Have you ever needed to hear a message that you had absolutely no interest in hearing? I mean, you affirmatively try to avoid hearing what you don’t want to hear. Then the world conspires against you and at every turn you hear the message you are avoiding?
This happened to me this past week. I had an emotional week. So emotional that I really only shared what was going on with one girlfriend. A girlfriend that doesn’t let me get away with much. She supports me but also calls me on the carpet when it’s needed. And she sent me this message: “I wish I could be that friend, like you are to me, that is so kind and gentle. I don’t like that I have to be the one who delivers these hard messages. But I have to. The Lord gave me one just for you and I have to share it because I love you SO much.”
She went on to share the really divine message that I avoided (I actually wrote her back to say, thanks, but I am nowhere near ready to hear this and be in this place), and she closed with this:
Stop fighting what the Lord wants to do in you. ..Submit yourself to the Lord’s power and stop trying to solve this problem yourself. JESUS LOVES YOU and He wants to show you, once again, just how much. Let Him…My heart hurts so much that you have to go through this, but I know, for the joy set before you, you can do it.
Then she wrote a great blog post about Being Right May Be Wrong that said, “It isn’t that I choose the wrong on purpose – I just am so busy being right, knowing it and doing it, that I blow right past Christ. I know what is best for my husband, children, family and friends. I make decisions every day based on what feels right. But in the end, even if the way I choose seems right, if I’m not following Jesus lead, it isn’t.”
Then I read this little post on Lysa Terkeurst’s facebook page:
Here’s where my head wants to go when I start examining certain conflicts: “But what if it really isn’t my fault? It’s not fair to assign the blame to me when this person did this and this and this.” But that’s the wrong direction to head in. Don’t try to assign the blame. Just own the part you brought into the conflict. When I approach a conflict with a heart of humility, I’ve yet to see where I haven’t added something to the issue.
On the exact same day, Ann Voskamp featured a post by Mark Buchanan on her blog called When You May or May Not Be a Control Freak. Let me start by saying that I know I’m a control freak. Less of one today than I was before the triplets, but nonetheless still fully wanting to manage things. I’m sure there’s lots of brilliant psychological reasons someone could give you based on the turmoil I had growing up, but I’m an adult now and could change if I would actually let God work on this area of my life (but I don’t want to relinquish control, ahem).
Buchanan describes a scene between an out of control toddler and his in control mother, and then shares this wisdom:
But most of us, by age 19 or so, have an epiphany of sorts: that the louder we shout, the less others listen. That the more we manipulate, the further others back away. That the more we toss a fit, the more others look at us and think, “What a sad strange little man,” or “What a drama queen.” That’s the epiphany. But what we do with it matters a great deal. It determines whether we really grow up or not. The truly wise become deeply humble. They realize that the only kind of control the Bible endorses – indeed, commands – is self-control. The New Testament has 16 separate exhortations to be self-controlled. It’s a major theme. So the wise heed that, and work with the Holy Spirit to get a grip on themselves. They receive the comfort, the rebuke, the strength, and the instruction of God himself to discipline their thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and actions. They give up trying to control others and step up being in control of themselves. The lovely irony is that the self-controlled exert wide influence. People listen to them. Heed them. Seek them. Follow them. In other words, the self-controlled accomplish the very thing the controlling desperately want but only ever sabotage. Here’s what I’ve learned: Every impulse to seize control – is the Holy Spirit’s invitation to practice self-control. Every nerve jolt to freak out, melt down, start yelling, fly into rage or panic is a divine cue to slow down, breathe deep, start praying, and lean into God. Every instinct to control something is God’s nudge to control myself.
That’s actually not the end of the messaging I received over the past week to grow up. To stop trying to control everything. To stop managing conflict in a way that does nothing more than worsen the conflict. To relinquish control to the only One who can actually restore the situation and bring it to a better place than you were ever in before. So I’m working on it. Slowly. It’s a new week.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.