Tag: Control

I have a love-hate relationship with our local Target’s self-serve lines. They lure me with the no waiting temptation and then they frustrate me when they don’t register I’ve bagged something and the voice comes on and says:

Please wait for assistance

Everything stops. Sometimes the clerk is near and sometimes she’s busy with another customer. The frustration mounts that this stupid thing can’t register that I moved a bag and aggravation at myself that I fell for the lure of speed – again.

Today the clerk was busy elsewhere and the voice kept repeating ‘please wait for assistance’,‘please wait for assistance’,‘please wait for assistance’. The whole point of this line is that I don’t need help. I CAN DO IT MYSELF!

It’s a lie I’ve fallen for most of my life. I don’t need help carrying this box, I carried two babies for nine months, thank you. I had back labor that meds couldn’t touch, I think I can handle a surgical biopsy by myself. Just drop me off and pick me up later.

It’s not that we can’t do something on our own. We coordinate school, church and work schedules for our families like we invented the best organizational app out there. Waze….ha! We learned this part of the state carting kids to soccer and volleyball games when phones still had cords!

We’ve mastered avoiding fast-food dinner on game nights. Our sinks are dish free before we go to bed and speaking of beds, they’ll be made in the morning. Well, mine will and the kids….you have to have a little give to survive.

When the kids are grown and out of the house, I find other schedules and tasks to control. Did I say control? I meant to lead. On my own. I’ve got this.

Yes, we can do this ourselves.

There’s that voice again: Please wait for assistance

Suddenly, it was like I was in the Bruce Almighty movie. You know the part where he asks God for a sign. God sends him physical signs, blinking lights even, while Bruce continues to yell and demand from God while ignoring what’s in front of him.

 

Accepting assistance doesn’t mean we can’t do something. It means we’re willing to humble ourselves, to consider another person.

My son taught me that lesson when we were new in this recovery ministry. I thought the men needed to see a strong woman who could manage things on her own. What they needed was to be of help to someone. To have their kindness accepted. To be seen as more than someone broken by addiction.

Truth is, we were made to need each other. Interdependent, not independent.

Control is an illusion, a lie. It can lead to pride and arrogance. It can isolate us from finding community.

Doing it on your own is exhausting. And that may be what’s saving me.

i’m drawn to the allure of thinking I don’t need assistance. It seems so American and “I am woman hear me roar“. But it’s tiring.

I need my cousin on the other end of the email reminding me to breathe through my grief and frustrations. I need my husband to sit quietly while tears trickle down my face when a song takes me by surprise. I need men in a recovery program calling me Mom and offering help.

I need that voice coming through the register at Target reminding me to please wait for assistance.

I need to step back and let others help carry the sorrow and dance with me in the joy.

“I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 the Voice

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It’s enough to make me silence the news. There is fake news, alternative facts and more chaos and confusion that can make you ask, “Is anyone in control?

I thought you had this God. I thought you’re the one in charge. You set this ball of earth spinning but have you walked away?

There was a time I thought I was in control. I can still give that impression. When you speak with an ounce of confidence, have your lipstick on straight and smile you can fool a lot of people. Sometimes, I’ve fooled myself.

There’s the control we try to have when we say this is the way it’s going to be. We set bedtimes for our kids, try to teach them manners and make sure they wash behind their ears. We prepare mostly nutritious meals, know their friends and go to church as a family. And that can feel like control. Until it unravels and we blame God because he’s suppose to be in control!

Maybe it’s the way we tell some of the bible stories or the way we hear them. We give the impression that God is a puppet master pulling the strings and when things go wrong, it’s got to be his fault.

Maybe it’s semantics and we use the term that God’s in charge because it seems gentler? than control.

If we surrender our lives to Jesus isn’t that the way it’s suppose to work? He takes over?

Oh, but when Jesus takes over, when we give him control of our lives he does it in love. He never limits our free will, our ability to choose which way to go. His example of being in charge is that of a parent wanting the best for us but not constraining us against our will. He’s not a maker of confusion or chaos. He is the one that when all seems out of control, brings peace.

 ‘I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33 the Message

faith Five-Minute Friday

Mama’s whisper was the level of most folks regular voice. There was no whispers from her in church that everyone around didn’t hear. With people in and out of our house, laughter and activity always around, and all mama wanted was peace and quiet.

At the end of the day, she wanted to sit in her chair in the corner of her living room and read the newspaper.

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God-given gifts

There is that kind of peace. It seems to be in diminishing supply in our busy world or maybe busy makes us crave it more. My mother-in-law could sit in their apartment with only the sound of the clicking wall clock. I don’t think we’ve ever had a house that quiet. And to be sure, the clicking of the clock would have had me tossing it out or going crazy. Close call there.

Jesus said the peace he gives isn’t like the world’s peace. We define peace as the absence of noise or the absence of war. If his peace is different from this, then what is His peace?

This is the word that’s impressed itself on me this year. Rather, this is what I think Jesus is wanting me to know:  peace for my restless soul.

