Confessions of a Control-Freak

I must confess, I am a control-freak.  My best guess is that this stems from a fairly unstable home life in my early childhood. My parents divorced about the time I was 4 years-old and we lived out of cardboard boxes, moving quite frequently until I was 7 years-old. After two more moves, my brother and I were finally allowed to remain at my grandparents’ house from age eleven until I moved away, after college, at age twenty.

 Though many people have helped me along the way, I was not consistently in the care of trusted adults.  This fact made it necessary to grow up prematurely.  Looking back, I’m sure I wasn’t nearly as mature as I thought I was, but often felt as if my decisions were much better than those of my parents.

 I was the oldest of four, although did not often live with my younger two sisters.  So many times I took it upon myself to set my parents straight, rarely hiding my disgust and disappointment in them.  I was angry and most of all, I just wanted to be loved and protected.  Once when my mother wanted to move my sisters away from Indiana, I made her so angry, we didn’t speak for almost a year.  Not sure if what I said really made the difference, but in my mind it did because she allowed them to stay with my grandmother.  On another occasion, I told my father how wrong he was for ending one relationship and starting another.  I was so relieved that he didn’t insist on us relocating with him when he moved away.  Both of these incidents took place before the age of 12.

 Can you see the pattern forming? If I didn’t like what was going on and had a good basis for my arguments, all I had to do was stand my ground, present my argument, and I was gaining control of my life.  The power to manipulate my world gave me strength and a sense of security.   Innocently, this overlapped into my spiritual life.  In this realm, the difference was that I put all my trust in a God, whom I was introduced to at a very early age.  I prayed prayers, He answered, and my faith increased.  With God, though, I felt His love and compassion and trusted that He was watching over me.  I never felt the urge to demand anything of God.  He was simply my heavenly Father who was taking care of me and filling my voids. 

 Entering into adulthood, I never even realized what sort of person I had become, all I knew is that I had survived my childhood and now life would be easy because I was not having to depend on anyone else and risk being disappointed again.  I had become a control-freak.  Not everything about me was bad.  I was very intelligent, independent, and very dedicated and devoted to God.  I was teaching Sunday School at age 18. Having no youth leader at the time, I helped organize fundraisers to pay the way for myself and nine other young people to go to Kansas City, MO for a youth convention. During this time I attended IU as an emancipated student and worked at NSWC Crane, a local naval base, on my breaks from school.  

 One summer, though, God began to deal with my heart and now I can see it was the beginning of His plan to help mold me into a person that He could use.  Until the summer I met my husband at church camp, my spiritual life was not always consistent.  I lived for God, because I knew it was right, but often struggled with my attachments to things that did not involve God, including a boyfriend that did not share my religious beliefs.  After several failed attempts to break off this relationship completely, I went to church camp asking God to save him.  The very first night the minister preached a message, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”  I’m not saying that it wasn’t His will for this person to be saved, but it had been clear to me for quite some time that he was not the person that God intended for me to marry. This was the beginning of my molding process.  Thursday night of church camp, I met Eric and here we are 18 years later. 

 Married life, though, did not turn out as I had planned.  Coming from two very chaotic backgrounds, we had a lot to learn in order to maintain a successful marital relationship. Due to my high expectations, I sunk into a very low spot.  I didn’t realize it, but I was angry with God.  I suppose I wanted to tell Him, just as I had told my parents, that He was wrong.  It was almost a year before I even realized that I entered into this state of mind and God’s grace spoke to my heart.  Life as an adult was not as easy as I imagined it would be.  Everything came by hard work and even then sometimes we came up short.  God made the difference though.  Our pastor taught us simple truths like: Put God first and He will supply all your needs, Give to God and He will give back to you, You can’t go wrong by doing right.  My husband and I lived by these truths and saw God provide more than we could have ever hoped for.

 At one point I remember attending church faithfully and living a life dedicated to God.  I was doing all of the right things.  I sacrificed, gave of my time and finances, taught my children the importance of living for God, got up early and had begun a time of daily prayer and Bible reading, was involved in almost every aspect of the church possible and did so very sincerely.  My mistake was in becoming impatient with God.  At one point I remember holding my righteousness up before Him almost demanding Him to answer some very needed prayers.  This began a transformation for me.  In I Corinthians 10:12, it says, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”  God allowed me to find out exactly how powerless I truly was.  Again, God also showed me His grace and mercy.  I have begun to realize that great lessons can be learned when, and sometimes only when, we go through great struggles.  The important thing is to never give up.

 Obviously, my life is not over yet and my story is not finished, but one thing I can say, I am determined more than ever to stay close to God.  I want to always be able to hear His voice, allow Him to direct my steps, and become someone that can bless the lives of others.  Heaven is my destination and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” (Original author unknown, but my grandmother and her mother quoted this often)

Control-Freak Prayer

(Commonly known as the Serenity Prayer)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

-Reinhold Neibuhr

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