Pearl’s Co-Parenting Surrender Story

In this “Control Girl to Jesus Girl Series”, I’m sharing stories of women who are on the path from Control Girl to Jesus Girl. Like me, these women would not say that they’ve arrived. They can’t claim to be perfectly Christ-like. But they are heading in a new direction.

I’m welcoming Pearl Allard, from “Look Up, Sometimes“, as our guest blogger today. Here’s Pearl’s story:

As I’ve read the other stories in this series–stories about surrender when the stakes were so high, I’ve wondered does my little story have significance?

“Big arrow” experiences, as Shannon discusses toward the end of Control Girl, stand on their own. Yielding to the Spirit’s leading (or “arrows”) when we’re asked to sacrifice something big–like when we’re asked to change courses in a relationship, give up a dream or career path, or lay something we desperately love on the altar–makes for a dramatic experience. These painful moments are etched into our memories and our timelines forever. In these instances, surrender produces big change and obvious course correction.

But what about the “small arrows”?

My Small Arrow Story

If, like me, you are tempted to have a dismissive attitude about the work God is doing in your life simply because it’s rather mundane, brake hard. Shannon states her belief that small arrows are even more transformational  because “…if I only give God control of the indefinite future and never the next five minutes, I won’t be transformed.” Waging war by choosing God’s way over my own in myriad small, everyday ways has a massive, cumulative effect.

My story is a “small arrow” story. It’s one of a bazillion ordinary moments of my life that became significant because I chose to surrender. (After some figurative kicking and whisper screaming, as you’ll see!)

Seeing it Differently

I didn’t particularly consider myself a control freak, but Control Girl opened my eyes to how I let good desires – like wanting my daughter to become a Jesus Girl – warp into an anxious and angry mama grasping for control for the happy ending I envisioned.

It all started when I instructed our 6-year old daughter, Zoe, to do a job. She muttered something snotty under her breath and just sat there.

My husband, Paul, witnessed Zoe’s reaction, so he reinforced the instructions. Zoe rolled her eyes, arms crossed, let forth a flood of whiny complaints, and stomped down the hallway still mouthing off. Six going on sixteen?

It was bad enough she disobeyed me, but I was livid at her disrespect toward her father. I started lecturing Zoe the second she returned, bent on turning her into a Jesus Girl if it was the last thing I did!

Apparently, the husband did not share my concern. He lounged on the couch like nothing was wrong. Didn’t he realize he’d been disrespected? Didn’t he want his daughter to respect authority? Didn’t he see the need to mete out justice? I was about to retrieve the wooden ruler, which we keep for times like this, when something stopped me. Was it right to punish my daughter for her offense against her father when her father was present and able to do it himself? Should I appeal to my husband first?

“Can I have a private conference with you – right now!” I hissed. Paul looked up startled.

As soon as our bedroom door clicked, I flew off the handle questioning his ability to handle his daughter’s disrespect. I kept the screaming to a whisper so the kids wouldn’t hear.

“I handled it. I told her go do it, and she did,” Paul said.

This wasn’t how the conversation was supposed to go. Didn’t he understand I was thinking about him? Trying to reclaim his honor? And ultimately, wasn’t this an expression of how our daughter thought of her Heavenly Father?

“Don’t we discipline for defiance?” I asked, eyes narrowed. Was the man blind?

Paul’s quiet voice was strained but controlled. “She did what I said. Compliance can’t possibly be defiance. I already handled it.”

I’m sure my hot face must have resembled a contortionist working out in a sauna. I clenched and unclenched my fists. But I couldn’t think of a single thing to say in response. My zealous, heavenly-minded mission had been deflated with one prick of logic.

Finally, I caved. “Ok, you’re right,” I mumbled.

His Clarity

Zoe skittered to her bedroom when Paul and I reentered the living room, no doubt hoping to avoid punishment. I huffed and sank into the couch, feeling defeated. A few minutes later, Zoe shuffled back out and stood in front of her father, now relaxing in the rocking chair, eyes downcast.

“Daddy, I’m sorry I wasn’t nice to you. Do you forgive me?”

You could have heard my jaw thud against the carpet. I was floored. How had Zoe’s heart changed without my intervention?

Then it hit me. Paul had not been blind to our daughter’s disrespect. He had simply endured more of it, for the sake of showing mercy. I had been the blind one. My respect for my husband swelled, and I was humbled realizing he had tolerated not just her disrespect but mine, also.

I recalled Shannon’s words “submission isn’t submission until we disagree.” It was kind of ugly to get to that point. But there was something else. Shannon writes in Chapter 3 “God gives unique clarity and vision to our husbands He doesn’t give to us.”

Until I submit to his leadership. Then I get to see, too.

Small Moves

Each decision I make is a choice to move in a particular direction. In a recent blog post, Shannon wrote “The more consistently I surrender in these moment-by-moment ways, the more my life changes directions. The more I change from a Control Girl into a Jesus Girl.” You and me – that’s what we want!

What “small arrow” course redirection have you undergone?


