Confessions of a Control Freak

I am a control freak. Plain and simple.

I like things to be in order. According to plan. On schedule. There must be a big picture in every situation, and said big picture must be the rule of the day.

I had to stop and roll my eyes for a second there. My life is anything but in order. According to plan. On schedule.

As missionaries, life is very much about being adaptable, flexible, and willing to switch gears at any given moment. It’s about changing plane or train tickets. It’s about revamping dinner, because the store didn’t have half my ingredients. It’s about dropping my carefully crafted plans for the day because an unexpected need arose or someone stopped by for a cup of coffee.

It means my house is messier than I’d like to admit. Or that I forget exactly which day I last bathed the kids. Did I really just confess that?! 

When plans, or worse yet – life – goes awry, my natural tendency is to worry. Worry about what’s not getting done. Be anxious about the money I’m spending or losing. Fret about the “what if’s” and the “what will happen next.”

Can you relate?

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Image via Max Pixel

God gave us brains to use them, not to obsess.

Yesterday, I was doing just that – worrying over a decision about changing plans. My analytical, super logical brain was approaching this decision like I do most any decision.

I was weighing the pros and cons. Picking the situation apart from every side. Painstakingly seeking the formula that would end in the best possible outcome with the least possible cost. In these moments, my controlling nature is at its strongest – refusing to give up until a perfect solution has been identified.

But what happens when there just isn’t a perfect solution?

I worry.

As I was deliberating, my mom sent me an encouraging and challenging read. It was uplifting – filled with hope about trusting God, resting in Him in times of worry.

And it was convicting to my analytical core. Here’s the section that grabbed me:

We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise we really are, yet it is actually a much better indication of how wicked we are. Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfill God’s plans. – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Ouch.

I saw myself in perfect clarity. When I’m caught up in the analytical debates about which way to go or which decision is right, I ALWAYS believe that I’m debating because I’m being wise.

Wrong.

Not that it’s foolish to make decisions carefully. Or to seek counsel. Or to take the time to consider options or possible outcomes.

But it’s not wise to worry or be anxious about these decisions. In moments of worry, my mind is like a never ending tennis volley, where the decision is the ball, endlessly bouncing back and forth, back and forth with no result. I think those moments are about me being in control, but in reality, they’re about me being a crazy person.

And – come to find out – it’s a manifestation of my sin.

When I’m deliberating endlessly over a decision, unsatisfied with any recognizable solution, I’m leaving God out of the equation. I’m forgetting that He is sovereign, all-knowing, and – get this – LOVING.

I’m a firm believer that God gave us brains to use them. That sometimes, the most spiritual thing to do is the one that makes the most sense.

But in ALL our decisions, we must never forget that a loving God has promised that He WILL work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to HIS purpose.

It’s not about accomplishing MY plans, or following MY schedule. It’s about me, as a follower of Christ, submitting to HIS plans. His purpose will be accomplished. And while His purpose isn’t always easy, it is always good.

Are you like me and tend to worry over controlling things? I hope this post will challenge you to stop and reflect, as it did for me. I’m just a recovering control freak, learning to put an end to the maddening tennis volley and rest in the sovereignty of a good God.

 

 

 

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