control – noun – the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.
control – verb – determine the behavior or supervise the running of.
Who wouldn’t want to be in control? I know this has been one of the biggest things I’ve struggled with practically my whole life. And it wasn’t until just a couple of years ago I was told that specifically my issue is safety-seeking control.
“safety behaviors (also known as safety-seeking behaviors) are coping behaviors used to reduce anxiety and fear when the user feels threatened. “
Thank you wikipedia, you’ve summed it up well.
From the outside maybe you wouldn’t be able to tell it, but I have spent my whole life running through scenarios of all the bad things I think could ever happen and figuring out how I would respond in those situations.
Up until just the past few years, I would have told you I like to be prepared for anything that might happen so that I have a game plan to put into action when the time comes.
Only the time never really came.
One of the big things my time with my mentor taught me was that I actually do have anxieties and fears. In itself that was a huge thing for me to own.
Another was that of all the numberless tragedies I’ve imagined happening in my lifetime almost none of them ever came true.
And those that did played out in a much different way than the stories in my head.
Even though I have learned many lessons about myself and the futility of living in anticipation of the next emergency, that doesn’t mean that I’ve totally conquered it. In fact, how could me controlling giving up my controlling behaviors show my ability to give up control?
I actually read Catch-22 many years ago, and this is one of those situations. I can’t make myself give up control once and for all and be done with it. If I could, then I would be totally in control of my lack of control. And my head is already spinning just thinking about it.
So how does a control freak stop?
In my case I can honestly say it hasn’t been because I decided I would give up running one thing after another and then followed a plan and checked things off a list.
In fact, I’m much more likely to discover that I only thought I’ve stopped trying to influence or direct someone’s behavior, or that I stepped back from trying to run the whole world.
What I’m less likely to take notice of are the times when I have no argument, nothing to add, no advice to give. But they are happening more and more.
In the past couple of months our family has been digesting Dad’s health issues. We honestly never knew he had so many! And as he puts it, “It is what it is.”
Okay, I can’t argue with that. But I want to. Because in all my “choose your own ending” stories I never came up with the specific set of circumstances we find ourselves in.
And I can’t do anything to change what is.
So many things we don’t get until we look at it from where it ends up. And we’ve only begun this path, so we don’t know where it’s going to lead. But I can say with great relief that I’m so glad God has had me on the journey I’ve been on through my recovery from all kinds of things, because though I always said I trusted him with my life, I’ve been learning how to actually do it.
It’s like an experience we had last weekend. We took an impromptu trip down to see Middle Son and Third Daughter (Dad’s new name for our son’s girlfriend). Our plan was to not have a plan. We had agreed on a couple places for dinners, and we already have a favorite breakfast hang-out, so little planning was necessary. Just games, talk, relaxing, physically being in each other’s presence was what we needed.
At dinner time one day we headed out to find the restaurant. My Australian Siri-man called out the twists and turns getting us from point A to point B. And in the hilly, circuitous roads surrounding the college town, it seems he doesn’t take us the same way twice.
We found the directions telling us to take an uphill switchback on a narrow road headed into a forest. It was twilight and raining. Third Daughter remembered her GPS once taking her this route, so she told us what to expect.
The road was still climbing when we saw our first herd of deer. Slow and easy we drove by them, careful to look for more crossing from the other side.
Then a couple of young, skittish yearlings that made me, the driver, slow even more. In our hometown there are lots of deer/car meet-ups that don’t have good results for either one, so I was taking no chances.
Everyone but me was counting, and they estimated about 20 deer were in a very short stretch of road. All I knew was that I was NOT going to follow that same route back in pitch blackness after we ate!
Then we came to a 90 degree turn in the road, onto a one-lane covered bridge. Truly covered, painted red, taking us over what I assume was a creek. I couldn’t see it through the bridge walls. But the bridge itself was beautiful.
Eventually we got back out to a main road that took us to our destination.
In my life I have been able to look back at a lot of hard things I’ve gone through. Sometimes the only thing I can think about are the losses, the hurts, the unfairness. At least I used to think more about the tragic circumstances.
As we travel this current road, I want to be looking for the unexpected deer, the beautiful covered bridge on a path few people ever travel. I don’t want to miss the sweetness of just being together, savoring our life and our family, even with who knows what looming in the future.
In my intricate plan of how I thought life would go, I want God to be the one to call out the twists and turns for me.
Because there are things he wants me to see that I would never know if everything went my way.