Confessions of a Control Freak

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I have a confession to make.   I really love being in control of my life.  In fact, if we’re being honest here, I have to admit that I’m a meal-planning, budget-loving, schedule-thriving, planner-addicted control freak.   Life seems happiest to me when everything is in its place, where I put it.  Routine, organization, and plans make me feel secure, and I love to feel secure.

Four months ago, however, a big wrench was thrown into my security-loving works.  That wrench was a seven-pound, fourteen-ounce, nineteen–and-a-quarter inch long baby girl.

My husband and I had planned and prepared for her for months, so I didn’t expect to be knocked so off-course by her arrival.  I thought I was ready for everything.  But I quickly realized that there was really no way to be ready for the changes that a newborn brings.

Suddenly, I wasn’t in control of the schedule anymore.  Her needs dictated my whole day.  And my whole night.

I also didn’t feel in control of my emotions.  I was overwhelmed with love for her, but at times, also exhaustion and frustration.

Then, in the span of two and a half months,  I got mastitis, a stomach bug, a four-day long case of full-body hives resulting from contact with a plant I didn’t know I was allergic to, and finally, a kidney stone that was too large to pass and after almost three weeks of intermittent, horrendous pain, had to be removed.

I wasn’t in control of my health anymore, either.

All of those health issues ended up costing more than I had estimated.  There went that budget that I had so carefully crafted and religiously stuck to.

To say that I felt out of control and insecure would be an understatement.

One afternoon, I sat down in my living room and fought a rising sense of panic.  What if I have another health issue?  What if something happens to my daughter?  What if we have more large, unforeseen expenses that break our budget? What if, what if, what if?

As I prayed for peace, I received no comforting promises from God that none of these things will happen, but I began to realize that my security was in all the wrong places to begin with.  I realized that I was elevating the gifts of finances, family, and health above the Giver.   For if the idea of my schedule being thrown off, something bad happening to those I love, financial difficulties, or health problems throw me into a frenzy, then perhaps I have placed those things above the Lord in my life.

These experiences of feeling out of control have shown me that true joy, joy that lasts in all circumstances, is the joy that comes from finding contentment and security only in Christ.  I can’t expect money or my husband and daughter or my health to offer those things.

The apostle Paul grasped this concept:

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:11-13)

Paul could find contentment in the midst of need and trials as well as plenty and abundance because he was rooted in Christ, not circumstances.

It is a daily struggle for me to relinquish the idea of owning my life and finding security and contentment in having it all together, but I’m learning that if I ask Him, God gives me the grace to do so.  When I do, I find that true security and happiness do not come from being in control, but from trusting the One who is.  There will always be circumstances for which we cannot plan, but we can rest in the knowledge that our faithful God will be our Rock in the tough times as well as the good.   That’s real security.

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