You’d have to know me well to know the anxiety that is just below the surface. A few years ago it got to the level that had me in my doctors office hooked up to an EKG machine. My physical heart was fine. Still is. But the inner part of me was on teetering on the edge, every day.

This is not a peaceful life. But how do we live peaceful in this world?

I seem to be gifted with empathy. I often have an understanding of others circumstance without experiencing the same things. It works well in our ministry with people so different from me. But there’s a down side to empathy: feeling more intensely.

And I seem to be cursed with the desire to control things. Like everything: how our dishwasher is loaded, how people should be driving, how fast the lanes in Target should be moving. Things I have no absolutely no control over except how I react. And my reactions aren’t patterned after the popular song, “Let it go”.

I’ve relied on medication from the doctor to help with the physical symptoms this anxiety was causing but I haven’t done my part in facing what I can. There’s always a part for us to play. God may be in control but he desires our cooperation, our willingness to let him lead; our acceptance.

I found Heather Caliri’s blog a couple of years ago and finally subscribed. In her writing, I’ve found a kindred soul sharing her battle with anxiety. She recently offered a short series to her subscribers on dealing with this. One of my key take aways is her suggesting we learn from what anxiety can teach us.

I haven’t been able to change who I am or how I’m wired, but I’m eager to learn from this part of me instead of being controlled by it.

I’ve recited the Serenity prayer with our men. I know how important the line about acceptance is. Now it’s time to make peace with it.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

faith hope

The words were barely out of his mouth when my body tensed, my mind closed and all kinds of ugly were running through my mind.

I was sitting in a place built for worship. With a group of people there for that purpose. Mostly. Some were there out of obligation and responsibility. That would be me this time. This time.

I heard him say something about breathing in holiness and a songbird outside the stained glass window whistled a tune I knew was from God. A song to bring me away from my ugliness and turn to God’s beauty. But I wrestled. Hard.

This is not a side of me I like. Not one many see. I justify my objections and pick away at the minutia and this ugliness was winning. I wanted to walk out. I thought that would be better. Better for those around me, better to get away and find God in the nature just outside the walls.

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Instead, I sat in the old wooden pew; between two men who have had their own struggles in life. The kind that look uglier than mine because they’ve been on the outside of life and mine, mine can be buried deep inside. Mine can be disguised as critical observation, a difference of opinion, a sharp wit.

It can be dressed up and worn like a pair of stiletto’s; oh, so, fashionable, but so very sharp.

Appearances can be deceiving, they say. A smile, our priestly robes, the kind words said in truth because God is there. Inside. This is the beauty I want to take over my life. But how do I find that sweet spot between discernment and self-control? When do I let go of control and choose grace?

Surrender is that graceful beauty that seems so Un-American. It goes against every bit of yearning to control that is buried deep within my “do-it-yourself” being. It is not natural to want to give up. The word bears hard on me even as I listen to the old hymn, I Surrender All. I want to and do. For a minute. The thing I’m learning about surrender is that you do it every day. Again and again. Throughout life. All of it.

The mistake I’ve made is in forgetting who I’m surrendering this all to. This all that wraps around me like a straight-jacket spewing barbed wire words. Why is it not easy to surrender this?

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I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed just being me.

My eyes have teared up at least three times this morning and always for the smallest things. Something is bubbling inside and trying to come to the surface and I don’t know what or maybe am afraid of allowing it to rise.

The day started with my mind feeling full and inspired but dissolved into seeing my selfish side that I thought, was so proud, to be dealing with. (Pride, really?)That’s how it happens right? Just when you lose those 2 pounds you find you’ve gained 3. When someone tells you how well you’re progressing and it all goes to your head because I think this was easier than I thought. I think I’m ‘there’. But I’m so far from ‘there’. And that brings tears and memories bring tears and frustration….yes, more.

Control has been a theme lately. That pesky thing that lies and I think I have and realize no, not in control of my emotions, of others reactions, thoughts, perceptions or driving skills (or lack thereof). Not. In. Control.

And this brings me back to surrender and here I am again, letting go and taking back, and letting go and taking back and wondering if I’ll ever just let go and stop taking back.

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Like a child I am wanting my way. Not the better way. My way. As if my way is always better. I know it is not. Experience has shown me that but my will is having a tantrum and while no one can see it inside I am pouting and stomping my feet and saying, “NO. I don’t want to!”

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Breathe. In and out calming the inner and find the words that will soothe. Not my words, they are a bit lost and searching and would be mine and that’s where the trouble starts – with me. I need his words, sometimes given through song, always given through others. His words comfort my wounded soul and take me to a place where my cries are calmed and his voice is heard.

I come into this place

Burning to receive your peace

I come with my own chains

From wars I’ve fought for my own selfish gain

You’re my God and my Father

I’ve accepted your Son

But my soul feels so empty now

What have I become? 

 

Lord, come with your fire,

Burn my desires; refine me

Lord, my will has deceived me

Please come and free me

Refine me

Jennifer Knapp

 

faith hope