I first met Pearl, when I spoke at her church, and then she joined me at the Breathe Writer’s Conference. Through our love for writing and Jesus, we’ve become fast friends. Pearl also added her sparkly, sweet personality to my launch team for “Control Girl” this year. She gets the “Most Invested Launchie” award, in large part because of these AMAZING pictures she took of herself and used to promote my book. Isn’t she fun? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Pearl Allard, plain and medium-ish, is happily-mostly-aftered to her hero of thirteen years and is stay-at-home mama to two crazy-wonderful kids in Southwest Michigan. Tired of tip-toeing around the edges of life defined by fear, she invites you along on her journey to experience freedom in Christ. She blogs encouragement to glimpse and embrace God’s grace at Look Up Sometimes.


Are You a Control Girl?

Take the Quiz to find out!

  1. Do you struggle with Anger?
  2. Do you struggle with Anxiety?
  3. Do other control girls irritate you?
  4. Would others say you’re a control girl?
  5. Do they call you the food nazi?
  6. Does your husband feel disrespected by you?
  7. Do your kids think you’re nagging them?
  8. Are you undisciplined?

 

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 they are embarking on:

Share This:

Control Girl to Jesus Girl Series

With the launch of my book, Control Girl, I’ve created a “Control Girl to Jesus Girl” series. The hope is not to stay Control Girls, but to be transformed.

In this series, I’m sharing stories of women who are and have chosen a new path of surrender–one that leads from Control Girl to Jesus Girl. Like me, these women would not say that they’ve arrived. They can’t claim to be perfectly Christ-like. But they are heading in a new direction.

I thought you might like an easy place to find all of these! Here they are, starting with the most recent:

Do you have a Control Girl to Jesus Girl story to share? Contact me using the form below. I’d love to hear from you! While I can’t promise to publish every story, I certainly will take the time to hear yours.

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(Control Girl Quiz) Are you a perfectionist?

If you haven’t done so yet, I invite you to Take the Control Girl Quiz! Over twelve Mondays, 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.

Quiz Question #9:

Are you rigidly perfectionistic? Do you obsess over every calorie, every cent, or every minute spent? Are you a perfectionist with your home, your car, your appearance, or your work? Do you feel peace, only when you have everything under control? Do others think of you as rigid and inflexible?

 

I noticed that she wasn’t eating. She kept pushing the food around on her plate, but she had only taken a couple of tiny bites. I also noticed that our hostess was concerned by this. She kept asking if everything was okay with the food. I cringed when I looked at the proud, superior way this young woman turned her nose up at what had been placed in front of her.

Yes, our plates were loaded with starch and fat. No, there weren’t any fresh vegetables to choose from. And no, this meal wouldn’t help any of us face the scale the next morning.

But if any of us could afford the extra calories, it was her! She had the tiniest waistline of all of us. She obviously also had the strongest determination to stick to her eating plan.

Was her response right and good? Is holding to self-control always a godly response?

Two Responses to Limits

Here’s an excerpt from Control Girl:

I find that, out of my love for control, there are two ways I react to limits. Reaction one is to chafe against the limits and be irritated with them… [We talked about this reaction last time].

Reaction two is putting a stranglehold on the limits in an attempt to achieve total control. Reaction two is all about limits. It’s when I know exactly how many calories I’ve eaten today. Or when I’m stressed out because I only have two hours before bed and four hundred calories yet to burn. It’s when I’m vigilant about taking vitamins, getting enough sleep, and being on time–and angry when I don’t get the results I’m counting on.

So reaction one is when I reject limits out of a love for control.

Reaction two is when I clutch limits out of a love for control.

Are you someone who clutches limits, out of love for control? Sometimes, when other parts of life feel out of control, we turn our focus to the things that we can control–like keeping the house clean or keeping our spending or eating in check. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with being disciplined and orderly, there is something wrong with making that the foundation for our peace and security.

Perfectionism is often our way of controlling what people think of us. We hold up a projected image of perfection like a shield against criticism and judgment. Yet inside that shield often lives a scared and shy girl–terrified by the thought of not measuring up, or having her weaknesses exposed.

Friends, perfectionism is a facade. First of all, it can never truly be achieved. And the closer we get, the more heavy the burden of trying to maintain control. Perfectionism only brings stress, anxiety, and turmoil; not security and peace.

The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians five talks about the fruit (singular) of the Spirit, not the fruits (plural) of the Spirit. So rather than picturing a tree with many fruits, we should imagine one type of fruit with many characteristics–with self-control being one among many.

Do you know any people who are quite self-controlled but are not patient, gentle, and kind? Or who have lots of self-control but no peace and joy?

We need to be careful to differentiate between a self-control that says yes to our own craving for control, and a self-control that yields to the Spirit.

The type of self-control that is born out of keeping in step with the Spirit will have all the characteristics of the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

So in our earlier illustration, the woman who refused the food set before her seemed to practice self-control out of her own craving to have control, not a desire to give control to God. See the difference?

