Three Things to Help Control Freaks Let Go

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.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

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.

Countess Jasmine Miller

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.

Anne Marie Miller Compassion

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 :)).

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, hateful or rude. Let's be grown ups here!

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18 thoughts on “Three Things to Help Control Freaks Let Go

  1. I LOVE “What does this make possible?”. I need that in my tool belt for facing anxiety (because sister, I’m there with you). It’s so great because often my anxious thoughts spiral and convince me not only that the current situation is hopeless, but that so are future good things. But there is always a way forward. Blessings, friend :)

  2. So much of life is learning about what we can and can’t control, and knowing how much to control the things that we can influence. It’s a delicate balancing act, and it can hold you in a constant state of tension. I don’t think the perfect balance will ever be achieved, as life is constantly in a state of flux. But we do need to learn to be comfortable in that place of tension and be sensitive to knowing where to put in the effort to maintain that balance in life.


  3. Anne, you’re transparency in the world of “control freakism” as i sometimes call it is refreshing. And it could be that hearing the word “refreshing” in light of the stress and frustration one feels in the midst of exhibiting their control freak tendencies, rubs you the wrong way; so I apologize if that’s the case. But it’s just nice to hear someone else confess to struggling with the self-made cancer of control.

    As a fellow control freak I’ve come to learn the reality of humility. You see, a lot of people think humility is sharing apart of yourself you normally hide…which I guess in some ways that can be true. But for me, in my own life, the true definition of humility is admitting to God and the world, that I don’t have everything figured out. And that’s a big statement for me…because I have to confess that my control freak streaks (I know that sounds funny, sorry) tend to amplify when I get it in my head that, “if this thing worked this way, then things would be better.” In essence I’m saying, “I know what’s best in a lot of different situations.”

    God is teaching me (more often then I care to admit) that my resolutions only scratch the surface of what He ultimately can accomplish if I’ll step back and let Him handle things. It’s not about holding on in those moments, it’s all about letting go…it’s practicing faith really…at least I think it is :o)

    I’m praying for you today, Anne! And your puppy!

  4. Letting go is so hard. I am constantly playing the “what if” game. Some days are better than others. Some days the more I let go, the more it feels like things are out of a control. I try to talk to people about it, but I mostly get blank stares and people telling me to pray harder or pray more. What makes it even harder is that I feel like I am in a spiritual desert- prayers going unanswered, feeling alone, and a lot of uncertainty.

  5. My problem was just the opposite of most of yours – starting as a kid, I was much too painfully shy and insecure to even THINK about wanting to control. Then I wound up in a job where (a) I had to do a 5-minute-a week radio program. I think it was about a year before I could slow down to where anyone could even understand me, but it finally happened. And I started getting invited to be a guest on other local radio and TV shows. And did fine. (b), I wound up having to do public speaking, sometimes in front of several hundred people. What let me do that without totally freezing up? The verse in Isaiah that says “in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” I’d never even thought of strength coming from quietness – but it worked, beautifully.

  6. Fellow control freak here. My word for 2014 is SURRENDER. Daily learning how to let go of the anxiety and need to control. Learning how to trust Him more. This is my first time visiting your blog. Great to meet another sister on the journey to know Him more and release all. Blessings to you Anne!