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.