Inside: Being organized, making plans, writing lists, and having routines are all good things until we take them to an extreme. It’s time to get to the bottom of why you feel the need to be in control of everything all the time and then do something about it.
I was so proud of myself. It was the beginning of a new school year which meant getting back into a predictable routine and I love routine! Kid #3 was entering the 1st grade that year and, because she is a bit of a daydreamer, I thought it would be helpful to create a chart for her to follow each morning, afternoon, and evening. Read the list, complete the tasks in order, and BOOM! She would stay on track and things would go smoothly day after day. I even included times on the chart so she could make sure she was progressing quickly enough.
GO MOM, right?!
Can you guess how this turned out?
Have you ever tried to herd a swarm of butterflies? Of course not! Who would take on such a foolish and frustrating endeavor?! Well, my chart proved to be equally foolish and frustrating. It’s not that it wasn’t a good idea to provide her with structure. The problem was that I gave her zero wiggle room. If she deviated from the chart in any way, I freaked out. I had created the “perfect routine” for her and demanded she stick to it exactly.
My need to be in control of her every move was keeping me from enjoying what made my daughter special. I wasn’t enjoying her.
And it wasn’t just my daughter I wanted to be in control of. I had a schedule blocked out for myself each day as well. I predetermined the days I would run errands, do laundry, and see friends. My meal planning process took 3 days and involved 5-6 cookbooks, weekly ads from 3 different stores, and a grocery list that was organized based on the aisles at Walmart.
If my day didn’t go as well as I wanted, I just assumed it was because I didn’t maintain control over some detail. I was determined to do a better job the next day and the day after that. My entire life was one massive checklist and my happiness was solely based on how much I was able to achieve. Days when I accomplished a lot, I was on cloud nine! Days when I didn’t, I was miserable.
Can you relate?!
What is the source of this need to be in control all the time?
The Bible tells us that, as Christian women, we should strive to be self-controlled and disciplined. And these are good things, but when we take them to an extreme, they actually become sinful!
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28 English Standard Version
Our need to be in control of our children, our marriage, and our circumstances, in general, is rooted in the fact that we just don’t trust God to do what He says He will do! Our fear of giving up control is based on our lack of trust in the creator of the universe to be in control of the universe He created!
We don’t believe that He is capable of making good things come from the mistakes made by ourselves or others.
Have you ever said (or thought), “If I don’t get it done, it won’t get done.”
Or how about, “If it doesn’t get done my way, it won’t be done good enough.”
When we do that, what we are really saying is that God is not able to make things right. We have to do it ourselves.
The problem is we end up demanding perfection from ourselves and others. And that is just not possible! Then our need for control causes us to act in sinful ways that bring out the worst in us.
We get frustrated and then angry. Instead of cultivating peace in our circumstances, we increase the stress level of a situation because we don’t extend grace and mercy to others, particularly our husbands and children. We may be loving on the “good days” but our affections depend on our mood, not on the recipients’ needs.
So what we do about it?
It starts by confessing our need to be in control as sin, and accepting God’s grace and forgiveness through His son, Jesus. Then we repent, that is, we commit to turning away from our controlling behavior and ask the Holy Spirit to change us.
Sounds easy enough, right? HA!
If you don’t hover over your kids, will they misbehave or become lazy? What if you aren’t nit-picky about chores and routines, will your house become dirty and chaotic? What if you don’t obsess over your budget and you run out of money before month?
Is the idea of giving up control scary?
Friend, this is not an overnight process! Change takes time. There will be some areas where you are able to give up control more quickly than others. Some days you will go with the flow and then there will be days you will freak out over insignificant details. But, little by little, you will come to accept that you do not need to be in control of your circumstances all the time.
Eventually, you will even learn to find peace in the midst of the struggles because you are fully trusting in God to work everything out for your good.
So friend, confess your sin. Pray for strength to change. And remember that being organized, making plans, writing lists, and having routines are all good things as long as you live by grace and not perfection.
You can watch my video post HERE to hear more details about my personal story and my fear of not being in control.