Why do we feel like we always need to be in control? What do we get out of making sure things always go our way? I used to want control to the point where I would get anxiety about the future. I would worry that if things didn’t work out the way I planned, that my whole life would fall apart. I’ve learned an important lesson lately, about why this kind of thinking is both unhealthy and impractical, and why surrendering control is the most liberating feeling one can have.
Control Is an Illusion
“… yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14) The truth is, we don’t have control. We can control our actions, and guide our thoughts, but we cannot make our own futures. Sometimes things happen that we do not expect or plan for, and if we hold onto the desire to control, we won’t be able to solve those problems, or handle the disappointments. Surrendering was a scary thing to do, but it brought me a feeling of acceptance at peace, that quickly led to more deep joy than I could’ve ever tried to attain on my own.
God’s Will Is Better than Ours
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) For years, I took matters into my own hands, trying to grasp the things I wanted and thought I needed. I even framed my prayers in a way that essentially asked God to make my will His own. It’s taken me a while but I’ve finally reached this huge milestone in my spiritual life. I realized and accepted that I do not have control over my life, and that’s okay, because God’s plan is better than mine. It will produce more growth in me, grant me wisdom through the challenges I face, and shape me into a person who reflects God’s love. It’s also helped me shed some of my selfishness, which was getting in the way of me serving others.
Loving God Leads to Contentment
“But godliness with contentment is great gain,” (1 Timothy 6:6) Through surrender, God has granted me the desires of my heart in such a short period of time. I cannot even express how perfectly everything I prayed for the last few months are lining up. One thing, after the next.
It didn’t feel this way at first. The first feeling after letting go was an overwhelming hollowness. All the things I tried to gather up and focus my life on, I let go of. And in the place of all of that was emptiness, and my own inadequacy to fulfill myself. All my plans vanished. All the visions of my future became blurry. It felt like there was nothing ahead for me to grasp on that I could be sure of. I willingly have up my will so that I could be led by God, but was still scared about my future.
But sure enough, God broke through that vision and redirected me to a different path for my life. He provided opportunity after opportunity, and allowed me to have many of the things I had been desiring in my heart: stability, adventure, a clean slate, forgiveness, peace with the past, hope for the future, love, security, encouragement…
God Will Give You a New Way to Use Your Gifts
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” (1 Peter 4:10) All through my life I’ve wanted to love people. Sometimes I feel like that’s my purpose and calling in life: to encourage, help, support, love, sacrifice, and give to someone else. Changing my approach to certain things in my personal life also took away some of that “work” I was doing. I felt useless, purposeless, and hollow. I didn’t like being by myself. I wanted someone or something to devote my attention, love, and efforts to. So, I went to the only places that I knew would give me that opportunity in a safe way, where my efforts would grow in someone else’s heart.
I spent a lot of time alone, meditating, praying, refocusing. Shedding my old ways of thinking and spending quality time with God. I started thinking of ways I could serve the church and really dug into the problems with myself that I had to grow out of. So, in that seemingly empty space, I began to see God create a new plan for me that would still allow me to use my gifts. He directed my attention to people who needed love, so I could keep serving. He filled me with a renewed hope for my future, peace in my present circumstances, and more genuine love began to grow within my heart. Selfless love. I wanted to give love even if I got nothing in return. And then my prayers started to be answered.
God Reveals Himself if You Take the Time to Look
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Some people say, “You can’t know that God exists because you can’t see Him.” I may not be able to see Him physically with my eyes but I can clearly see His work in my life. Looking at where I am now is absolutely mind-blowing, considering where I was mentally, and emotionally a few months ago. There is no way I could’ve ever reached this point through my own efforts. I’ll be the first to admit that. I’m not wise enough, strong enough, or insightful enough to do this alone.
Surrendering Seems Reckless, but Actually Brings You Peace
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) Surrendering to God and waiting for Him to move gave me the peace I needed to fully trust Him with the direction of my life and my future. That actually healed me of my anxiety. It’s surreal. Secondly, surrendering to God taught me patience. Yes, I’m excited about my future. Yes, I don’t want to sit around and waste any time. Yes, I wanna DO things with my life, go on adventures, make a positive impact, and give with all my heart. But I’m learning how to wait for the right way, time, people, and places, with every decision. I’m learning to go through every decision with prayer at the beginning, through the middle, and at the end in gratitude for whatever the outcome.
While We Wait, God Works
“From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides You, who acts for those who wait for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4) I believe that while we wait, God works behind the scenes, carefully moving and setting things into motion that we cannot imagine or see. I wish I could shout from the mountaintops in gratitude for how God has always had my back despite all my poor decisions and disobedience. I have experienced that God is real, that He loves us and watches over us, and if we take the time and effort to devote our lives to Him, and ask, seek, and knock, wisdom will come to us. Everything in our lives is going to be so much better than anything we could’ve tried to make happen on our own, when we trust and follow Him.
“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honour.”