A Message for Control Freaks (& all of us!)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…” (Philippians 4:6)

Have you ever heard someone confess, “I’m a control freak?” My response to that confession is: “Welcome to the human family!” The truth is sometimes we’re all control freaks. Both Jesus and Paul taught that we should not be anxious. That means don’t worry. They both taught us not to worry about the things we cannot control – like the height of our body or the lives of other people.

Speaking as one control freak to another, the thing that really freaks us out is what we cannot control. In what Alcoholics Anonymous call the “Big Book,” there is an illustration with which all of us control freaks can resonate. We think that life is a stage on which we are directing a play. The people in our lives are characters in that play. As play director we give them their scripts and their cues, but when they don’t respond to our direction, our frustration drives us into a bottle or some other addiction.

When I was a college student I had a mentor who wrote a poem with these lines:

You can’t control the weather or rainy days, but you can control the emotional climate that surrounds you. You can’t control the height your head will be from the sidewalk, but you can control the height of the contents of your head.”

After quite a few of those lines his punch line was:

Why worry about the things you cannot control? Accept the responsibility for the things that depend on you.”

Follow the advice of Jesus and Paul and don’t worry about what you can’t control. “…but in everything by prayer and supplication…let your requests be made known to God…”

Dick Woodward, 20 February 2011

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