It happened in seconds. One moment, we were driving down the highway, on our way to church. The next, two cars started to spin out of control. One flipped a 360 and headed for the median and oncoming traffic. The other accelerated toward us, about to ram into our SUV.
My first impulse was to grab the steering wheel and jerk us away from danger. A quick whip to the right would pull us out of play. But I knew over-correcting at a speed of 65 mph would only make things worse. The best course of action was to keep a grip on the steering wheel and move forward. There’s really nothing else we could do.
Just like that, it was over. Safety cables in the median kept the one car from oncoming traffic. It totaled the car, but saved lives. The other car, surprisingly untouched, pulled to the side of the highway. Everyone was safe, although it’d be well over an hour before heart rates returned to normal.
Control isn’t a bad thing. Without it, cars crash, neighbors hurl insults, and Kindergarten teachers want to quit. But out-of-control control makes for dictators and miserable living.
I’ve been known to be a bit control crazy (here’s hoping my husband isn’t reading this). I want my life to operate according to my calendar, my children to follow my directions, and my work day to go according to plan. Unlike dictators, however, I don’t wield control because I think I’m always right, nor do I have a sick addiction to the thrill of power.
I do it to feel safe. When my life and work feel like they’re spinning into oncoming traffic, I grab the wheel to right it. And make my world safe again. Control, for me, means peace.
Or so I thought. The funny thing about control is the more you grab for it, the less you have it. As well as the peace you were hoping would go along with it.
Over the past two weeks I’ve been reading a new book by author Karen Ehman: Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking In Faith. A timely book during this out-of-control season in my life, hmmm? In it, Karen shares her own struggle with control and few insights on why it never delivers like you think it will.
We must be trained to embrace this dichotomy of a truth: in order to get a grip, we have to let go.
If this is true (and I’m learning it is), my out-of-control life isn’t the enemy. Over-controlling it is. Like jerking our car to the right to avoid the crash, my hasty, impulsive hands-in-everyone’s-business strategy only increases the risk of friction. Even collision.
My gut-level response to chaos is to roll up my sleeves and micro-manage the life right out of my life. But much of life sits in a limbo beyond control, an abyss of unknowns that you and I can’t reach. The more we try to grab for it, the more it spins into oncoming traffic. Let go, however, and this is what you and I could find:
- Margin. Imagine how much time we’d free up if we didn’t have to manage every detail, and all the people attached to those details.
- Rest. Hyper-control is both mentally and physically exhausting. Letting go not only increases the day’s energy, but helps us sleep better at night.
- Peace. Beyond personal peace of mind, giving a husband, children and coworkers with a bit of space (and grace) would bring a whole new level of peace to our key relationships.
- Freedom. We don’t realize how much the need for control holds us hostage until we finally let go. When we do, we find the freedom to enjoy life for what it is, without needing to micromanage every unpredictable detail.
My car is still spinning, and I’m not sure where we’ll land. My impulse at almost every turn is to white-knuckle the wheel into submission. But I’m (slowly) learning to let go. One day at a time. One decision at a time.
And I’m finding the peace I wanted all along.
What could you use more of right now: Margin, Rest, Peace, or Freedom? What do you need to let go of to find it?
BOOK GIVEAWAY! Today I’m giving away two copies of Karen Ehman’s book Let. It. Go. If you want to be included in the drawing, make sure you leave your name and blog comment below.
IT GETS BETTER … Win a Kindle Fire! (kinda feels like Christmas, yes?) Karen’s team is giving away two Kindle Fires. One to a random reader who comments on one of the blog tour sites (including this one) and one to a participant who signs up for the 5-day free resource From Chaos to Calm: The LET. IT. GO. Christmas Challenge.
I’m a recovering controller. Not the financial kind with a CPA after my name. The kind that provides directional leadership for everyone within my happy little “safe” world. I’ve been s-l-o-w-l-y letting go, loosening my grip for nearly 8 years now. This hasn’t necessarily been my choice, let’s just say that God has allowed circumstances, situations, relationships, pretty much all I held closely to change, disappear, be taken away, or stripped away leaving me desperate for God to take control and to provide the peace, re-direction, eternity-focused vision that I needed. Peace was elusive at first. But it came as an unexpected, quiet gift, bringing with it rest and hope and strength and life! Thanks for this timely post which reminds me of the journey I am still on. Soli Deo Gloria.