Here are some examples of self-control, produced by the Spirit, not selfishness:

  • Refusing to repeat words that would be hurtful and create division.
  • Denying myself the jeans that are on sale and fit perfectly, because I know my growing kids need new jeans more than I do.
  • Not losing my temper, but instead exercising patience toward my tantrum-throwing child.
  • Eating the food before me, which doesn’t fit neatly inside my diet, out of deference and kindness to my host.

Friends, our control-craving hearts can take even something good–like self-control–and wield it into a control-gathering weapon. But the self-control that comes from the Spirit is all about giving up control to God, not seizing it for ourselves.

 


Are You a Control Girl?

Take the Quiz to find out!

  1. Do you struggle with Anger?
  2. Do you struggle with Anxiety?
  3. Do other control girls irritate you?
  4. Would others say you’re a control girl?
  5. Do they call you the food nazi?
  6. Does your husband feel disrespected by you?
  7. Do your kids think you’re nagging them?
  8. Are you undisciplined?

 

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 they are embarking on:

Share This:

Kristi’s Story: From Controlling Wife to Restored Marriage

If you haven’t done so yet, I invite you to Take the Control Girl Quiz! Over twelve Mondays, 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.

By: Kristi Huseby

“I give up!  I just can’t please you.  It doesn’t matter what I do, it’s never good enough!” 

His words ricocheted off the walls of our tiny bedroom, each one a barb that imbedded itself deep in my soul.  He tossed the covers onto the bed and marched out of the room.  With his words ringing in my ears and echoing in the halls of my heart, I fell on the bed, broken and shattered.  As I began to pluck the barbs from my soul, I wondered, what would cause this good-hearted man to say such hurtful words?

A random thought flittered across my mind, “Could it be me?”  Say it isn’t so!

Being a control freak came naturally for me, I never really had to work very hard at it.  It was in my DNA. I always had to be right.  I knew everything – no one could tell me anything.  I was perfect – well at least I strived for perfection.  I wanted everyone to see I had it all together.  I was at the wheel.  I didn’t need God because I was god of my own little kingdom.

There’s a verse in Proverbs that says, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death”.  Proverbs 14.12

Being the god of my own little kingdom seemed right to me but it was marching through my marriage leaving destruction in its wake.

As I sat on my bed that day, wounded and bleeding, I took a good hard look at my life and I realized this was my own making.  It wasn’t my husband who needed to change, IT WAS ME!  I realized the words that poured from his mouth that day, were words of desperation! He was at the end, he had tried everything he could to please me but it just wasn’t good enough.  He was right.

I knew if I didn’t do something, my marriage would end up like a ship stranded on the rocks battered by the waves until it broke apart.

How do you change what’s in your DNA?  How do you yank out this insidious sin that has crept its way into every area of your life?

I fell on my knees broken and undone as I saw the destruction in my life.  I cried out to God, “I see the ugliness, the pain and heartache, I’ve caused and I’m so sorry.  How could I be so blind to the destruction?   I don’t know how to root this out of my life but I know You can do it!  I promise, if you point out to me, every time I try to take control, I will say I’m sorry – to You and to the one I am trying to control.”  (One of the hardest promises I’ve ever made but I was sick of my sin and desperate for change.)

What followed was one of the most painful and difficult times of my life but God answered my prayer! It looked like this: I would be in a conversation with my husband and feel God’s prompting that I was trying to control.  I would then turn to my husband and apologize for taking control. (Saying I’m sorry is one of the hardest things for me to do – it’s an admission that I’m not perfect and don’t have it altogether and I hate it!)  Often it would happen two or three times within the course of one conversation!

As I responded to God in obedience, I began to feel God root this insidious, destructive sin out of my life.  In case you’re wondering, yes, I still struggle with control but the power it has over me is gone.  Through my obedience, God has given me the ability to recognize my control quicker, confess it immediately and let go of it.  I no longer have a burning need to be at the wheel of my life.  God’s got it and I trust Him.

Shannon, in her book Control Girl, says this:

“If I give full vent to my craving for control, it will turn me into someone I don’t want to become.  If I let my controlling heart lead me where it will, I’m convinced that someday, a woman in Bible study will ask for prayer about her exasperating mom or mother-in-law who’s making everyone miserable, and it will be me.  But if I start now and don’t give up, if I cultivate a mind-set of surrender, and make a habit of saying, ‘Not my will, but yours, be done,’ transformation is possible.  I can be changed from a Control Girl into a Jesus Girl.”

I have found this to be true.  My need to be in control turned me into someone I never thought I would be but God’s grace has redeemed me and restored my relationship with Him and with my husband.

I’m confident, His grace can do the same for you!  Take the first step – admit your need for Him!  He’ll give you the power to do the rest.

Kristi Huseby is a writer and speaker from Grand Rapids, MI. I’ve had the joy of getting to know Kristi when she was one of our women’s ministry directors at Ada Bible Church. She’s now transitioning into an exciting phase of raising money for full time missions work with EFCA Reach Global. Read more about Kristi and her ministry at her blog, Grace Spilled Over.

 


Are You a Control Girl?

Take the Quiz to find out!

