October 22, 2008

I’ve been thinking an awful lot about the issue of control over the last few days, maybe because undergoing surgery is in many ways such a loss of control. And maybe because I’ve always been called by others something of a control freak. What? Moi?

Oh yeah.

But this morning as I was vacuuming (all great thoughts come to me in the car at night or when I’m cleaning my house), I figured something out about control. Now, the rest of you probably had this figured out eons ago, but I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes, so hang in there with me.

See, there’s things in life that we really really want to control, but we can’t: our health (yes, of course we can control this to an extent, but ultimately? Not really.), our children’s futures, the happiness of those we love, our net worth, traffic, etc. I just found out that an old friend of mine has a daughter fighting off a deadly disease (and winning, I might add!). I’m absolutely positive that if my friend could have controlled the situation to spare her daughter the pain and fear, she would have done anything. Anything. But of course she couldn’t, as none of us could, if placed in the same situation.

But what I’m beginning to get a glimmer of here: there are, in fact, many things we can control in this life, even if doing so is a major challenge. We can control our responses to situations. Wow, I hate that. I would much rather wallow in self-pity than be responsible for my own attitude.  We can control whether or not we choose obedience to God, compassion, kindness.  We can control whether we keep trying in rotten situations, through depression and sometimes despair.  We can still keep trying.

But I would much rather control everything on the front end.  I would much rather drive than sit in the passenger seat and react.  Yet, it’s just not feasible, not realistic, and truly, trying to control all the variables of life makes me nuts.

I always hate those platitudes like, “Let go, let God,” and I think I’ve figured out why.  Yes, we do have to let go of the steering wheel.  We become more sane when we realize that trying to control circumstances is like playing with a paper steering wheel while sitting in the passenger seat of a car.  Sure, we can turn and turn and turn the wheel, but it won’t change anything.  But “letting God” is no passive deal either.  Being responsible for ourselves and to God and to those we love — that’s HARD.  It takes more work than I sometimes think I can manage, and frankly?  I don’t enjoy it all that much.

But I think — I think, mind you — that somewhere here is the key to contentment.  Letting God do God’s part and forcing myself (at least at times) to stop spinning my wheels and to have enough self-control to react how God would have me.  My friend and her daughter, really their whole family — they’ve been dealt the kind of crummy cards that would stagger any of us.  But I see them living in thankfulness, finding joy in their love for one another.  Even in a situation they can’t control for a damn.  I want to be like that when I grow up.


6 Responses to “Control”

  1. Beth said

    Hey, I aim to please. Get the word out.

  2. I will get the word out that you “aim to please.”

  3. Beth said

    How is it that you can make anything seem somehow dirty? Is it your special gift?

  4. Actually my special gift is the ability to hum and whistle at the same time.

    Gallows humor is another special gift.

    Good blog post, by the way. Sorry to be so glib — that’s actually another one of my gifts I keep trying to return…

  5. Beth said

    I’m particularly fond of (and good at I might add) gallows humor. It has helped sustain me more than once.

    And glibness — ah, I kinda like it. Don’t go changin’…

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