Control Freak

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Read time: 7min
“Sometimes I need to stop and remember that you are God and I am not.”  Thy Will by Hillary Scott

I love being in charge. It’s a part of my personality. I love making lists and having tasks to accomplish. It gives me a sense of purpose and puts me in a position of control and power, allowing me to determine where and how I can go forward and create my own future.

Sounds a bit selfish and self-obsessed, doesn’t it?

And it is. But to me, it feels like I am being effective and efficient. I’m not one for waiting around for someone to hand me my destiny. No. I am going to be the one to create it. From my sweat and tears I will create my future.

During my time at the University of Pretoria, I was part of the Elective Committee (EC) for my residence (a day house called Vividus Ladies). As Elective Community, you are given a portfolio and you are then in charge of all the events that need to happen for that year within that portfolio. My portfolios included being in control of the marketing of the house as well as seeing to the spiritual well-being of the residents. This meant arranging prayer mornings – making sure there was coffee, tea and of course biscuits – among other things.

Being part of the EC was right up my alley because I loved being in control, planning things and making them happen. I would plan everything out far in advance, with timelines and due dates for tasks. The year was a struggle between balancing my studies and planning all the events. But, I was in control of everything. I was managing to do it all in my own strength.

For a while that is.

And then it started wearing me down. The more ‘in control’ I was, the more out of control I felt. I was exhausted and didn’t have the time or energy to keep up with my intense planning and task schedule.

During this time, I often experienced a strong sense of failure as I was not able to live up to the high expectation I had set. In addition to that, I was not getting around to all the tasks I needed to complete, and it was all very overwhelming. But, time and time again, God would come through for me.

The week leading up to one of my prayer mornings had been a rough one. Functioning on very little sleep, I remember crying out to God: “I don’t have anything planned to say to the girls tomorrow morning and have no idea what I’m going to do!” Exhausted, I fell asleep.

The next morning, I woke up early to set up for the prayer morning which took place before the first 7:30 class of the day. I grabbed a bunch of blank cards that I had made a few weeks earlier and a couple of pens. I felt prompted to not share a message but rather let the girls minister to each other by writing down encouraging and uplifting messages in each other’s cards.

In my eyes, that morning was a complete failure. I had no message planned and had tried to cover that up with an activity. We ran out of milk. We also didn’t have an urn that morning, so I had to run and fill the kettle in the nearest bathroom constantly.

But, it wasn’t a failure!

God had heard my prayer and ministered to every girl there through a simple little activity. I had many of them come to be afterwards and thank me because the ministry session was very valuable and meaningful to them.

God had my back, even when I thought everything was out of control. The moment I slipped up and couldn’t keep all of the juggling balls in the air, He stepped in and made sure none of the balls fell in that moment. To the other EC and house members in the room that morning it probably seemed like I had it all together, because God had come through for me. But, in private, He humbled me that morning.

By controlling everything, I was only allowing God to help in certain spheres in my life. I deemed certain things too trivial for God to help me with them. In my mind, only the ‘big things’ were ‘God things’; for the rest of the ‘little things’ that I was expected to do, I just had to ‘make them work’ or ‘get them done’. But, He wants to be involved! God doesn’t require us to do everything on our own. He wants to help us, but in order to do so we need to learn to surrender all our plans, or lack thereof and allow God space to work. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to prepare, but instead of preparing for everything to be perfect, prepare for Him to show up.

Letting go and letting God is a continuous process.

My prayer morning ‘failure’ helped me realise that not everything needs to be perfect for God to work in and through us. Rather than being stressed and freaking out about everything not going our way, we could simply be enjoying the moment. Instead of running to go fill up the kettle before anyone notices it’s empty or that I am missing, I could have taken a walk with one of the girls to fill the kettle and spent some time just loving her. There are two things I regret about this experience, and my time on the EC. The first is how I did not step back often enough to enjoy all my hard work and planning and just watch God move in and through the events He had wanted me to plan. The second is how I failed to step out of my perfectly planned timeline to take a moment with the people around me and really connect with them.

I can’t relive my EC year and re-do it ‘better’. For a long time after my ‘failed’ prayer morning, all I wanted was to go back and fix things. But God was there through it all. He is in our mistakes as well as our successes. He helped my heart feel at peace with the knowledge that I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. Now, I know better, so I need to let go and let God. I need to abide by the words of Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”. This verse is now even on my laptop wallpaper to remind me of this daily. I need to focus less on my desire to control and perfect things around me and focus, instead, on looking for ‘God opportunities’ with the people around me.

Being organised is part of who I am. I needed to accept that – accept it with all the pros and cons that being organised and wanting to control and perfect things comes with. After all, God made me this way because He needs organised people who can take control and lead and help people in His kingdom. But, I need to be aware and careful, because it shouldn’t hinder me from His purpose for my life. God should always be my focus. If I allow myself to focus on my own desire to be in control, it will take over and, with that, hinder all the good that can come from it. A lack of ‘God focus’ will prevent me from blessing the people around me.

I recently came across a song called Thy Will by Hillary Scott that helped me to remember that I need to stop controlling things. There is this one particular sentence in the song that hit home for me and refocused me on surrendering and allowing God to work in and through me: “Sometimes I need to stop and remember that you are God and I am not.”

Here is the link, if you want to have a listen:

Thy Will by Hillary Scott

You can also download the Proverbs 3:5 wallpaper here

I would love to hear from you:

In what areas of your life are you restricting God?

Here's to a new decade!
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