  1. Do you struggle with Anger?
  2. Do you struggle with Anxiety?
  3. Do other control girls irritate you?
  4. Would others say you’re a control girl?
  5. Do they call you the food nazi?
  6. Does your husband feel disrespected by you?
  7. Do your kids think you’re nagging them?
  8. Are you undisciplined?

 

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 they are embarking on:

Share This:

(Control Girl Quiz) Are you undisciplined?

If you haven’t done so yet, I invite you to Take the Control Girl Quiz! Over twelve Mondays, 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.

Here’s Question 8:

Are you undisciplined? Do you regularly eat too much, spend too much, stay up too late, or spend too much time on social media? Are you constantly late? Do you struggle to live within any sort of boundary lines or limits?


I wonder if you’re asking yourself this question: What does discipline have to do with control? 

Let me help you make the connection. Control Girls love control, right? They like to have and keep and take control. And the one thing they despise most is losing or giving up control.

Control Girls like to be the one deciding for themselves, not deferring to some other authority. Listen to this quote Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth shared from a listener of Revive Our Hearts:

“I am very undisciplined… I know what to do, but I don’t do it… There is a dread of being trapped or stuck. Actually, God has been showing me that it is an authority problem. I do not want to be under the control of anything.”

See how this listener makes the connection between wanting control and hating discipline? She says she is undisciplined because she doesn’t want to live under control. She wants to be in control not under control. 

I can relate. This desire to be in control, not under control, is why- as a Control Girl- I struggle with limits. I don’t like being boxed in. I hate restrictions. I downplay consequences. And I sink my teeth into the the very things that are least beneficial.

Interestingly, limits aren’t a result of the Fall. They were there from the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. Even before sin entered the world, God designed for us to live with restrictions.

Willful Eve

Think about the forbidden fruit. Why would God even put it within reach? He didn’t have to plant that tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden. Why would He do that?

I think that fruit posed a question. Would Adam and Eve surrender to God? As they enjoyed the rest of the garden, would they submit to God and restrain themselves from eating from one “off limits” tree?

Well, we know the rest of the story. Eve was willful and independent. She broke past the “keep out” tape and sank her teeth into the one thing that could destroy her. And women ever since have been doing the same.

Why do we crave the things that are not good for us? Why do we push the limits? Why do we overspend and overeat? Why do we struggle with substance abuse or promiscuity? Is it not because we hate being confined? We want to be in control, not under control.

God has woven limits into our daily life. Everybody gets 24 hours in a day. Everybody gets 100 cents per dollar. Everybody gets 300 calories per donut. Nobody gets to escape limits. But Control Girls sure do try.

Top 3

What limits do you tend to push? What are the problem areas in your life? I’ve previously confessed to you that I am consistently late.  That I struggle with overeating. I also struggle with going to bed and getting up on time. Those are my top 3. What are yours? Go ahead and list them out, either in your head or on paper. I’m guessing you know what they are.

Now, here’s some encouragement. These Top 3 areas of struggle offer the perfect practice exercises for our “Control Girl to Jesus Girl” transformation.

Course Correction by Degrees

Take food, for instance. For me, food is the perfect way to practice surrendering to God, because my cravings never stop. Every time I pass a drive-through or hear the chocolate cake calling my name, I have a new opportunity to train my heart in the art of surrender, saying, “God, I surrender to you, rather than caving in to me.”

But what happens, when I live within the limits, rather than caving in to my own selfishness? My heart is redirected. I alter the course of my life by a tiny degree. I’m choosing to be under control, not in control.

And what if I do that 27 times over the course of a day? Or 189 times in over the course of a week? Or 5,070 times over the course of a month? Well, that’s a lot of course correcting! That’s a lot of surrender! And it adds up to something.

The more consistently I surrender in these moment-by-moment ways, the more my life changes directions. The more I change from a Control Girl into a Jesus Girl.

For you, it might be the craving to spend. Or the craving to be noticed by a married man. Or the craving to drink too much. For me, it’s the craving to eat foods that aren’t good for me. But each craving is an opportunity to retrain my heart to follow God, not follow the path to the Oreos.

 

 


Are You a Control Girl?

Take the Quiz to find out!

  1. Do you struggle with Anger?
  2. Do you struggle with Anxiety?
  3. Do other control girls irritate you?
  4. Would others say you’re a control girl?
  5. Do they call you the food nazi?
  6. Does your husband feel disrespected by you?
  7. Do your kids think you’re nagging them?

 

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 they are embarking on:

Share This:

Kari’s Story: “The Other Woman”

During this twelve week series, I’m sharing stories of women who are on the path from Control Girl to Jesus Girl. Like me, these women would not say that they’ve arrived. They can’t claim to be perfectly Christ-like. But they are heading in a new direction. Here’s Kari’s story:

I didn’t realize that there would be two parts to my story of betrayal.

Part One

The first chapter unfolded over ten years ago, when I learned of my husband’s deep deception and unfaithfulness. Working through this was so hard. Initially, I wished that Peter had died instead of this. Then I wished that I could die. I felt like the victim, left to do all of the hard work, even though I was the one who was innocent!

