Lately, our world seems completely out of control. When I focus on all the chaos, I worry about our economy, about loved ones, about my daughter and son-in-laws college classes … in short, about a lot. But then I remember truth, and that truth grounds mean. If you find your thoughts pinging in a thousand different directions and your heart longing for control, I hope my friend Melanie Redd’s post below encourages you.
Letting Go of the Need to Control
It’s true… I really hate being the passenger in any car.
When my husband and I first got married, he was usually the one to drive. This was a change for me. I’d not ridden as a passenger as much since I was a child.
This was when I realized that I liked being the driver more than the passenger.
Later, as our children began to learn to drive, I really struggled with not being in the driver’s seat. (If only the passenger seat had a steering wheel and brakes!)
In the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to ride along with several friends and family members as they’ve driven us places. Once again, I’ve struggled with allowing others to drive while I helplessly watch from the back seat or the passenger side.
What is my hang-up with being a passenger?
Why does this bother me so much?
Because I like being in control of the car. Truly, I want to be the one to steer the car, pump the brakes, determine the speed, and control the trajectory of the vehicle.
And, if I’m being honest, my desire to be in control goes well beyond driving. I like to be in control of everything in my life. Maybe you do as well?
The older I get, however, the more I realize that absolute control is impossible. In fact, if we try to carefully control every single detail of our lives, we can go quite crazy!
So, what can we do with control issues?
How can we more reasonably and wisely live with things we cannot control?
I’ve found great comfort in the words of a prayer that hung on the wall in my grandmother’s house – beautifully needlepointed.
It’s called the Serenity Prayer, and it reads like this:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Yes. This prayer is used in AA meetings around the world.
But it applies to all of us. Indeed, all of God’s children like to feel like they have some control in their lives.
To assist us, let’s break down this prayer into three sections:
First, we can ask God to give us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change.
Serenity is an old-fashioned work for peace, calm, tranquility.
It’s a sense of well-being about our lives. To be serene is to keep your composure when things feel out of control.
What are some of the things you and I cannot change?
- Other people
- Our bosses
- The weather
- Our pastor
- Our children
- Our spouse
- The past
- The future
- So many more things
Once we realize that only God can truly change hearts, we will quit trying to fix, change, and coerce the people and circumstances around us.
There is sweet freedom in letting go of the need to control everyone and everything! Sweet freedom.
One of my favorite authors, Amy Carmichael, explained it this way. “In acceptance, lies peace.”
Second, we ask God to give us the courage to change the things we can.
Joshua 1:9 encourages us, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (ESV)
And, courage is a choice. It is a willful action on our part.
What can we change and control in our own lives?
- Our clothing choices
- What we eat and drink
- What we do
- How we live
- How we respond to others
- How we spend our time
- Whether or not we exercise
- How we relate to God
- What we say
- How we think
- And, so much more
Absolutely, there is so much we can choose to control in our lives.
But we must choose. And, often we must choose with great courage.
Why not ask God to give you the courage to make some life-altering and life-sweetening changes this week?
Third, we can ask God to give us the wisdom to know what we can and cannot change.
This final part of this prayer may be the most difficult. Honestly, it may be at the heart of our control.
Indeed, this may be the hardest part of this whole process.
And, this is where prayer comes in. I think of the words of James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (ESV)
When we don’t know how to proceed in a situation or a relationship, we can pray and ask God to give us wisdom, insight and discernment.
For years I dealt with a close female relative who I wanted to please. I worked like crazy to make her happy. Through gifts, words, phone calls, and actions, I tried to make this person love and accept me.
Finally, one day after praying over this relationship, a very wise friend helped me to realize that I was never going to make this relative change. No matter what I did, she was not capable of becoming the kind of person I hoped she could become.
Accepting that my relative would never change brought such freedom to my life.
Now, I expect nothing from this person. And, I’m able to just love her without any demands. This particular choice has changed everything in our relationship – especially me!
I believe all of us can find freedom in accepting what we cannot change. Truly, in laying down our expectations and demands, we can find great peace.
It’s not an easy thing to do, but it can be incredibly liberating!
What about you?
Are you the kind of person who also likes to be in the driver’s seat?
Do you struggle with control?
How does the Serenity Prayer help you? Which part is most challenging for you to practice?How have you found peace in surrendering control?
Let’s talk about this! Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because can all learn from and encourage one another. If you’re struggling with finding peace and standing on faith in our seemingly out-of-control world, listen to my latest podcast episode Fear of Losing Control: Courage to Surrender with International Speaker Carol Kent. Find it HERE.
Get to Know Melanie
She’s married to Randy for the past 29 years and serving alongside him in ministry.
Additionally, she’s mom to two awesome young adults.
God’s grace never ceases to amaze her.
You can find out more about Melanie & her ministry at www.melanieredd.com.
You can connect with Melanie here:
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