own life and timelines, and find freedom and “trust” God at the same time. In Proverbs 3: 5-6, the Bible says “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” And while I’d like to think that I live this verse out, truth is that I fail at this often. Despite how many times I’ve heard this, I only acknowledge the Lord in the things I’m ok with him “having”. I think my trust in the Lord is like some group project – “you take this part”, “you take this part”, “and no, I don’t like the way you do that so I’ll take this part because I think that I could do it better”.
What I loved about this weekend is that they gave us some tangible steps in what to do about this tension as we fight to give up control and acknowledge the Lord in all areas of our life (not just the ones we feel comfortable giving up).
- Remember the value of your inheritance
We are sons and daughters of the utmost High King. Romans 8:15-18 says “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”. If we do not understand the value behind this then we need to remember who Jesus is. We need to remember the way the Father cared for, provided for, and loved him. And this passage in Romans reminds us that we are coheirs with Christ… like what? That’s crazy. Remembering that we are daughters/sons of God reminds us that we are loved by the Father. We are cared for by the Father. The Father provides for us because we are His children. When we forget we are children of a loving Father, we think that we are alone in this world and that it is up to us to fix our situation. We forget of who we are in God’s family. We try to take control.
- Embrace the sufferings along with the joys of your inheritance
It is something we like to glaze over when we read those last few verses in the previous passage. “..heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order we may also be glorified with him.” We do not like to suffer, but just like Jesus, there will be suffering in this life. Also note that the verse not only mentions the sufferings we will face first, but it also joins the two phrases “suffer with him” and “glorified with him” with and “in order”. That means that in order to be glorified with him as a coheir, we will suffer with him. These two phrases are not independent of one another, and there is no “either/or” choice like we often wish there was. When you face suffering, persevere and do not take an alternate route. Refrain from taking control. And remember, we have Him in that suffering! If we are afraid of that suffering, we will never get to experience the fullness of His glory.
- Remember God understands us, and our faults, better than we ever can … and yet He has chosen to work through us
What a beautiful truth for our lives. That He uses people He knows full well are broken and imperfect to partake on glorious and amazing missions for His kingdom. Do not stray from His path because you think He does not hear you or understand. He is there in the waiting, in the tension, in the in-between. He sees you!
- Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude
While practicing gratitude does not change our circumstance, it changes our hearts and how we face our circumstances.
- Be in Christ’s community
If we cannot even let go of our control of how other perceive us, we simply cannot live out our lives in Christ’s community fully. Let’s be vulnerable and keep each other accountable.