Blog 365 · Whispers of Faith

Letting Go of the Control Freak Inside of Me

Long ago I realized that there was this beast inside of me called a control freak. I’m sure there’s a nicer term for it, but I’m not going to sugarcoat the truth – my little “planning-obsessed” brain really, really likes to control things – or at least appear to control them.

And with a job as a teacher, I walk a fine line of actually needing to know what I’m doing and being prepared – and yet realizing that in the end, ultimately God is the one in control of my circumstances.

It’s been really hard this last week to find that balance.

The control freak inside me is like a coiled spring, ready to burst if my carefully arranged schedule is tampered with.

The control freak analyzes the details, makes the lists, scribbles things off it and simultaneously adds things, has a multi-colored page of goals, and falls asleep obsessing over everything that didn’t get done.

The control freak judges other people according to its own unrealistic standards and wonders why they don’t do things my way.

The control freak lives by a rigid schedule and feels guilty about every minute that isn’t productively spent accomplishing the multi-colored page of goals.

The control freak whispers lies in my ear that if I don’t do everything perfectly to my ideal then I’m a failure.

The control freak demands perfection. It demands adoration. It demands that everyone in my little bubble will do as I wish.

And it exhausts me.

It’s exhausting to try to attain unrealistic standards. What starts out as a noble goal – to be organized and to get better at my areas of weakness – gets twisted by the lies of the devil, turning it into something that is “me-centered.”

Falling short of my own standards results in guilt, anger or anxiety, revealing a heart that is bent on glorifying my own efforts. Pretty soon I have become a worshiper of my to-do lists and my “perfectly sculpted” classroom of ideals instead of being a worshiper of the One who has given me all things.

Trying to control all of my circumstances reveals a heart that is not trusting in the sovereign work of the almighty God – because it thinks that its own plans are far better.

And I have to turn to the word of God and allow it to seep into all corners of my mind. When I can’t stop thinking about all that I have to do, all that I need to accomplish and the fear that it might not all get done, I have to turn to the voice of truth. Only God’s Word can replace the nagging lies of the control freak:

“Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.” (Psalm 119:132-133)

He always has mercy on those who love His name. He will take me in his arms again and again and soothe my anxious heart until the control freak beast is hushed and it’s melted into His control. I can’t trust my feeble grip on the circumstances around me. But I can trust a God who has promised to never leave me or forsake me.

I can trust that He will make all things work together for good – even my ugly mistakes and fumbling.

I can trust that the outcome of my day is ultimately up to Him – and even if things don’t go quite as I planned, I can rest at peace, knowing I did my part.

I can trust that sometimes God brings interruptions to my plan on purpose – to remind me of what’s actually important in life, like loving others and serving them instead of serving myself through my rigid schedule and boxes to check off.

And if I’m ever going to teach my students about being flexible this year, they certainly can’t have a teacher who is inflexibly trying to control every step of the journey. I have to let them teach me a thing or two about living in the moment, accepting lessons that I didn’t anticipate, and listening to their thinking which is a truly beautiful thing.

The control freak beast doesn’t appreciate those things. He just wants to get on with his own agenda and let everyone else fall by the wayside.

But I pray every day that my Savior would be dearer to me than my own sinful grasping at control. I pray that His truth would shine more brightly than I’ve ever seen it before. And I pray that my life – as planned as it is – would also learn to be an organic thing, accepting change as a thing to be cherished – a challenge to be accepted instead of a horrifying hurdle to be lamented.

I’m not very far on this journey of slaying the control freak beast. But if you should see it surface in me, won’t you please gently guide my eyes back to Scripture and remind me of who’s actually in charge of my life?

He has so much patience with this stubborn heart. May He teach me His ways more and more every day.

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