I am not in control

The other day, I re-posted a paragraph or two about the differences between a pilgrim and a tourist. It is risky to live as pilgrim - it takes courage and faith and an openness to be led both internally and externally. Ultimately, with such a posture, the path opens to us and we begin to notice: All of Life is Sacred and All of life is Gift.

In my book, unhurryUp! into Easter: A Lenten PilgrimageI share the Pilgrim's credo that my own Franciscan Spiritual Director passed along to me. It has been a valuable, ongoing reminder to me of what is really most important as I walk with God in this life. Over the next few days - as we approach the beginning of Lent, I am going to share some thoughts about each of the five statements in the Pilgrim's credo. If you'd like to lean into this more, I humbly ask that you'd consider purchasing my devo in the Kindle store (by clicking the link to the right.)

I am not in control

Bam. Right out of the box...do we really have to start our pilgrim journey with this one? Afterall, I've spent most of my adult life learning how to be in control! People respect me for it! (unless of course, I'm feeling super insecure and begin micro-managing. My husband Stephen probably knows this part of me the best. And, I'm amazed at how he still loves me!)

When I can't control my insides - when they feel chaotic and off-kilter - I often seek to control my environment. Whether it's cleaning, de-cluttering, re-organizing or fixating on getting this one thing just perfect, I know when I ramp up to organize my external world, that I'm often feeling I have no control in my internal world.

Ultimately, control is a wee bit of illusion. And control usually tries to scrape out the speedbumps within our day - when really, the speedbumps are often given to slow us down. It is when we are unhurried we are most open to attentiveness and love. And, sometimes slowing down and being attentive to how out of control I really feel feels, well...downright vulnerable.

It seems to me that control is often just a cover for my own self-protectiveness. Psychologists say that a healthy dose of control is actually one of our three basic, instinctual needs (along with security/comfort and approval/affection). When we were lacking these in our early years, we can make up for it with a vengeance. Being a child relinquished at birth and given up for adoption sorta felt out of control for me (that, friends was a polite way of acknowledging my reality) - even though I don't remember it. I feel much of my life is trying to overcompensate to make sure that doesn't happen again. And how do I do that? You got it: Control.

Control separates. Control isolates. Control gives me the illusion of power and often lets me trespass against God. To say, "I am not in control" ultimately, is to let God be God - and to remind myself that more of life is a gift than it is of my making.

For reFlection - Spend some time with some of these questions:

  • Do I desire to grant everyone’s wishes?
  • Do I believe that “if something is going to be done right I will have to do it myself?”
  • Do I expect myself to always have the answers to questions (about God, life, work, etc.)?
  • Do I think there are things I should be doing much better?
  • What unrealistic expectations do I have of myself? Of others? Of God?
  • Do I make unattainable daily (weekly? Yearly?) check-off lists for myself?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above you (like 99% of the population) have a control issue. Today, won't you gently notice when you slip into one of these places. Use these moments, truly, as a speedbump...to slow you down and to be aware. And in that moment, open your hand and say,

"Lord, thank you for reminding me that you are in control."