The need to control runs deep in my veins. Simple tasks get turned into arguments and frustration as I attempt to grasp on to any fragments of security that so easily seem to slip through my fingers. Why do I have to be in control in the first place? Well, I have thought about this many times and have realized that although, I don’t like to admit it, I like having my way. Now, this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the need to control, but it is an important piece. The need to have my way seems to have its roots deeply intertwined in selfishness and perfectionism. Okay, you may be saying… Hey Lee, we already know this – what are you really trying to say?” Well, I guess as I began to see my need to control, I realized that its not just a ravenous appetite for power over others and situations, it seems to be rooted in hurt and fear. See, it seems as though if someone is selfish then they are just mean and spoiled right? They have gotten their way one too many times; they have always gotten what they wanted and demanded their own way. Well, there are those responses, true. Some who have always gotten what they want, now demand to continue to get what they want otherwise they are angry, hurt, etc. They come into a situation and demand their own way and immediately attempt to secure control of the situation. However, some never got their own way but still desire and search out control in a situation. Are these folks spoiled? I don’t think so; I think they just long for a sense of “footing” so as to not be afraid or get hurt.
See, I thought about this type of root of control and I wasn’t quite sure how to handle this. I don’t claim to know everything there is about control, but I do know I like it, as much as you can like a pit bull that can turn on you any minute. I lived alone for many years between my first marriage and second marriage. The time I spent alone (except for having my beautiful daughter ever other weekend and on Wednesdays) was my time to be in complete control. If I wanted to cook, I could, if not I could eat out. If I wanted to clean, I could, if not I wouldn’t. I had my routine, everything fell into place. My daughter would come over in the morning, I would get her ready for school, we would eat breakfast, I would drop her off, go to work, then come home and begin my routine. Everything worked on a schedule. I knew what to expect and so i never got hurt. Even a lot of those I hung around liked control and therefore we were their for one another as long as we worked into each other’s schedules and wants, and expectations. However, we could quickly redirect or reschedule should someone’s needs not fit into our control equation.
Love means not being in control. Now, I know I don’t fully understand this as of yet, but I am trying. Control is a fear response… if I can control how everything in my life goes, even down to those who are in and out of my life and how they respond then I am never disappointed. You see, I began to see that I was not able to handle disappointment. What disappointment you ask? Well, if someone did not respond to me in a way that made me feel good or acceptable. Additionally, if someone didn’t or wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do, then I would be disappointed. Sometimes, it is comes down to the “picture” you expect for life… if your picture is always the way you want it then you don’t have disappointment or hurt or fear that this will happen. If your picture is not the way you want it, then you begin to try and control the picture and those involved. Make sense?
The bottom line? Well, control prevents love. Control also dampens faith. You see, faith says I am trusting you God to provide, to plan, and to prosper. Control says that I must maneuver and manipulate the picture and others to do what I want them to do so that I won’t get hurt. Unfortunately, the control takes over and I become the god of my hour, day, future! Control also says that I will prevent you from hurting me or from disappointing me by ensuring that you are who I want you to be, not who our Father made you to be! That only tells those in your life that you are less than satisfied with who they are, but would rather them be something of your design. Sounds kind of sad right? I don’t like you the way you are, I want you to be something different otherwise I am disappointed and I am unable to love you. Sounds harsh, but that is a big message sent by controlling people… if you do this, that, and this then I love you; if not then you disappoint me and I feel less satisfied with you. See the underpinnings of perfectionism? It’s there. Be perfect, be my design, do what I want… then I can fully love you. That’s an uncomfortable message and it leads those around you to feel like they are not good enough or that they fall short just by being who God created them to be. Next time you want your loved ones to be who they aren’t remember that God made them exactly the way they are – He is the great Designer, the Almighty Artist, the Great Weaver of the Tapestry of who we are. I would much rather have His design in my life than anyone else’s. Love well, control less, and be who God intended!