Why is it so frustrating to not be in control?
If you’re anything like me, the current status of things is a little less desirable than where I would prefer them to be.
And by a little, I mean massively.
My routine day-to-day rhythms have not been earth-shatteringly different than they were before coronavirus. My kids have always been homeschooled, we play outside every day, and we get to see our extended family regularly. I’ve counted my blessings every time I talk to another mom or dad worried about what to do about school, or people separated by social distance from loved ones, or parents (and kids) going bananas living in tiny apartments through all this.
The list of things I need to be grateful for should never have an end because I am immeasurably blessed by the Almighty in this tumultuous season. He has been with us in ways I couldn’t have asked for. He has protected our family, loved ones, and community through this outbreak. He has kept my family safe, sheltered and fed. He has kept our bills paid. He brings new opportunities into our lives constantly to live for Him and not for the world. He is holding our hands through all of it, loving us and reminding us to trust in him.
And yet- I find myself frustrated. Every. Single. Day.
Because I’m not in control.
A New Norm
Because the control that I previously had has been revoked and I want it back. I feel like I need to get it back and that’s the only thing I need to feel “normal” again.
Control is one of the biggest idols that I have (along with the idol of comfort). Control is part of the way I see myself in relation to the world around me. I choose our schedule. I choose where we go, what we do, who we see, when we leave, every day. Now with a bevy of restrictions and regulations to follow, I’m not in control anymore.
Our zoo opened here in Tacoma a few months ago but I haven’t been back since before the virus shut everything down. I want to go- and my kids want to go- but something that was once so enjoyable to visit is now shackled with rules. In order to get into the zoo, you must prepay for tickets online and go at your scheduled time slot. Once you get in, it’s one-way through, the playgrounds are closed, you see the animals and then you exit the zoo.
I’m happy that it’s open for all the kids who love the zoo and need to get outside. But since I can’t go when I feel like getting there, and I can’t control the order of animals we see, and I can’t stay as long as I want (and make the most of the expensive tickets!) I won’t go.
I’m not in control enough to enjoy it. I don’t want to be prodded around by people (who understandably are just doing their job) reminding me to put my facemask on after I take a drink of water, or trying not to cough or sneeze because that would send everyone around me into a panic, or worried about my kids getting to close to other visitors who may or may not be hostile when reminding people to stay six feet back. Ultimately, it’s not about them, it’s about me wanting to spend my time my way. And I can’t.
Nothing in my life has ever taught me more clearly that we all need Jesus. Every day is a fresh reminder that everything, literally everything, is not in my control. And it never was. Every one of us needs the Lord to be the center of our hearts and the ultimate fulfillment of our souls. We need to know that His ways are not our ways and His will is not our will. We need to be conforming our will to His will because while our will is flawed, His is flawless.
My idea of control was and is and always will be an illusion. Not only have I loved my idol and relied on it every day, but I was fulfilled by things going my way, the way I planned them. I felt like I was creating my life and it was empowering. I was at the center. Not the Lord or his will or his plan.
Even if these restrictions and rules are temporary, the world will probably never be the same again. Something has happened in your life and in mine, that we never could have planned for and our perspectives are forever altered because of it. Thankfully He has shown me I was idolizing something that should only be a tool to point me to the One who is ultimately in control. Only now can I see that the Almighty might have something better in store for me, for all of us.
What if I just trusted God?
What if we relied on God the way I rely on being in control of my life? Wouldn’t that be infinitely more fulfilling, doing the work that we were put here to do and knowing it will be especially good because HE is in control?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
When I feel like I’m not in control it reminds me of being the passenger in a car that I’m not driving. I want to be driving and I feel like I could be driving better than whoever is driving. I might get us there faster or safer, I think. But the reality is that I am a created being and I am not equipped to “drive.” I can’t see what is best for me. Only my creator knows this information and praise the Lord that I’m not driving. My perspective is warped by sin and by living in the fallen world. But God’s is perfect. As a follower of Christ I relinquish that duty to Him.
Each time that this experience reminds me that I’m not in control, I need to remember that HE IS in control and then faithfully submit my will and the outcome to Him. And rejoice! What a relief it is to have an all-knowing Heavenly Father loving me right now who I can trust to guide me on my path. I might not know what the path ahead will look like, or how long it is a clearly marked one-way only path that requires face masks and hand sanitizer, but I know that He is always beside me. Leading me. Forever.
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Photo by Benjamin Manley