Ah, you used the “safe” word, too. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through difficult circumstances, Marina. I’ve had a few of those—not fun! Like you, however, that was the key to starting to let go. A gift in disguise.
You’d think surviving cancer would’ve cured me from needing to have control (since I know what it’s like to have NO control & come out of it so well!), but it’s really just taught me to shift my need to control. Boo. Eager to check this out!
Ha! I’ve thought the same thing … “Shouldn’t I be over this now?!”
Good stuff here. I am in the throws of this addiction – control. It was almost like you were reading my mind journal – ha ha. This is a slow process but one worth embarking on. Thanks for this beautifully written post.
We’re thinking alike. I knew I liked you!
Oh, I know that feeling of being so concerned about things going according to OUR plan that it is all too easy to forget that God is in control and we are simply supposed to be resting in that fact and living our lives in a way that honors Him. Thank you for the reminder! The book looks like a wonderful read. Thank you for hosting a giveaway.
Have a wonderful day!
Sounds like a book I’d love to read. I believe women have an especially difficult time letting go of control issues. I always say, “If you have or have ever had a uterus, you have control issues.” :0)
I, too, am guilty of trying to control everything. I have found when I loosen up on the kids, things are more comfortable, but not everything gets done. That’s when I start gripping for control again.
COMMENT: I empathize with you very much, Maurina. I too have had many, many difficult circumstances myself. I am learning more and more to lean on God. Sometimes, I find myself having doubts. When the particular trial is over, I see where God was going in that particular circumstance.
All of you are great!! Thank you.
The imaginary sense of control I often yearn for is so destructive! When my kids were still home, I really thought I was Helping – not Hurting – them by being proactive or whatever I would call it to justify my behavior. Over the years we’ve been able to talk about my control-freak behavior and I can see how destructive it’s been. Thankfully, they are patient while I continue working on changing myself.
It took the realization that wanting to be in control was my self-defense for -exactly what you said -feeling safe. I needed emotional safety at any cost. I also think trying to control those around me was a coping mechanism that allowed me to focus on everyone’s problems but my own!
This book sounds amazing, thanks for mentioning it (especially during this crazy holiday season!).
I tend to be a massive control freak. So much so that I can’t ride in a car with anyone other than my husband without it causing motion sickness. I hate not being in control! I need the safety of control. So trusting God and giving Him complete control has always been a struggle for me. It continues to be a struggle. I want to be in control and know where I am going, how I’m getting there, and what is going to happen once I get there. Thanks for sharing this blog post. 🙂
My needed area is rest. I hate how when I am trying to control the most I can’t seem to sleep well at all.
Me, too …
I could use rest and healing in my mind and heart.
I have struggled with control most of my life. Well, okay i actually i didn’t struggle with it as much as the people closest to me have had to struggle with control issues.
This past year I’ve been fighting Breast Cancer. The one thing God hs definitely tutored me on this year is releasing that need to control. Relying fully on him. I’m not completely healed (yet) it’s going to take some time just like my cancer scars, in the meantime I’m just humbled that my God see’s me worthy of His grace and mercy and healing <3
Hi there, Gina. Thank you for telling us about your Breast Cancer battle. I hope you saw the comment above by Jenny Mosier … She’s fought the same fight. You are not alone! Cancer certainly has a way of teaching us a thing or two about control. Glad you’re part of our family here.
Hey Gina! It’s amazing how we learn so much during trying times like cancer, isn’t it? I’ve always felt guilty that cancer is SUCH a heinous disease, and my heart is broken for the families of those who have lost their lives to it, yet I can’t help but be thankful for my cancer because of the tangible way God showed up throughout the entire thing. I pray your heart is encouraged as you fight your battle! My sweet mom struggles with control REALLY badly. It’s so much a part of her I don’t even know if she could identify it. My cancer made it much worse, I’m afraid, but I think it also gave me more courage to stand up & speak the truth in love to help her see how control can be harmful, not (always) helpful. Live & grow, grow & live, right? 😀
I thought when you are capable of having money. you could have it all.
but I thank GOD ive known HIM , but still plans goals have to bepray over, it doesnt happened over a year . well as a person , i have let go of many things in my life , i just have to realized it all.
may i be bless with the book you have written for im fond of reading books
thank you and GOD bless you.
Blessing to all !!!!
door close , other doors open .
thank you for allowing us to have such kind of book.
