Control has control on me.
It’s my thorn, my biggest enemy, my closest friend.
I’ve been out of control a few times in my life…
- The many times we moved when I was growing up
- When a youth pastor sexually abused me
- When a tornado hit my house
- When a car I was driving had a bad tire and sent me spinning down a 150 foot embankment
- When a person who said he’d love me forever changed his mind
But really, aren’t we out of control all the time?
Tim and I are in Sioux Falls. Our flight leaves in three hours. We get back to Nashville (assuming there are no delays, which again, is out of our control) at 9:30 tonight.
The girl watching our new little puppy called and texted while we were at lunch. The puppy got sick – take her to the vet sick and I am a self-proclaimed puppychondriac. I want to get home. Now. But I can’t. It’s out of my control..And it’s making me anxious.
Canines aside, earlier this morning, I spoke at a university and gave students an opportunity to sponsor a child through Compassion. Will they? Will one? Will 20? If nobody does, did I just let a bunch of kids down who need help? If 20 students do, will I wonder why it wasn’t 40? Or 100? It’s out of my control…and it’s making me anxious.
And it just snowballs…what happens if I don’t sell another book? What if nobody wants Mad Church Disease when it comes out in February next year? Or when Lean on Me publishes in October, what if it flops? What if I never get asked to speak again, or what if we can’t have children or adopt or…or…or…
(Take a breath, take a breath.)
I realize I’m not the only control freak out there.
And I think there may be two types of us: Internal and external.
Internal control freaks allow the “what ifs” to avalanche inside our spirits and distract us from the present, from the hope and faith we have.
External control freaks project the anxiety on to others. If I was an external control freak, I’d be at the airport forcing the airline to put me on the next plane to Nashville and throwing a fit about it (yes, so I can go home to a puppy; I get it). I would have manipulated those students with Western guilt and twisted and turned my words so they would sponsor children.
How do we release the anxiety we have when our illusion of control is broken?
This is what I’m choosing to do today.
- Talk about it: Thankfully, Tim is on this trip with me so he’s sitting right next to me while I type this and reminding me that God loves me, he loves me, and with both situations, I’ve done the best I can do. I talked to the vet and our puppy is getting checked out. I did my best presenting Compassion, and we know that some children’s lives will be forever changed because they got sponsored.
- Reflect and Repeat: I am a super fan of the one-sentence prayers that are said over and over again. For when I’m anxious, it’s “He keeps in perfect peace whose mind stays on Him” (my rendition of Isaiah 26:3) The rest of the verse says “Because he trusts him.” I trust God. Period. He has never failed.
- What’s Possible Now? My friend Gail has a saying when something doesn’t go as planned: “What does this make possible?” So, what does being in snowy South Dakota make possible while experiencing my anxiety and facing my control issues? I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. So, I can write about them. I can share what I’m learning with you. I can ask for your prayers. You can ask for mine.
Any life interruption is rarely a pleasant thing. Especially when it involves things we deeply care about (children in need and my little puppy – clearly I care about them in different ways; Hey, I’m just being honest with you!)
Control freaks of the world, let’s all take a breath. Share your concern. Pray. Do what you can. God cares about you and what’s important to you. Let’s loosen our collective grips and be present, now, fully and with trusting hearts.
(Update: As I was typing this blog post, our dog sitter called and said our puppy was sick and was given some antibiotics, but it was nothing serious enough to put her in the hospital…you know, just in case you wanted to know :)).