Peter had some hard work, too, beginning with confessing his sin before our entire congregation. He repented and made some huge changes, but still I felt that the heavy lifting was really left to me.

But even through the hardest days and lowest points, I did the work God called me to, and His grace was sufficient. I was even able to see that God intended my great pain and suffering for good–just as He promises in Romans 8:28

Slowly, God turned my bitterness and anger into joy, contentment, and love. We even share our story publicly, and every time we do, I’m so thankful for the hard road we’ve walked together.

Part Two

Yet between the lines of that original story, there was another story unfolding. Part Two. This is the story I don’t often share with people. It’s the part of the story about her–the woman who temporarily stole my husband’s affection and attention. Read more

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(Control Girl Quiz) Do your kids think you’re nagging them?

 

Take the Control Girl Quiz! Over twelve Mondays, 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 tackling Question 7:

Do your kids feel like you’re nagging them? Do your young children have closed hearts toward you? Do your grown children withhold information or try to avoid your questions? Do your kids bristle when you come in the room?


“Mom, you’re guilting me, and I haven’t even done anything wrong!” my daughter said with great exasperation.

Guilting her? I didn’t think I was guilting her. I was trying to remind her.

My friend, Dawn, had accidentally left her purse at our house. A purse is a big deal! Life without your purse is like life without oxygen!

But there was an additional problem: My husband and I were going out of town and Dawn wouldn’t be able to stop over and get her purse. So here was my solution: I would send the purse with my kids, who were going to my parents’ house for the weekend. Dawn could stop by there and get her purse.

Yet still I foresaw a potential snag. My daughter could easily forget a purse. Easily! The purse held nothing she needed or wanted. There was no reward for remembering the purse. So I was afraid she might forget. Which is why I had been so thorough with my reminders.

I had said, “Linds, I want you to picture yourself at Mamaw’s house. The doorbell rings and you go to the door, and there is Dawn asking for her purse. She’s taken the time to drive all the way over. She desperately needs her purse. She has no license, no credit cards, and no lip gloss.  And you have to tell her, ‘I’m so sorry, I forgot.’ See how terrible that would feel?”

To me, this was good parenting. I was reminding. I was reinforcing. I was helping.

But from my daughter’s perspective, I was controlling. 

A Control Girl’s Arsenal

My daughter’s word was “guilting”. We moms nag with heaping doses of guilt, don’t we? We also use manipulation, threatening, and criticism. Or we use warning and correcting in excess. We have a whole arsenal of options for getting and keeping and having the one thing we want: control.

And how do our kids respond to our Control Girl weaponry? They shrink back. Their hearts close. They become defensive and withdrawn. They avoid our questions. They duck out of the room, the call, or the conversation as quickly as possible. When we try to control our kids, they pull away from us. It’s their natural reaction to all of our control-getting tactics.

Hold & Fold

Now, I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Doesn’t good parenting require us to take control of our kids?” Yes, for a time this is true. Good parents take control, but they don’t keep control indefinitely. If you ask people who have been parenting for a few decades they’ll tell you that the period for getting and taking control of their kids was very short-lived, compared with the period of giving up control.

I often talk about what I call the “Hold & Fold” principal. Here’s how it relates to parenting:

When your newborn is handed to you in the hospital, you must hold responsibility for your child. You have complete control over what your baby wears, eats, watches, and participates in. But by the time your baby is eighteen, he’s an adult and it’s time to fold your hands, and trust God. No longer do you have control over what your child wears, eats, watches, and participates in.

So as parents, we start out holding and graduate to folding. For many of us, those years between are spent nagging! 

Nagging is when you have no control, but you definitely want it. You’re confronted with how little control you actually have over your child. And somehow you think you can get control by saying something over and over, and with added emphasis. So you nag, nag, nag, nag, nag, nag….

Moms, what if we stopped the nagging? What if we encouraged more and nagged less? What if we prayed more and nagged less? What if we surrendered more and nagged less??!

Putting nagging on hold is one way of affirming that God is in control, not us.

Why We Nag

God decides how our kids are shaped and what they will someday become. Yes, we have influence for a time, but ultimately He is their Creator. He is the potter and they are the clay in His hands. (Isaiah 64:8) He is molding them to be a vessel, used for His glory–not our glory!

When I’m nagging my kids and trying to control them, it often has to do with how their behavior, appearance,  attitude, etc.,  reflects back upon me. I’m thinking about what’s good for them, but I’m also thinking about what’s good for me. 

Take the instance with my friend’s purse, for example. I wanted my daughter to be responsible, but I was most invested in not disappointing Dawn. Dawn is my friend. I didn’t want her to be frustrated with me. Not that she’s easily provoked; I just didn’t want her to feel irritated by a wasted trip. I wanted her to be pleased.

But in order for this to happen, I needed my daughter to cooperate. So I nagged her. I put pressure on her. I “guilted” her.

Ephesians 4:21 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” I wonder if the instructions to women would be, “Mothers do not nag your children, lest they become exasperated.”

Nagging moms are controlling moms. And that’s not who I want to be, do you?

