Confessions of a Former Control Freak

November 14, 2022

I am a control freak! I was that mom who would fix her child’s preschool crafts to make them look better. The problem is, as life went on and my kids grew, I found that things became impossible to control. So what does a control freak who can’t control a situation do? She worries. Worry became a “little friend” that I turned to in hopes of somehow controlling out-of-control circumstances. Worry is a form of (useless) control.

The thing is, (duh!) worrying doesn’t change anything. I know you know this. I know this! Yet, repeatedly, I try to control a situation by worrying. It kind of reminds me of when my son used to wrestle. There was no way I could go down to the mat and tell my son what to do. (Like I knew anyway!) But I would sit in the stands and lean to the left, and then lean to the right, somehow hoping my movement would help my son. So when a significant trial came into my life, I did what I always did in a situation I couldn’t control—I turned to worry. And do you know what happened? I developed a cough. A pain in my side. A rash on my face. And it began to destroy my relationships. My little friend “worry” was no friend at all. So not only did worrying not change the outcome of my situation, but it also began to destroy me, because anything we trust in other than God will destroy us.

I wish I could say I now live a worry-free life; I don’t. But here are some things I have learned along the way that help me to surrender my perceived control to God, who already is in control.

  1. Know God and His promises. We trust those we know. In his book Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges says that anxiety or worry is really a “distrust of God.” Arm yourself with verses in the Bible that speak of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Review God’s faithfulness to his people. Remember who he is… remind yourself that he is good and what he ordains is for our good and his glory.
  2. Ask God to help you. When worry knocks on the door of your mind, cry out to God for help. It seems obvious. But God hears our prayers and wants us to run to him.
  3. Involve the people in your life. My husband and friends are very familiar with what I carry on my heart. They bring me truth and encourage my soul. Find a good friend or two to text or call when you can’t get free of worry’s grip.
  4. Read good books. During a very difficult year, I read over 40 books. Some books were specifically about anxiety, but others spoke of God’s character and faithfulness. If you need one, start with Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest by Edward Welch. It’s excellent!
  5. Practice now by surrendering “little” worries to God. Trusting God instead of worrying is a discipline of the mind. Every day there are little things we worry about. Practice taking your thoughts captive in the “mundane” cares of your heart. Strengthen the muscle of trusting God and believing in his character and faithfulness.
  6. Don’t befriend worry. Recognize when you are turning to worry for “comfort.” It gives you a false feeling that you are doing something when, in fact, it’s out to control you. Rebuke it. And consciously turn to God and his promises.

I don’t want to take pride in the fact that I’m a control freak. It’s not something to be proud of. Instead, I want to be known as a woman who trusts God. A surrenderer. One who relinquishes all of my cares to the Lord. My friend Laura Adams always said, “I know that Jesus loves me!” How could I not trust the One who took care of my biggest problem on the cross?”

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

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