Updated: Jun 4
Were you like me in grade school? Did you hear the teacher saying something like “Shawn, you worry about Shawn. Let Robert worry about Robert.”. That used to curl my flanges something awful. I’d already been upset about what that other kid had done. And now, on top of my being offended by that child, the teacher was trying to tell me we weren’t going to control him. I only accepted that philosophy because if I didn’t I would get into trouble myself. Judging by the looks on the other kids faces when the teacher would tell them the same thing, I think they felt the same anger.
And guess what; if no one teaches a child to turn that self focus into self discipline, the idea that a person has the right to control everything else will cary into adulthood. And while there are some big examples of this wrong doing everywhere, it also happens on a small scale in our personal lives.
Whether they know it or not, everyone I know tries to gain some form of unreasonable control. It may not be as obvious with some as it is with others, but the habit is there.
It’s been me; me... I’ve been a control freak. And if I wasn’t sure it would help others, I’d be too embarrassed to share it. But sharing it; that's part of the healing of my mind and heart; not just because it helps me pick it apart, but because this is what a Christian should do and it helps me grow toward God. We’re supposed to sacrifice not only the flesh, but also the reputation. I’m not here on Earth to win a popularity contest. I’m here to help bring as many brothers and sisters home as I can. So here goes; as with my article Porn is Okay, Right?, here’s another piece of myself laid out in public…
I haven’t just been a control freak, I’ve spent my life surrounded by them. This says a lot to me about the state of the world. But because we speak life into our realities, that world starts right here inside my own self. To know the world as I need to; to do my job, I have to know myself first. In other words; partly for the purpose of knowing other people, I spend a lot of time examining my own behavior. And in the context of control, I’ve found one simple reason I’ve been striving for an unrealistic amount of it. I haven’t had what I felt was enough in my own life. And because a broken world produces broken lives; and because I see the same behavior in others, I know the attempt at over-control is everywhere.
While examining my own excessive need to control I’ve found this: that the difference between myself and other control freaks is not that I attempt unfair control and they don’t (as many would claim). The actual, main differences are two things:
I am aware of my unreasonable attempts to control what’s around me, and most people aren’t aware that the same problem exists in them,
Many other people justify their desire and actions for control. I do not.
How bad is the world’s control freak problem?
Weapons, drugs, altering history in school lessons, stalking, commercials, modified foods, over-produced music, sabotage, vandalism, cliques, slavery, slander, corrupt law enforcement and watchdog groups, child abuse, electronic surveillance…
Need I continue? Like the news channels, I could go on all day.
Why do we over control?
As I said before, it comes from living in a broken world. And there are two main parts of this that I am aware of:
We’re programmed by misinformation; it tells us we can control our way in or out of what feels right or wrong for us. We’re often taught that things like money, physical strength, legal rank, job or social status give us a quick way into places we shouldn’t be, or out of consequences we should have. See my video, Self Discipline vs Punishment.
We often don’t actually have enough reasonable control in our own lives, as the world and the enemy try to rip it away.
One of our human (probably even spiritual) modules is the psychological and emotional need for control. That module begs for it no matter what the reason for its lacking. So, usually without knowing it, we engage in behaviors that make us feel like we’re making up for the lack of control. Revenge, substance abuse, theft, hacking, aggressiveness, harassment; just a few examples of how we often go out of our way to gain control.
The good news about the control freak issue
Logic; it’s a powerful thing. And once we learn that over-controlling one thing will never give us control of another, the logic clearly states that being a control freak is useless.
There’s another piece of good news; that God has his plans and when we put him first and follow His rules, He also has our backs. God has the bird’s eye view of the situation that we don’t have. So while it’s unfair that the world and the enemy rob us of control, taking a leap of faith and putting God first allows Him to bring enough back to keep us afloat.
How to break the control freak.
Let me be clear, I don’t mean you should break someone else’s behavior. That would mean you would be, well, trying to over-control someone else. And frankly it either intentionally or unintentionally puts us in the "bully" category.
We simply can’t control each other and trying to do so goes against God’s system; hence the term “free will” (his concept, not mine). I’ve personally seen it many times; a person or a group of people trying to control another. It always ends badly for the one(s) trying to gain control, and at times I've even seen it end in murder and/or suicide. I've have even tried unreasonable control myself.
When we try to control more than we can, we end up spinning our wheels until something breaks. And those who don’t let go after it’s been made clear that they can’t gain control; they end up with serious problems, both internal and external.
What I mean by “break the control freak” is this; the only over-controlling behavior you can control is within yourself.
I don’t dismiss the ridiculous amounts of unfair influence the world sets on upon us. The lion is always on the prowl; always shoving temptation, false information and emotional influence down our throats. So I always allow some understanding and empathy over why people behave wrongfully. But in the end, as individuals we are all ultimately responsible for how we react to that lion and his shoving. Therefore, in the context of control, we have to check and balance ourselves. Then we let God’s genius system take care of the rest.
I'm not saying...
I'm not saying let the murderers run around killing until they decide to stop. Where the line is drawn is a complicated issue, so I'm not going to add 20 minutes of reading time for that... yet. I'm just saying we often take our attempts at control too far. Once things like vengeance, slander, arrogance and ego take part; the situation goes from making a safer society, to an excessive need for personal control.
The unstoppable facts about over-controlling
No matter how hard it is to give up the attempt at controlling situations and people that surround us; there’s one cold, hard, logical fact. Controlling everything and everyone simply never works. It may bring temporary relief, but in the end, it unbalances our natural systems of consequence. And honestly, the behavior of trying to control others exposes us as people who believe that our plans are greater than God’s. It implies that the universe centers around the one attempting the control.
So remember; you may be able to guide a situation, but the only one who is actually in control is God. Therefore your best route to success is to put God first, follow the ways of His Son, ask for what you need and let Him sort it out.
Links mentioned above
Porn is Okay, Right? (article) - In this life it can be incredibly difficult to find pleasure; and in the same way we struggle to balance control, we struggle to balance joy. Sometimes we go so far that we use others to make up for what we lack.
Self Discipline vs Punishment (video) - Peer pressure, the promise of freedom from consequence, knowing what's right and wrong; what do you control within yourself and why?
Being a Conduit (article)
God's Webs (Crayon Web) (91 Second Video)
The article and video above are about God having the bird's eye view. Amazing things happen when we let Him control where the resources go.
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