Reset

Here are some verses that always help me reset my attitude toward my kids, and stop the nagging.

I’m going to add some verbiage so that they correlate a bit more closely to parenting. I invite you to pray these verses over your parenting today:

Put on then (moms), as God’s chosen ones (to represent Him well in your home), holy and beloved (not selfish and insecure)–compassionate hearts (when your kids forget their gym shoes or bring home an F on the test), kindness (when your child isn’t being kind to his younger sibling), humility (when you’d just like some me-time), meekness (when you’d just like to scream at them to clean their rooms), and patience (when you find that your baby smashed your lipstick or your teenager smashed your car), bearing with one another (remembering that you were a child once, too), and if one has a complaint against another (such as, ‘she’s wearing my sweater!’ or ‘he took my lego man!’) forgiving each other (moms are called to extravagant forgiveness!); as the Lord has forgiven you (what could be more extravagant than the cross, which is the basis for my forgiveness?) so you also must forgive (your children, who will fail you and exhaust you and overlook all that you do). And above all these, put on love, which (unlike nagging) binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of God (not the desire to nag and take control) rule in your hearts. (Col. 3:12-15)


Are You a Control Girl?

Take the Quiz to find out!

  1. Do you struggle with Anger?
  2. Do you struggle with Anxiety?
  3. Do Other Control Girls Irritate You?
  4. Would Others Say You’re a Control Girl?
  5. Do They Call You the Food Nazi?
  6. Does Your Husband Feel Disrespected by You?

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 they are embarking on:

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How Her Husband’s Porn Addiction Taught Jen to Trust (not Control)

 

Welcome to my friend, author and speaker Jen Ferguson, who today shares her “Control Girl to Jesus Girl” story. Jen is from Texas, but is a regular workshop leader for our Speak Up! Conference in Grand Rapids–which is how we met. By the way, Jen also gave a beautiful endorsement of Control Girl (you can read it here.) She’s been an huge blessing and encouragement to me.

Here’s her story:

 

“Has porn been a struggle lately?” I asked my husband during a rare, home-by-ourselves dinner.

“No,” he said. “I’ve really been struggling with my eating, though. This has been harder than I thought it would be.”

And then, after a few more moments, we moved on to the dishes.

This may not seem like remarkable conversation. But it is simply because for a decade Craig’s porn addiction unleashed the full extent of my Control Girl-ness. In the past, the picture of “checking in” with Craig looked like this:

The computer had to face a certain way in the study, so that if the door was closed (though this was against the rules), I could see whatever was on the screen before Craig had time to close the window. There was to be no erasing of the history and I would monitor his emails religiously. Any hint of suspicion would often turn into accusations, or at least, a litany of questions that would not stop until I was assured there had been no violation (however, I was never 100% satisfied because I couldn’t really be assured). If he didn’t come to bed with me at night, I would lay awake, wondering if I needed to sneak downstairs to just do a little “check.” As the age of Napster faded, I could relax a little there, but as technology advances made their way into our home, I had a whole new crop of devices and services to check. iPads, iPhones, Netflix, Hulu. The list was endless.

And I was exhausted.

Controlling is exhausting. The moral of the story is that seeking to control will land us straight on the path to crazy. One Mother’s Day, I found myself on the floor of my dark bedroom closet, railing at God, shaking my fist, and wondering why He was making my life so darn difficult. When I was finally silent, He asked me a very simple question:

“Are you ready to do this My way?”

And this was the beginning of my transition from Control Girl to Jesus girl.

Forgetting Surrender

Years later, I reflected back on that closet floor moment:

As much as I prayed that God would heal him from his addiction, and as much as I knew that he could be set free, I simply had not let God handle this one on His own. In my mind, there were too many things at stake—my marriage, my husband’s life, my children, my self-respect, his self-respect. Somehow, I had fooled myself into believing that becoming the porn police was going to ensure successful recovery. Somehow, I had fallen into the trap of believing that if I said and did the right things, healing would take place. I couldn’t help by try to orchestrate the whole process, because I felt if I didn’t get control over this situation, everything as I knew it would fall apart. Crumble. Cease to exist.

I focused all my energy on what he was doing and why he was doing it. In the process, I simply forgot two very important things:

Trust God.
Respect my husband.

In my attempt control, I forgot to surrender.  I forgot to let God work. I forgot to let God heal. I forgot that Craig belonged to Him and not just to me. In the end, I became blinded by the enormity of the problem instead of boasting of the immensity of God’s power. Chains have a way of making you forget the power of the One you serve. (excerpt from Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography)

Exhausted Again

One might surmise that after learning such a big lesson, coupled with God’s healing power in Craig’s life over many years, I myself would have been completely set free from the chains of control.

But no.

Though I learned how to trust God with my husband’s porn addiction, unfortunately, this did not translate into all the others areas of my life, for there are many things I still tend to rule with an iron fist.

But God is faithful. Every time He shows me yet another area where I am acting like an impetuous Control Girl, He reminds me of this verse:

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)

I am, we are, works in progress. The past few weeks have been a painful work in progress. It seems like the whole onion analogy works here. There are layers and layers of my controlling nature and as God peels them away, sometimes I cry.

