Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fear, Control, and the Art of Delegation

Well, it looks like spring may actually be here. It's going to be almost 60 degrees today! I'm excited about that. This winter has been brutal, and I am ready for it to be over. I'm ready to get rid of anything that reminds me of winter, including my now overgrown, winter hair-do. That's right chicas, I have a hair appointment tonight, and I am thrilled. And, if you have had to sit near me recently, I know you are thrilled too. I admit it. My hair has been looking a little scary these days. Kind of like a cross between a skunk and Sasquatch. See, I told you. Scary. Very scary.

Anyway, if you know me well, you know that I change my hair, including its color, approximately once every three months. When someone asks me why I do that, I generally respond with something like, "Because it is one of the few things in my life I can control."

Ah, control. There's a concept. And, once again, it is no surprise to those who know me well, I like to be in control. I mean, generally speaking, my attitude is usually, "Let me do it. Because if you're going to do it, I'm just going to have to do it again anyway." Because, obviously, I am the only person in the whole world who can do it right. ( e.g. when I want it done and exactly how I want it done.)

Over the years, many people have benefited from this attitude. For example, when I had to do group projects in school, people clamored to be in my group. Why? Hello, because I'm so cool. OK, or maybe because I would do all the work. After all, they might mess something up, and my GPA might suffer. Unfortunately, however, this attitude didn't stop when I got out of school. Oh, no. What about W.'s school projects? After all, if I didn't spend hours "helping" him write his one paragraph, fourth grade English papers, making sure that there were no grammatical errors (split infinitives are our enemy), wouldn't that reflect poorly on my parenting ability?

If you would have asked me then, I would have told you that the only person who didn't benefit from my attitude was myself. After all, I was the one who was doing ALL the work. After all, I was the martyr. What I didn't realize then, and what I still don't always realize now, is that while I was correct, I was not benefiting from this attitude, deep down, I sure thought I was. I mean, I was "in control," right? And, isn't that exactly what I wanted?

Unfortunately for me, and for those who live with me, I still haven't completely learned my lesson. I am, with God's help, however, making some progress. For example, recently He has been showing me why I feel the need to always be in control. For me, it comes down to two things: fear and pride. Ultimately, I am afraid that everyone else will let me down. I fear that the only person I can count on is myself. If I don't look out for myself, no one else is going to. But, for me, there is more to it than just fear. My pride also craves control. I want everything to be done, and I want it done as perfectly as it can be. I don't want anything to reflect poorly on me. After all, I need to have it all together, or at least look like I do, don't I? (Yes, I know how silly that sounds, and, yes, I know how ridiculous those thoughts are, but that somehow doesn't stop me from having those thoughts. Delusional, I know.)

I really am in a season right now where I feel completely out of control. And, the more I try to "take control" of any given situation, the more out of control I feel. Right now, I feel out of control in just about every area of my life. And, for someone who needs to be in control, let's just say, that's not pleasant. It's kind of like having a permanent anxiety attack.

And, it's not just me. It seems that my prayer list keeps getting longer and longer these days. All around me, I see people who are in pain, people who are struggling, people who aren't in control of things going on in their lives. I find myself asking God, "why?" Why can't these women I know, or in some cases women I wish I knew, be free from these struggles? Why can't they just be in control of their lives so that everything can be exactly the way the want it to be? Why can't they be free from heartache and pain? And, why can't I have a magic wand to waive over my life and their lives? I mean, I would say bippity-boppity-boo and make everything better. I really would .

So, as I was whining to God about all of this, I felt Him ask me a question. I felt Him ask me, "What do you think you are controlling in your life now?" So, I started thinking. Well, my to-do list. I control my to-do list. But, then God reminded me that I neither control what is on my to-do list nor what actually gets accomplished on that list. And, He is right. When I tried to take control of my to-do list at work last week, I ended up leaving work early two days because W. got sick. So, I tried to think of something else I control in my life. My child, nope. My family members, nope. (Well, maybe George, but shh, don't tell him...) My boss, nope. Other drivers on the road, definitely not. But, come on, there has to be something I control, right?

And, then it hit me: my hair! I control my hair. But, I was shot down there, too. "Really, you control your hair? What do you plan to do to it tonight?" Um, well, good question. Whatever my stylist decides to do to it. She makes all the decisions about my hair. So, I guess she's in control of that, not me. And, as I thought about it, I realized that I do delegate control over my hair to my stylist. I do it because she is the expert when it comes to hair. I do it because I trust her. I do it because I know her. After all, she's been doing my hair for almost a decade.

And, then the light bulb slowly flickered on in my mind. Although Nicki is the one who styles my hair, God put those hairs on my head. He even knows how many there are. So, while Nicki may be my earthly hair expert, God is my heavenly "me" expert. And, while I'm not in control, He is. So, I guess the question is, "Do I trust Him, and do I know Him intimately enough to know His plan is best for me and for those I love?" On an intellectual level, I do know those things, but I have to admit, I'm still a work in progress. It is still is so much easier for me to rush ahead with my plans (you know, just to help Him out) than it is to wait on God. Patience, if you haven't already guessed, is not one of my best character traits. But, I'm trying to be patient, and I'm trying to relinquish my desire for control.
Most of all, however, I'm thankful. I'm thankful that Ephesians 2:10 tells me that I am God's masterpiece, even if I am a work in progress. I'm thankful that God doesn't give up on me no matter how many times I attempt to be in control. I like to think that God's up there in Heaven, sculpting me into something good. I like to think that he is sculpting me into someone who each day is a little more trusting, a little less prideful, and a little closer to Him. And, since God is the master artist, maybe He'll even give me some really great highlights while He's at it. *wink*

1 comment:

Caroline said...

Oh Heather the control thing is such a battle. Thank you for writing to us about this. I have to often say..."lean not on your own understanding caroline". Because time and time again he shows us that He is THE WAY, and HIS WAY is best. I want to plan it all but the reality is his plans are way better and I don't want to miss out on that!!!I must trust and let must let my words be few!!!