Let’s face it: we don’t get to control every area of our life. Consider all of the elements that contribute to where you are today. Things happen that neither you nor I have the power to change. We do not have the capacity to control even those people who are closest to us. Then there’s the weather, the economy, pandemics, and professional relationships. On and on. We cannot play our game of life with the control even of a chess player. So how are we to be okay with having no control in a situation – in situations? Inevitably, we will need to determine how to respond to each challenge or negative occurrence. Are we flexible? Or demanding? A team player? Or loud and bossy? Overcoming isn’t always easy, but it is possible.
Things in Life We Can’t Control
- Events fail – Even the most carefully planned events fail. Turbulent weather sends many events indoors, if not causing complete cancellation. Events are rescheduled. A delayed plane departure and we miss an important event. The Covid shutdown caused our family wedding to be forced to uninvite 75% of the guests a week prior to the wedding due to restraints put upon the venue. Disappointments. It is normal to be upset. How we eventually react to the inevitable identifies what level of an overcomer we are.
- For many of us who have learned to juggle a myriad of happenings, we may have developed into a “control person” without that being our intent. With the “somebody has to do it” mindset of many a busy and productive person, we may have slipped into being that control person – a person that others may find offensive. With success after success, we may now react harshly when we find our control slipping even in an event planning. And surely in a relationship going south.
- We are fixers. We have fixed everything in the past, and now we find we cannot fix a major loss by death, broken vows, distance, or choice. However, we can still control how much we allow a situation to control us. And ultimately, we can accept the situation, and let it go. Easier said than done.
- In the untimely death of one we love, we want to play the end scenario over and over, thinking, hoping to change the outcome. Dealing with the loss, the grief, and perhaps, with some counseling, we may gradually “let it go”, accept the inevitable, cry out to God to show us the next steps to take, and gradually adjust to the different life story than what we had written.
I John 4:4 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome; because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.”
What a great promise is given in the Bible, the Word of God, to those who trust God and let go of their disappointments, anxieties, and fear, letting him help them through the difficult times as well as the joys.
Queen Elizabeth II recently said, “Throughout my life, the message and teachings of Christ have been my guide and in them I find Hope.”
The sooner we learn that many are the circumstances and relationships over which we have little control, and the sooner we learn to identify what things we do have the capacity to control, the sooner we acknowledge our position, our purpose, and our responsibility to recoup the losses and replant the roses.
What Can You and I Control
Rather than feeling as if we are just to be tossed about like a thistle in the wind for the remainder of our lives, we must quickly determine that we are to be overcomers. What tools do we need to be an overcomer in the midst of inevitable turmoil in life? Let’s look in the bag of tools afforded us:
1. Faith – even in the deepest loss, know that God is there with you. Reach out, trust him, find comfort in him, and he will see you through. Even on my darkest days of sorrow, I have somehow known His presence and that I was not alone. Watch for the doors that will be opened for you. Seek to grow your faith.
2.Discernment – the ability to realize that we cannot control every situation and/or other people. Discernment will allow us to determine the facts and understand just how much this situation is controlling you. Some may go into a deep depression. Others reach for drugs and alcohol. Some withdraw and run away. However, with the strength within you, and your faith in God, you will ultimately determine your reaction to this upheaval in your life and plans. And you will be stronger as you rebuild that area of your life. Be an overcomer.
3. Resilience – the art of bouncing back, accepting pain and loss, and emerging as a better person – full of faith and the joy of spiritual growth. Resilience means working through the pain, suffering and disappointment, anger, grief, anxiety, and utter loss of control. It means recovery – the ability to adapt well and recover quickly after stress, adversity, trauma, or tragedy. The overcomer has become resilient. See Actions of People Who Become Resilient.
Hope comes into the darkness. As we conclude that we cannot control the people or the situation causing the turmoil in our lives, we look for a way on to something else. The human spirit is endowed with hope in every situation. Hope that gives us the strength to take the necessary steps toward recovery. Hope that has the power to show us a break in the clouds. Perhaps in observing how well someone else has weathered a similar storm. Perhaps in having someone come alongside us to encourage and point us to Hope. Perhaps in the ultimate discovery of the truth: Our Hope is Jesus. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27.
In retrospect, I acknowledge that I have lived through so many life situations in which I found I did not want to be in control. I had no way of knowing the outcomes. I knew not the dangers nor which road was safe. I want Jesus at the wheel. I pray that I will give my life over to him daily so that I do not miss the wonders, the blessings, that are intended for me.
And I pray for wisdom to know which door to open, when to shut my mouth, when to hug a stranger, all the while thanking God that I can give control to him – even when I don’t see clarity of the way or gold at the end of the rainbow.
Observing how others have handled severe losses in jobs or relationships can help us model our recovery. We were not meant to be alone. A trusted friend helps us through the troubled waters. A wise friend helps us center our traverse of the trying times.
Someone needs you to encourage them. To share in Group Bible Study. To serve the needy. All of your talents, energies, and ideas can be used to lighten the load for someone in pain or to offer camaraderie to the lonely. Can we be strong leaders and encouragers without being control freaks? Yes, I think it is very possible. It is very needed. You are loved.