A large part of why I control is because I’m afraid. My biggest fear is that I will fail my husband and my kids.

So much of my planning, organizing, and caretaking stems from the anxiety that if I don’t do X, Y, and Z—or if they don’t—things will fall apart. I keep my expectations high for a well-run, well-organized life, doing my best to keep everyone moving along as they should, investing all that I can emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I believe that this continually striving will give me protection from all that failure that looms large out there.

Hey, guess what? I’m exhausted. Again.

Somehow, I fooled myself. I cloaked my controlling nature and hid it under the guise of simple self-discipline, self-control. That sounds so holy, right? How can self-discipline, self-control, be wrong?

Imitation Self-Control

The first clue is this—the lack of joy. Anything done out of fear tends to be rather joyless. And if I’m “wifing” and parenting without joy, what am I really giving my family?

Second Timothy 1:7 says this:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

The self-control driven by fear is not this same self-control given by God.

My self-control is really quite self-serving—to try to manipulate life so that I decrease as much suffering and disruption as possible. Running things my way feels safe and brings me much comfort. I want my order, my plan, and for everyone else to fall in line because it’s safe.

“Unfortunately, the desire for self-control may have many motivations. It may stem from man’s self-centered or worldly objectives rather than from inner controls brought about by a deep relationship with God and biblical beliefs, motives, values, methods and means, and objectives.” (see quote here)

Um, yeah.

How prideful (i.e. self-centered and worldly) is it for me to create the “safe” path, as if something I design could be better than what God has planned. How dare I doubt God’s power of redemption?

If I continually inflate my agenda over my loved ones’ lives (and my own), how much of God am I squeezing out?

And if Jesus is, by definition, LIFE, and He has come so we might have LIFE abundant, on what will we miss out because of my selfish “self-control?”

Jesus Girl Self-Control

I believe that planning, organizing and having a penchant for self-disciple are gifts God has given me. But when I use them to do His job, or when I use them for self-protection because I am afraid, I am not embodying the spiritual gift of self-control. I am simply living out a worldly imitation—and investing more faith in myself than in God.

How do you know if filling yourself with imitation self-control instead of the real thing? Here’s a little checklist (because we self-disciplined love lists, right?) to help you see if you need to trade in a counterfeit.

I’m confident that we can develop a practice of using God’s gift of self-control to discern when we are using controlling measures to cover up our feelings of being out of control.
Remember. He is faithful to finish what He has started.


Jen Ferguson is a wife, author, and speaker who is passionate about helping couples thrive in their marriages. She and her husband, Craig, have shared their own hard story in their book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography. They continue to help couples along in their journeys to freedom and intimacy at The {K}not Project. She’s also a mama to two girls and two high-maintenance dogs, which is probably why she runs. A lot. Even in the Texas heat.

 

 

 


Are You a Control Girl?

Take the Quiz to find out!

  1. Do you struggle with Anger?
  2. Do you struggle with Anxiety?
  3. Do Other Control Girls Irritate You?
  4. Would Others Say You’re a Control Girl?
  5. Do They Call You the Food Nazi?
  6. Does Your Husband Feel Disrespected by You?

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 they are embarking on:

Share This:

(Control Girl Quiz) Does Your Husband Feel Disrespected by You?

If you haven’t done so yet, I invite you to Take the Control Girl Quiz! Over twelve Mondays, 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.

Quiz Question 6:

Does your husband feel disrespected by you? Does he get angry because you interrupt? Does he get frustrated when you give suggestions or tell him how to do it? Does he often become sullen, explosive, or withdrawn? Has he opted out of parenting because you’ve corrected him so much? Has he started spending more time out than in?

You know that type of guy who just loves another home improvement project? Every Christmas, he asks for a new saw or drill or wrench set. He loves the smell of sawdust and his favorite outfit is coveralls. He lives for a completely free Saturday so he can get back to work on building the deck or hanging the drywall.

That guy? That guy is not my husband.

Now my husband is incredibly hardworking. He keeps our house and yard looking great. He is willing to help with whatever I need. Just tonight, I asked if he would clean up our trash bin cupboard, and he scrubbed on hands and knees until it was spotless! He is thorough and neat and diligent and has a wonderful servant’s heart. But Mr. Fixit, he is not.

Ken doesn’t love fixing things, and that’s okay. Except for when he tries anyway. Read more

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Control Girl to Jesus Girl: Jennifer’s Failed Marriage

During this twelve week series, I’m sharing stories of women who are on the path from Control Girl to Jesus Girl. Like me, these women would not say that they’ve arrived. They can’t claim to be perfectly Christ-like. But they are heading in a new direction.

Jennifer has always tried to be perfect. She obeyed her parents and teachers. She got straight A’s. She was compliant and followed the rules.

Jennifer graduated from college with an accounting degree, but she never wanted to be anything but a wife and mom. When she and Rob got married, she tried to be a perfect wife. Oh, how she tried to be perfect. As she and Rob added children to their home, Jennifer worked even harder to maintain the equilibrium of perfection in their home.