I had just been thinking the last few days about making some specific changes this Christmas season to simplify, so this is another encouragement. I just signed up for the five-day challenge. Looking forward to praying and asking for God’s direction. Thanks, Michelle!
Imagine a truly peaceful Christmas … Thank you for your ongoing leadership, Brenda.
So glad to have this book as a learning tool for what God wants me to do with myself and how to help other women with this controlling issue……..we all need to just Let It Go!!!! Thanks Karen for this opportunity!
Wow – you’ve hit on the exact theme of what God has been teaching me all year! Relinquishing control that I’ve never really had. It’s like how I hit the imaginary brake while in the passenger seat – how silly to think I really have any control over the speed of the car! God is always in the driver’s seat of my life, and He has been gently reminding me of that this year. The outcome of my life does not hinge on my abilities, efforts or merit, it is completely dependent on God alone and His plan for my life. I need to sit back and trust Him to take me where He has planned for me to go since before the beginning of time. What freedom comes with letting go!
From the look of things, I think this has been a theme for a lot of us! Thanks for sharing your story, Emily.
This year, has been a journey of God showing me that He is in control & not me. But, I still find myself trying to control things more than I really should & need to. I’m eager to read Karen’s book.
Control. I feel as if I am at peace when my life is all orderly and on schedule. I was reading an email this morning about manipulation, another nasty word I don’t particularly care for, and it made me stop and think about the order I have in my life. Maybe the control I so desperately cling to is me manipulating my life to the way I see it should be and not God’s way. It is safer in this little world I have created, but I now have to ponder is it what I want or what God wants? Letting go of the control is hard for me, I am a planner, I have had my sons birthday party planned for months now (his birthday is in April), letting go of the control means that my carefully made plans might not work out, that makes me nervous thinking about it! I have really struggled in this area and I am coming to realize that while I might feel ok with controling everything that others might be offended and feel useless.
Karen’s book is timely not only for the season but also for my life. I continually TRY to turn my life over to God and lessen my control over my daily happenings. It is oh so hard. I have just discovered your blog and find it very helpful and insightful. Blessings to you and yours.
I have been on a LONG recovering journey from a Bad accident in 2007 where I suffered a Brain Injury! So I’m relearning how to do alot of things & I think I now have No Control of alot of things and God is helping me thru All this but I’m still finding myself struggling to Let It All Go & this book could help me so I’m eager to read it!
can’t wait to read this, the 5 day thing was so convicting!
The past year and a half have been a lesson in letting go. Life as my family and I had none it has been turned all around. In the midst of the bad have come rays of goodness. Kind of like decluttering, I guess. Realizing there are some things that just need to removed, and yet finding a gem hidden behind the junk. This I know…God is in control and my strength will come from waiting on Him.
I could use more freedom. I too find that the more I try to control, the more out of control I feel since the circumstances will seem to swallow me. The book sounds amazing. Thanks!
Wow, you said that so well. In the past two years, I’ve often felt swallowed by circumstances. A terrifying feeling. Like a drowning person, the more you struggle, the more you sink. If you let go and lay back, you find you could float all along.
Oh, to experience the freedom of letting go, and letting God. I trust in Him, but do I really trust in Him and in His plan/s for my life and for the lives of my precious family. I so want to turn it over to Him, and rest in that, and live in freedom.
Trying to Let It Go . . . its harder the older I get!
What a great analogy for how over controlling can cause disastrous results. Thank you for sharing!
I don’t think I’ve heard of a book that describes me more. I need this one! Thanks for the chance. I’ve only recently become acquainted with Karen’s writing, and I’ve enjoyed her blog hop.
I think I’m like you. I control to feel safe. Thanks for dissecting this issue with such clarity!
This is an interesting perspective, looking at how out of control can be better versus looking only as letting go of control.
I need Margin and Peace. I always complain about not having enough time to get everything done, but in reality, I don’t have to be the one doing everything – if I could give up control. Growing up as an only child I got “my way” too often, and now that’s all I want. Both excited and scared to read this, because giving up control feels a little like jumping off a cliff…
Great story for control! Crisis situations definitely bring out our true colors of control.
For me the fruit of control stems from the root issue of trust. The more i feel out of control with trust, the more I try and manipulate my situations and even people. Those are not my best moments. I would say i lack peace the most when it comes to control. I hold my breath and hold a lot of tension when it comes to trust. Grr. I am grateful that God is so smart to give me physical red flags to let me know I am holding too tight to control. Peace is my mantra this week.
