Controlling My Control Issues

If you listened to my feature on the Beyond the Rut podcast, you learned I am extremely Type A. And, unfortunately, being Type A, oftentimes, is synonymous with issues around control. Organization, effective time management and planning make me VERY happy. And I LOVE GOOD surprises as much as the next person, but BAD surprises put me into a tailspin.

Let me take you back to when my control issues began…

I was raised in a loving and supportive family who had me in church EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. the doors were open. That is NOT an exaggeration. I always loved school and learning and made good grades. (Except that one time my sophomore year at OBU in Byron Eubanks’ Introduction to Philosophy class. YIKES!) My parents instilled a very strong work ethic in me and I first began to earn money babysitting at 11 years old. By the time I was 15, I had an afterschool/Saturday/summers job (that I KNOW assisted in keeping me out of trouble), and I have been working ever since.

Then, I did exactly what we are conditioned to do. Graduated high school, went to college, got married, and began the life of my dreams. And at the ripe ol’ age of 20, according to the standards of my peers, that meant being a wife, having a cute little house with a white picket fence, driving an SUV, starting my career, fun vacations and having 2.5 kids. And as best I could, I tried to control ALL circumstances to ensure my life played out exactly as I dreamed and envisioned. I had each decade of my life mapped out according to the “gold standard” of a dream life. Ashamedly, I was seeking “the dream” more than I was seeking the Lord.

But, that “recipe for success” proved faulty.

About 12 years into my “dream life” my now-ex husband made some extremely unfortunate choices that altered the rest of my life. The greatest pain I ever experienced was ushered in. My breath escaped me. I spent days on end flat on my face before our Lord crying out for Him to save me, save my marriage, and to give. me. back. my. life. And at the time, all I could see was that EVERY. SINGLE. THING. I planned out for my life immediately became null and void and there was absolutely NOTHING I could do about it. My life was out of control for the first time ever.

But being a Type A gal, I continued to try to control this new hand of cards I had been dealt. And, I did a verrrrry good job of “controlling” the situation to the point that for nearly 2 years, no one other than my parents and a sweet friend, knew my marriage was in shambles. Even my siblings were kept in the dark. I was under the impression I could control the entire situation, my marriage would be healed, and the public would be none the wiser.

Unfortunately, that’s not how the situation played out. After two very long years of fighting for my marriage, I ultimately decided to file for divorce. It was a decision bathed in prayer and washed in gallons of tears. And the Lord blessed me with the sweetest release I’d ever felt. Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating for divorce by any means. It was absolutely my last resort and the Lord gave me biblical basis for release.

My divorce was final in 2011. I gave up all control. I was tired. Tired of fighting, tired of controlling…utterly exhausted. I just wanted peace. Slowly but surely, the Lord began to heal my heart. There were some very specific things I did to get through this season. (Be sure to check out my post The 8 Steps I Took to Overcome My Greatest Trial.) A new normal began to set in.

In the days and weeks after becoming single, something interesting started happening. I slowly began to come out from under the pain and began to dwell less and less on the tumultuous journey forced upon me. I resigned myself to the fact that I was NOT in control of my life; and for the first time, I let go and let God. And that’s when He began to show out.

Around the time my divorce was final, I read Wrecked by Jeff Goins. It’s about how you respond when a broken world slams into your comfortable life. And shortly thereafter, God presented me with His first test of obedience to see if I was going to fully relinquish control to Him.

After following Jeff on Twitter, I saw a random tweet that he was hosting a Wrecked vision trip to Guatemala and was looking for people to attend. And I was like, “Seriously Lord, Guatemala?! With people I don’t even know? A third world country where I don’t even know what I’ll be doing?” And He responded, “YES, GO!” So I signed up, not knowing who was going, what I’d be doing, or what my schedule would be. This, for me, was the ultimate release of control. I NEVER would have done this in my “old life.”

And this trip changed my life. It opened my eyes to a broken world and allowed me to see there was a MUCH greater purpose outside of the comfortable life I had been living. This trip also blessed me with some amazing friends I never would have met otherwise. I’ve been back 3 additional times and have 1, hopefully 2, trips planned this year. I would go more often if my work schedule allowed.

I also began to see the Lord bless my work. Sure, I had for the most part, succeeded in all career endeavors. By being in sales and working on commission and now being single and fully responsible for my household, I saw Him send me sale after sale. He was making sure I was provided for and taken care of. And I remained faithful to His blessings by bringing my tithe to the storehouse (see Mal. 3:10).

He blessed me with additional opportunities to serve in my local church’s street ministry. Two Saturday nights a month, Church Unlimited loads up and travels to the inner city of Corpus Christi to love on our community. We provide a hot meal, clothing, hygiene products and have a kids’ area with games, face painting, and art. Our pastor brings a brief word and along with our praise and worship band, we lift our voices. We get to love on those who feel unloved showing them worth, value and the salvation of Christ.

In addition to traveling domestically a good bit in the last 7 years, I’ve attended the past three World Domination Summits in Portland, OR. The energy is electrifying! Attendees are surrounded with other like-minded individuals who broke the “dream life” mold I created for myself and are living adventurous lives centered on community, adventure and service.

Launching my blog is also a HUGE surrender of control. I’m extremely introverted and private and to share some of the darkest days of my life is only out of obedience to the Lord’s promptings.

If you would have asked me in 2009 where I’d be today, I would have told you dead from a broken heart. Although I never would have intentionally hurt myself, I begged the Lord to just take me home. “God, save me from this pain!” But He knew exactly what he was doing; His redemptive work began long before my world was shattered.

Again, I’ll say that I would NEVER advocate for divorce, but my life is SO rich and full and I’m happier now than I ever was being married. It’s true you have to go through it to get to it. In the midst of ultimate heartbreak, I found the strength to keep going and to relinquish control. I look back and the ONLY explanation I have is the Lord was carrying me. He met me in my pain and saw me through. And like Job he has MORE than paid me back for my trouble.

So do I still have issues with control? Absolutely! And it’s something I have to daily surrender. But am I still trying to control every detail of my life? Absolutely not. If nothing else, walking through the refining fires has taught me I am NOT in control. My best laid plans are now made after much counsel with the Lord. He gives me grace for my “Type A-ness” and lays dreams and desires on my heart which will bring Him the most glory. He IS my control.

There is definitely a fine line between planning and controlling. I do continue to plan my life, but now the Lord plays an integral role in those plans. I seek Him and His guidance in all. If life throws me a curveball, I seek His face in the midst and desire to learn from the journey. Where is the line drawn for you between planning and controlling? Do you struggle with controlling your control issues? I’d love to learn from you! Please share in the comments below.

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