I have been thinking alot about control for the past oh...10 years. I am a first born and while I don't carry all the typical traits of a first born owing to the fact that my second born sister has a much more dominant personality, I do have a few first born quirks and a deep need to control everything is definitely one of them.
I don't like surprises. A simple surprise is OK. I don't like to know what I am getting for Christmas. But on the other hand it does irritate me when I don't get what I really want. So I have learned over the years to be clear, especially with my husband. This year I told him that he could cash in the points he gets filling up his gas tank to get a gift card to a store that sells something I would like as a gift to me that costs no money. I might have wanted him to come up with that idea on his own and surprise me but he wouldn't have so why suffer through the disappointment? I just told him.
What is hard as a first born control freak is realizing that there are things I cannot control. My first big lesson in this came when I could not control pregnancy. We spend a lot of money on birth control because we think we are in control but when it doesn't happen as we plan, or does happen when we don't plan as is the case for some, we realize how little control we really have in that area of our life.
One thing I have come to learn in my many years of life is that the number one thing you cannot control is other people. Once again we can have perceived control over another person. We might think we are in control of our children or maybe we have an employee that we think we control from 9-5. But when it all hits the fan, when that kid decides to throw the tantrum of his life while standing in line at the grocery store or that employee quits in the middle of a big project we realize we cannot control people.
I might want to control people who don't appear to be under my control. I want to control my spouse when we are making decisions, I want to control friends and family members when I need them for something or simply disagree with what they are doing.
I always think I know best and if people would just realize this and accept that truth we could all move on with our lives much smoother.
But the truth is that we are not in control. I can't control other people, I am not really even in control of my own life. I make my own choices, yes, but God has ultimate control over the outcome. And we aren't called to a life of control but a life of submission. A life of submission to other people but mostly to God.
And while it would be nice if my friends and family would take my advice and avoid adversity, the truth is I have learned and grown the most in the tension of trying to control. Why would I take that gift from someone I love?
When we try to control our lives, the situations we are in and the people around us, we will always be disappointed. But when we place our lives in God's hands and let him take control there we will find true joy.
I can definitely say that my life has not played out the way I would have planned it if I was in charge. But despite some of the trials I am certain the life I am living today brings me greater joy than anything I could have made up myself.
Heb 12:9b "How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!"