But one day, after a particularly stressful downturn at work, Rob came home with an empty look in his eye. He was distant. Distracted. Shortly after this, he got a new job which required more travel. The time away from home created even more distance in the marriage. Rob was emotionally vacant. Jennifer felt him withdrawing and it terrified her.

“What can I do?” she begged Rob. “Why are you pulling away?”

But he always responded the same. “You’re a great wife, Jennifer. Everything’s fine.”

It didn’t feel fine.

Jennifer scrambled to get godly advice from Christian books and Bible studies. She would underline and highlight and put every marriage tip or trick she could find into practice. She wrote love notes and initiated intimacy. She made lists of the things she adored about Rob. She was respectful and kind. She went to counseling. And she prayed! Oh, how she prayed. She fasted. She begged God to save her marriage.

But all of Jennifer’s perfectionistic efforts seemed only to push Rob, inch by inch, further out the door.

Moving Out

One morning, Rob said, “I still love you, but I’m confused and I need to sort this out. I’ve rented an apartment. I’m moving out.”

The thing Jennifer dreaded most was coming true. Her marriage was failing. She was failing. The shame of it enveloped her. Her first inclination was get a strangle hold on Rob. She was desperate to find out how to fix the problem. She would do anything!

But wasn’t this what she had been doing all these years? Clearly, it wasn’t working.

Wrestling with God

 

Over the coming weeks and months, Jennifer had to wrestle with the fact that her marriage might end. But how could this be? She had been the perfect wife! She had done everything right! She had studied the “if… then” verses in the Bible, and had stood on God’s promises!

At her core Jennifer had to contend with one thing: God was letting her down. He wasn’t meeting her expectations. Could she trust a God like this? How could God be both sovereign and good if He was allowing her to lose her marriage?

Facing and admitting these doubts about God proved pivotal for Jennifer. God met her there, in the struggle of giving up control. Jennifer had to lay the future on the altar, knowing that even if she did everything right, she might still lose her marriage.

God used a book, Prisoner in the Third Cellto give Jennifer some new direction. The book highlights the way that Jesus didn’t meet John the Baptist’s expectations either. But Jesus said, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Matt. 11:6) For Jennifer this translated: Blessed is the one who doesn’t call it quits when God doesn’t save your marriage, even after you do everything right.

What to do?

The crazy thing about Jennifer’s failing marriage was that there were no visible problems. Rob loved her. He was a Christian man, who read his Bible and prayed. He said she was a great wife and mom. He wasn’t having an affair. He wasn’t addicted to pornography. It baffled her!

So what was she to do? God gave Jennifer this verse: “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.” (Exodus 14:13 NIV) God wanted her to not do anything about her marriage. To stop trying to control the outcome. To stop striving and stressing and obsessing, and wait on Him.

But there was one thing she could do about herself. Jennifer realized that she had a habit of being reckless with her mind. Fear would rise up with no warning. A song playing at the grocery store. A sight or smell which triggered memories. Anything at all could send her into a tailspin of hopelessness and renewed desperation to try and fix everything.

So Jennifer began to pray that God would arrest her in her thoughts. When she felt worry begin to flood her soul, she would pray, “Holy Spirit rise up within me! Stop me from caving in to fear. Give me peace!” She had a rolodex of Scripture verses, ready to refute the lies of the enemy at any given moment.

Slowly, Jennifer learned to take her thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5). She was transformed in the way she thought. Even though Rob had hurt her deeply, she was learning to love as God loves–with nothing in return. Even though she had no indication that things with Rob would ever change, she was learning to extend grace the way God does–with no expiration.

Slowly, thought by thought, Jennifer was being transformed from a clamping, clinging, gripping Control Girl into a Jesus Girl. Surrendering control had set her free.

Coming Home

One day, to Jennifer’s great delight, Rob said, “I’d like to come home.”

Jennifer asked him what had changed. “I watched you,” he said. Over the months and months of separation, Rob had watched Jennifer exchange desperation and obsession for security and peace. Always before, Jennifer had gripped perfectionism like a shield against rejection. But now, Rob had watched his wife cast off perfectionism and cloak herself instead with faith.

Nothing is more lovely than a woman adorned with a deep, abiding faith in her God.

Jennifer lost the one thing she had gripped most tightly to: her marriage. But God had used this time of separation to press her to lay down her fear, give control to God, and become the beautiful, strong, fearless wife that God wanted her to be.

Here are her words today: “I strived to be the perfect wife, but all my husband wants and needs is me. With all my flawed frailties, he wants (just like me) to be needed in a safe place where he is not expected to be perfect but welcomed as enough. And it’s from that level place that we can walk forward growing together to be more like Jesus.”

 


Are You a Control Girl?

Take the Quiz to find out!

  1. Do you struggle with Anger?
  2. Do you struggle with Anxiety?
  3. Do Other Control Girls Irritate You?
  4. Would Others Say You’re a Control Girl?
  5. Do They Call You the Food Nazi?

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 they are embarking on:

Share This: