Are You a Control Freak?

Hi, my name is Brenda and I’m a control freak.

A recovering control freak, but a control freak nonetheless. I’ve spent years wrestling down things that were intended to be free. Things like my husband, my children, and my garden. My husband refused to relent, my children took refuge in hiding, and much of my garden has died. My controlling years were miserable years.

Recovery has been messy. Mostly because I started it with such a distorted view of myself. I didn’t think I was controlling. I thought I was being diligent, striving for excellence, keeping high standards, obeying God’s commands. After all, we are commanded to train our children, right? I was drunk on self-righteousness. You could smell the hard liquor of pride a mile away.

I could see everything that was wrong with everyone, except for me. No worries. I had a plan to fix them.

God broke me instead. Everyday since I’ve had to acknowledge that little whisper that craves just one more drink of control.

Sometimes an aspect of recovery involves exposure to the big horrible that can happen if the addiction isn’t confronted. Teens caught driving drunk are shown pictures of alcohol-influenced traffic accidents. You know, scare them into seeing the seriousness of their behavior.

All of last week I was looking at pictures of wrecks. Every conversation seemed to be about how to manipulate or coerce out-of-control spouses, children, neighbors, and governments back into compliance. I got in bed last night and felt like I was preparing to wake up with the worst control hangover ever.

In the quiet of night passing into sleep-fulness I thought, it’s so exhausting trying to play God. And we do it so poorly.

  • We are rash and reactive, but God is patient and intentional, not wanting any to perish (2 Pet 3:9)
  • We shun, God embraces WHILE we were still sinners (Rom 5:8). Yes, that’s right God embraces sinners. Not to get them to “do it His way” but so that He can demonstrate His love for them. He doesn’t demonstrate His love after the sinner is all unsinned, He demonstrates His love first. Love changes people–He knows this.
  • We lay down the law, God pours out kindness. He pours it out and pours it out until it becomes a raging river that carries us along the waters of His powerful love right into the falls of repentance (Rom 2:4)

When I reflect on my own struggle with control, I realize that at the heart of it is my lack of faith. I don’t trust God to do the right thing.

Controlling people and details have been cowardly covers for my lack of trust in God.

I confess, I’m afraid that He will wait too long and things will never get back to right again. Could it be He doesn’t want things to get back to my definition of “right”? Could it be that it is true when the Scriptures say, “Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever” (Heb 13:20-21)?

Did you catch all that?

  • “The God of peace”–even in turmoil and distress, when things are not yet as they ought to be, God has the power to calm the storm of your heart.
  • “Who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus”–God is not afraid of death. Sometimes things need to die. We have a God who has a resurrection history. Do not fear the dying off of things, rather, anticipate the glory of new life.
  • “The great shepherd of the sheep”–Sheep are dumb. Expect dumbness. Resist distressing. You and your sheep (be they spouse, child, boss, doctor, or whoever it is that doesn’t seem to being playing ball the way you want) is being guided by a great shepherd. He’s got a mighty strong hook and he knows how to use it.
  • “By the blood of the eternal covenant”–But what about the sin? Shouldn’t someone have to pay for that? Yes, He already did. God takes the sin seriously, just look at the blood that flowed from His Son. He takes it very seriously and knows just how to make it white as snow.
  • “Make you complete”–God knows what is needed. Nothing will be lacking.
  • “In everything good”–EVERYTHING. Control freaks worry about the details. Calm down. The promise here is that even the details are covered. And they are good.
  • “So that we may do his will”–Are you worried that if you don’t act decisively, blow the whistle, or call the shots that your loved one will fall away or miss God’s will. Fret not. God gives us what we need to know and do His will. He gets trains back on track.
  • “Working among us that which is pleasing in His sight”–Friend, God is working. At this very second. He doesn’t slack off. Count on Him to work it out and make it beautiful.
  • “Through Jesus Christ”–When I’m tempted to drink from the bottle of control again, I remember Jesus. For one, it gets my eyes off of others (who I can’t control). It also changes my perspective. When I see Him, I remember all He has done–His miracles, the way He loved, His steadfastness, His perfection. I remember I can’t do anything like He has. He’s better left in control.
  • “To whom be the glory forever”–I can’t control, but I can worship. Psalm 78:4 instructs us to tell of the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord so that others will hear of His deeds and trust Him too. Worship doesn’t only change us, it helps to change others. Could it be that the others you’re seeking to control are resisting you because you were never intended to be their god? Make His praise glorious today. Make a raucous chorus of worship that will direct an out-of-control one to be captivated by the One who can do far more in their life than you can.

In the end, I’ve found that love is the most powerful tool God has given us. Are you need of a change in someone today? Be free of control today. Just surrender to God’s love for you.  Rest in it. Be confident He is working. Overflow God’s love to others. Watch His love work and be amazed. Free and amazed. It’s free for the taking today.

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