If you haven’t yet taking the “Control Girl Quiz“, I invite you to start there. Each Monday, over twelve weeks, 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. (Check out Elizabeth’s powerful story here.) If you’re interested in sharing your story, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control From Seven Women in the Bible
No woman has to be a Control Girl.
Yes, women tend to have a bent toward wanting control, but God offers us another option. Another path. He invites us to a life of surrender. To say, as Jesus did, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
My new book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control From Seven Women in the Bible, is a study of seven Control Girls of the Bible who struggled with control in the same way we do—they pushed for their own agendas, tried to make everything turn out according to their plans, and made everybody miserable in the process.
As we watch God interacting with these Control Girls of the Bible, we gain perspective on our own control struggles. Just like back then, God is in control and we aren’t. He invites us to live accordingly.
Let’s go from Control Girl to Jesus Girl, shall we?