My kids teach me a lot about control.
“You are not the boss of me,” my 4-year-old retorted back to me as I encouraged him to brush his teeth before school. I “calmly” replied, “Actually, I am. Until you’re 18.”
“No. God is the boss of me. God is the boss of everybody.”
Well, well, well! He wasn’t wrong. I was equal parts proud that he was absorbing something from Sunday School and our parenting, and annoyed that he was trying to pull the oldest trick in the book.
I know very few people who don’t want “control” of their jobs, kids, relationships, etc. As humans, we like to know what is coming. We like to plan, make decisions, choose. We like to “have it all together”. The thing about control is that it is an illusion. My 4-year-old was right. God is in control. He has a plan for each and every one of our lives. It often isn’t what we pictured, but it is our job to fully trust that He is faithful and will take care of us.
Control: A Parents’ Struggle
As a parent I often see myself trying to grasp on to something I can control. With three young kids, I often feel like I am living in complete chaos with very little control of the atmosphere around me. When that happens we start to spiral out of control and allow the negative thoughts to flow in.
We don’t want others to think poorly of us so we try harder. We tighten our grip. And what does that do? It doesn’t help. If anything, it makes things worse. It strains your relationship with your kids. They don’t see us as someone gently guiding or coaching them. They see us like a drill sergeant trying to dictate their every move. It pushes them away and their behavior is not better.
When we look at God as our Father, we can see His parenting style and use it as a guide for our own parenting choices. Is God a drill sergeant not letting us out of our chairs until we eat every gag-worthy lima bean? No. Is God standing over us wagging his finger because we had yet another emotional meltdown in the middle of Target? No. God is that still small voice in the back of our head. He is gentle, compassionate, and empathetic. He is ever so merciful and has grace unending. We fail Him every single day and He never leaves us. He stands beside us and helps us find our way. I don’t know about you, but that is the kind of parent, spouse, and co-worker I want to be.
Whose Story Is It?
I have read that we have to remember we are each living our own story. Our kids have their own perspectives and thoughts. They are living their stories just as we are living ours. Before we get upset and yell at them for not doing something they were supposed to do, we need to think about their story. Are we mad because we have 2 minutes to get to school and they are still looking for their lost shoe? Before we fly off the handle, where are we coming from? We don’t want to be late because we will look bad. But that’s our story, not theirs. They just really want that favorite pair of shoes because it makes them happy and secure. We can take a step back and see their story and gently guide them in the right direction.
God has His story for us. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) He doesn’t take away our free will, but He allows us to have our own story. When we go off His path He doesn’t tighten the reins of control, yet He gently guides us back. It is our job to relinquish control and trust Him. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
When we open our hearts to His way we allow peace to fill us up. And trust me, it feels a lot better than trying to hold on to the tug-of-war rope of control with all our might.