My Need For Control
And how religion has played an important role.
Growing up, my family was not religious. In the truest sense of the words, alcoholism, foul language, along with physical and verbal altercations, were a “normal” part of our family dynamic. Normal depending on how one looks at typical American families, focusing on either race, sex, gender, nationality or socio-economic status.
As time changed, so did my parents. They engrossed themselves into the church lifestyle and brought us along. Well, to be honest, they (my mother) dragged us along, and we (my sister and I) embraced this lifestyle. By embraced, I mean this in every way any pre-teen embraces a lifestyle bestowed upon them against their will — rebellion. I always thought the following (which I have come to realize was a life truth).
Control breeds rebellion.
Around this time, through the many struggles you may imagine any teen goes through while being forced to live a religious lifestyle, I was not in the best of moods. There were no happy cyan cats puking rainbows, pink unicorns, or that little Dr. Pepper Man who came out of your toilet at the most random (yet opportune) time, singing at the perfect pitch. Nope. There was none of that. Instead, there was this phrase, deeply embedded into my psyche through the many years of churchgoing.
“God is in control. If it is Gods will, then there is nothing you can do.”
As a young rebellious person, I was always frustrated when things didn’t necessarily go my way. By frustrated, I mean I embraced a typical teen attitude. Representative of a spoiled little shit, constantly spewing a nasty, negative attitude and complained to any person who was nearby, not necessarily willing to hear his shit. Simply speaking, when things didn’t go my way, I threw an unbearable fit. All the fucking time. Quite honestly, I was a pain in the ass.
I bring this up because I recently noticed something about myself. Well, two things.
1.) When looking back at my life, I noticed my extreme disdain for life when it didn’t go my way — leading me to a life of anger, confusion and negative self-fulfilling prophecies. Eventually, this opened the door to a forceful acceptance of all the situations in my life (both negative and positive).
2.) Part of this acceptance coincided — almost perfectly — with what I have previously mentioned: “God is in control. If it is Gods will, then there is nothing you can do.” In the past, this, unfortunately, enabled me to accept everything in life as “Gods will,” ironically disabling me at making any personal choices (leading to any eventual change) in my personal life. This had an affect on my relationships, friendships, finances, and so on.
If reading this, you say “Bro, nah man. That’s stupid. No one does that. That’s not what it means to trust in God, and give up control.” I have two things to tell you.
1.) Don’t be a fucking tool. Everyone takes things differently. Especially at a young age when their mind is easily influenced by others, life, or anything they may experience. Or, they already have so much anger and don’t understand the full concept of a Christian version of a Bible — translated over time and time again, to mean different things to different people of different religions.
2.) Really, that’s it. There is no number two. Just don’t be a fucking tool.
As life planned the ultimate tag team with the universe to essentially kick my ass, I grew. I grew with the intention (and emotional bruises) of wanting a change. I wasn’t waiting for it — I wanted it.
Though it took some time, things such as a collapsing economy in a high-crime rated city in the Midwest, being treated as a robot in countless dead-end jobs, having a target painted on my back in almost every job I encountered, a mindset of negativity and pessimism, depression, social (self) isolation, and a divorce, I decided enough was enough. I was going to make a change. Through the support of some professors enlightening me to my own negative self-fulfilling prophecies, along with taking an eye-opening world religions class, family members encouraging me to finish my current degree and eventually complete a higher education afterward, I made that change.
Needless to say, I took life by the horns and said (semi) confidently…
I’m done. I am done not being in control. I am done freaking out about my future and will make my future instead. I know I can’t control everything, and that’s okay. I understand there are things I can’t control and I won’t complain about those things. Instead, I will embrace them, and see them as a challenge, as opposed to “Gods will” disabling me of any decision making. This change will be for me. I will work for it, work at it, and it will benefit me.
In time, my life reflected this. I finished my degree, applied to university, completed my next degree 2 years later, and initiated a change in my life both externally and internally — mentally, emotionally, physically, personally and professionally.
This revelation helped me see things in another light as well. Upon looking back at my life, I can’t help but think that other church going folk embracing this lifestyle are essentially not taking control of their lives. Without getting too preachy for those who don’t believe in, or care for, the idea of a higher being, a God, or any religion, I’d like to say something. This applies to anyone willing to listen, regardless of whatever religious background, or any god you may pray to.
To those who accept everything in life as “Gods will,” you should know the following. God gave you hands to work. He gave you eyes to see. He gave you the wisdom to make decisions in your life. With the things you can’t control, embrace them as a challenge. With those things you can control, then do it. Don’t pray about it, just do it.
Yes, things aren’t perfect. Even now, life sometimes grabs ahold of me waiting to lay a beating. Simultaneously, the Universe bends me over and tells me to hold on and embrace the shit show it’s about to put on. Still, I embrace it. I embrace the shit out of it and tell them…
Bring it, motherfuckers.
There is an unhealthy desire to control things which we undoubtedly cannot, such as external situations or other people. Yet, I believe there is also a healthy desire to control. One that breaks us free from the inability to see things for ourselves, freeing us from procrastination, self-fulfilling prophecies, negative mindsets, anxiety, depressive episodes, poisonous relationships, one-sided friendships and so on. Fortunately, I have been blessed in realizing this, and made the necessary changes not to just survive in this life, but to thrive in it. If you read this, whoever you are, I hope you do the same.