If you haven’t done so yet, I invite you to Take the Control Girl Quiz! Each Monday, I’ll be unpacking one of the quiz’s twelve questions. Also, on Thursdays, I’ll be telling your stories in a “Control Girl to Jesus Girl” series.

Today, we’re looking at quiz question 1:

Do you struggle with anger? Do you erupt when something doesn’t go your way? Do you lose your cool over small, insignificant interruptions—either disruptions to your afternoon commute or your life trajectory? Do you inwardly (or outwardly) seethe at people who make your life difficult or who disagree with you—even over small things?

Anger is often an indication that we’re trying to control something which isn’t ours to control. We want our plans to unfold without a hitch. We don’t want anything to disrupt our plans–even small, insignificant plans.

Clutching Tightly

Once when my daughter Lindsay was about eighteen months old, my husband and I watched her become extremely frustrated. She was trying to climb up onto the couch to watch her video, but she insisted on clutching all of her crayons while doing so. I don’t know why it was important to her to hold her crayons while sitting on the couch to watch her video, but apparently she had adopted this goal.

Since they were the big, fat kind of crayons, she could just barely tuck all of them into her hands. But inevitably, whenever she tried to maneuver herself up onto the couch, the crayons would pop out of her grasp and scatter to the ground. Down she would go for another attempt, but it was always the same. As she tried to climb up, the crayons would scatter, and she would become even more frustrated. At one point, she got so angry that she ran over and banged her head on the wall!

Ken and I, who were sitting in the same room (trying not to laugh), were amazed that rather than asking us for help, she completely ignored us. It was only when we slipped a few crayons out of the scattered pile without her seeing, that she was able to complete her goal. She sighed with satisfaction, as she sat with “all” of her crayons clutched in her fists, and watched what was left of her video.

Many times, we’re like Lindsay, stubbornly clutching some ideal in our hands. We get angry because life keeps bumping into us, causing our plans and efforts to scatter. Amazingly, instead of going to our Father for help, we ignore Him and keep trying on our own. We get increasingly frustrated and angry. We might not bang our heads on the wall, but we cause a lot of pain and turmoil–both for ourselves and those around us.

An Indicator

For many years I didn’t realize that I had a problem with control, but I did know I had anger issues. I was exploding or getting bent out of shape over ridiculous little things like my husband not putting the glasses in the cupboard correctly, my kids pulling each other’s hair, and the dog throwing up on the carpeting. And these were only the small things I wanted to control!

When anger bubbles to the surface, it can indicate a deeper, underlying craving for control. So I’ve learned to use my anger as a dashboard indicator of something deeper that is happening in my heart. When I feel the anger rising, I ask, “OK, Shannon. What are you trying to control here?” I’m learning to link the two, and consider that when anger is spewing, it’s often fed by a craving for control.

What I Can Control

Ultimately, I have very little control over how everything turns out. I can’t determine what professions my kids choose, my husband’s level of commitment to God, or whether the dog throws up on the carpeting. And if I try to control these things, anger is the obvious result.

But here’s what I can control: me. Instead of trying to clutch into my hands all of the things that are too big for me, I can turn to my Father with my plans, hopes, and dreams. He invites me to sort out my expectations in His presence, and let Him sift out my unrealistic goals for myself.

When I rehearse the lie that I have to take control and make everything turn out right, I will become angry, frustrated, and create tension wherever I turn. But when I remind myself the truth–that God already is in control, I can find satisfied, resting peace.

Are You a Control Girl?

Take the Quiz to find out! Then come check your answers with the “Control Girl Quiz Series”. This series is meant to get you thinking about your own possible struggles with control. As a follow up, I hope you’ll consider my new book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible.

Control Girl to Jesus Girl

Have you checked out the inspiring, real life stories in the “Control Girl to Jesus Girl” series? Come learn from other women who are on the path from Control Girl to Jesus Girl. Learn from their mistakes and take hope from the future

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