This time of year is always hectic…after reading several of the blogs related to “letting go”, I have been trying to “give myself” permission to rest more into the next few weeks. I am trying to let others do “their thing” and I will do mine. It is time to realize that I have to Trust others again… & most importantly Let GO & Let GOD have Total Control!
I think I actually have a enough rest, peace, margin but at the same time I still hit a wall a few times a year. I think my problem is needed more frequent and deeper rest.
my favorite line — “I do it to feel safe.” and yet I know that control is never a good solution to fear. Rest and peace sound wonderful — people still tell me I seem nervous more frequently that I would like — This sounds like a great book Michele. Thanks for the post.
Michele, I love the message. Never before have I seen this demonstrated than the recent trip to the Dominican Republic. From the “getting ready” to the final day there the message was always “lay it down”! It took some doing for me to hear the words, and stop trying to control not only every detail but the outcome of what God would have in store for us. Funny thing is, all He wanted was for me, for the team, to give total, and I mean total control to Him. Yes we had to plan, but did we surrender the control of those plans to Him all the way through? Not at first, but it didn’t take long to realize the gently whispered “lay it down” was in order for Him to do what He does best, show us a deeper picture, give us a deeper understanding and a much deeper intimacy with Him. WOW! Once the first step of “laying it down” happened, the flood gates burst open. I have seen God show me His faithfulness, His Glory, His power, His love, His presence and provision in ways I never thought possible. You see, if I had kept control, then I would have missed those intended moments of encounter with hearts waiting for His word, His word within me, a whole week of strategically placed treasures, that would have been totally missed had I not surrendered control and “laid it down” before Him. Thanks for expanding my understanding of that truth.
Hugs to you….Alice
“Lay it down.” I love that. Might have to write that one up on a note card and carry it around. Thank you, Alice.
Your welcome, so glad it has a note of truth for you as well and saw that you shared it, hmmmmmm, like that it’s rippling outward! Hugs
I think Letting it Go for me is one of the hardest things to do. You know you should and you try to but somehow you pick it up again. Thanks again for sharing with your gifts. Not only the physical ones but the Spirtual ones to. I have been wanting a Kindle for a long time.
I desperatly need mental rest, but letting go is a challenge. I will work on walking it out in the up comming year. Thanks for posting!
The good news is the entire year doesn’t have to be lived in a day. Just one day, one decision at a time.
I would love to read this book!
I too am a controller. I want to control all the circumstances and people I come into contact with daily, often making my family (and myself!) miserable in the process! Oh how I can’t wait to read this book!
What?! My control-freakish ways make other people miserable? Surely not. 😉
Thank you so much for this post. No matter how hard women try to let go it seems to be so hard for most of us. I didn’t realize how controlling I was until I went through intensive counseling going through my separation and divorce last year. I am in a series of transitions of coping with dreams taken away from me and leaning on God and learning to let things go is the only thing that helps me day by day. I also learned that my mother is even worse than me and i picked up many of her unhealthy habits. Hopefully I will keep walking out of this place in my life stronger and will find happiness again later in life.
Thank you for the wonderful reminder that the white-knuckled control I want never leads to a good outcome! I am most in need of freedom – the freedom to rest in God’s guidance and provision. Let It Go sounds amazing.
Now if I could just remember that on a moment-by-moment basis! Thanks for sharing here, Julie.
I am a recovering controller. But (the inevitable BUT), there are so many things that I know God has either called me to do or given me the green light to-do, that my brain is swimming. My to-accomplish list is so long that thoughts of failure creep in and I revert back to “controlling” to tame the anxiety. Uugh! They are all a priority, the order in which they fall is the tricky thing!
Agree! I often mistake my “to-accomplish” list as a “to-accomplish-today” list. I’m learning to do what I can, when I can, and that it’s okay to let the unfinished things sit. One day at a time …
Peace. The fruit of the Spirit that always seems to remain at the elusive top of the tree.
AND THE WINNERS OF THE TWO FREE BOOKS ARE … (drum roll, please) … Bethany Turner and Tracee Persiko! Congratulations! Please shoot me an email with your mailing address and we’ll get Karen Ehman’s “Let. It. Go.” to you ASAP. From my heart to yours, thank you for sharing your stories here!