Hailey’s Story: Learning to be Dependent

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 Hailey’s Story:

I’ve never really considered myself to be a Control Girl.  I’ve always been a “pleaser.”  I like for everyone around me to be happy, and I work tirelessly to make it so. But here’s my problem. I want to do it all on my own, with no one else’s help. I’m learning that this desire to prove that I’m enough on my own comes from a Control Girl heart.

But rather than allowing me to continue in the façade that I can do it all, God has used two unplanned, painful experiences to press me to recognize that I’m not in control! He is. And He invites me find peace in surrender.

Twins!

The first surprise came when we learned that we were expecting twins. My husband, Jack, and I literally did not speak for three days. He was furious.  I thought he was furious with me.  Our three year old son even told me he did not like me anymore because Daddy was mad.  Of course Jack wasn’t mad at me, just in shock.

Me, too.  In just a few months, our twin girls were born and we became a family of five.

New babies require lots of work, sleepless nights, and visits from grandparents wanting to help.  Twins are double that—literally. But this girl did not want the help. I was convinced that if God thought enough of me to bless me with twins, I should be able to care for them both equally: giving them equal time, make them each happy, and bonding with each of them separately by MYSELF.

If I couldn’t do this by myself, then I wasn’t a good enough mother.  This was my mindset.  I literally drove myself crazy, my husband, and the whole family crazy!  It took a loving intervention from my wonderful mother-in-law and my own wonderful mother to help to realize that God hadn’t just blessed ME with these twin girls, but the entire family.

As a family, we were all responsible for loving and helping to care for them.  Bad habits are hard to break, but slowly, I came around to accepting the help I so desperately needed.

Backing Up

The twins are now six, and apparently God decided it was time for me to back up and relearn this same lesson.

We are an active family.  We have a small farm with horses, dogs, and a cat.  Our three kids compete in rodeos.  We grow hay.  I’ve always been fairly active.  My back has never completely agreed to this, but I’ve managed.  (Remember how I like to be independent?)

Back in November, we were at a friend’s house so the guys could go deer hunting.  That morning, while everyone was out, I was making the bed and as I reached across to pull up the sheets, I heard a POP!   The loudest, most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt radiated down my back, and my entire left leg contracted all at once.  Even when I was in labor with the twins—with contractions stacked and no breaks between—did not compare to this pain.

I fell to the floor and laid there crying, unable to move, for an hour until Jack came in. I screamed in pain as he picked me up and helped me to the bathroom, since that was my most immediate need. Several doctor appointments later, the pain was manageable, but I had to accept help for every single thing I did. I relied on Jack to help me shower. (Not very romantic.) I relied on my twin girls to help me dress.

One morning, when Katie was putting my socks on she said, “Mom, I never thought that when I was six years old, I would have to help dress my own mother.  You are supposed to do this for me!”  Yes sweetie, I know. 

I had surgery from the ruptured disc in my lower back, two weeks before Christmas. Afterward, I had strict restrictions not to lift, bend or twist.  I had done zero shopping.  Hello Amazon Prime!  A very dear friend took me to do some store shopping in a wheelchair.

Two weeks after Christmas, I hosted our family Christmas dinner. Instead of staying home for six weeks, I went back to work teaching three weeks post-surgery. This made me happy!  Everything was great! Until I came down with a nasty case of bronchitis in February.  Lots and lots of sneezing and coughing—which caused me to re-herniate the same disc.

Same excruciating pain.  Same surgery.

What did I do to deserve this?!!  I’m a Christian wife and mother and a hard-working, well-liked high school chemistry teacher.  (That last part may be an oxymoron).

Looking back, I realize that I’ve behaved much like I did when the twins were born. I never realized that I was controlling. But God did, and He’s been using all of this to teach me some things.

Recovering Control Girl

As of today, it’s been four weeks since my last surgery, and I’m still home recovering. I’m also reading Control Girl.  In the very first chapter, the idea of considering my future self really hit me. I had never thought about the person I will become. And reading Shannon’s stories have caused me to think about my own mothering. How will my children remember me? What kind of marriage am I creating? Where do I go from here?

These past six months have left this Control Girl raw with pain and emotion. The controlling walls that I’ve so carefully built up around me have had to come down. Before, I thought that it was right at good for me to be independent and try to juggle everyone’s happiness. But I’ve had to recognize that our happiness does not depend on me. I can’t do it all. And when I try, I degrade my relationships instead of helping them.

In lesson four of the chapter on Eve, Shannon says, “My culture may cheer me on when I’m pushy, independent, demanding, and domineering, but when I turn on my heel and bring these attitudes to my marriage and other relationships, I inevitably drive in wedges. The more controlling I get, the less happy we all are.”

Thankfully, God has been inviting me to lay down my burden of control. I’m learning to let others in and accept their help. Most importantly, I’m learning to let God in! He wants me to depend on Him. He is using the things I can’t control to transform me from Control Girl to Jesus Girl.

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:

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?

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Would Others Say You’re a Control Girl?

If you haven’t done so yet, I invite you to Take the Control Girl Quiz! Over twelve Mondays (sorry I missed last week–it was a very busy ministry week for me), 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.

Question #4:

Do friends or family members send subtle hints? Do others give tactful clues that they’d like you to back off? Do they ever roll their eyes and say, “I got it, the first six times, Mom!” or “I can handle it,”? If we cornered the people who love you most, would they privately admit that you are pushy or overbearing?

Some years ago, we pulled into the driveway of the condo that we were renting for a vacation, but before we got out, my husband said he wanted a word with me. He told the kids to stay in the van, and walked with me around the corner, where he said, “Shannon, you’ve got to stop. You are going to ruin this whole vacation!”

I was furious. Ruin it? I was the only reason we were going to have a vacation at all! I had spent the entire morning, trying to get us stocked, loaded, and headed in the right direction. But my husband saw it differently. He said, “You’re completely on edge! You’re barking orders and snapping at the kids and obsessed over the stupidest things. You’re ruining it!”

It was true that I had been completely stressed out. But it all had to be done! I was getting all of the food packed so that we didn’t have to waste half the afternoon looking for a grocery store because we forgot the peanut butter. It wasn’t my fault that someone had eaten the food I was planning to bring! And I was checking everyone’s feet for shoes and everyone’s suitcases for swimsuits, because I didn’t want anyone to miss out on hiking or swimming. It wasn’t my fault that someone had lost their other tennis shoe! And I was obsessed about printing off the details for getting the key (this was before we had smartphones) because I wanted us to be able to get in when we arrived. It wasn’t my fault that the printer was broken!!

My husband was acusing me of ruining our vacation? Maybe if he had helped a little more, I could have had a vacation, TOO!!

I’m sure there was steam coming out of my ears as I told him exactly how I felt about all of this. But he just calmly stood there and said, “Seriously. You need to stop. Stop. It.”

“What am I doing wrong?” I asked angrily. “What crime have I committed?”

He said, “Shannon, you are very intimidating when you get like this. We all feel the stress. No one wants to tell you, but I have to! You’re ruining it. You are destroying our family and you’re going to live to regret it.”

His words were shocking, in one sense. I was intimidating? I was creating stress? I was destroying our family?

I was the one trying to make this vacation–and this family–turn out right! 

But though I wouldn’t admit it at first, I knew that he was telling the truth. When we got inside the condo, I went into the bathroom, and talked into the mirror with the same expression I had just used when I demanded that the kids pick up the candy wrappers in the van. It was hideous. What an evil-looking expression. No wonder my family was stressed out.

And how ridiculous to get this angry over some wrappers, some peanut butter, a printer, and a missing shoe.

Finding Out I’m a Control Girl

For me, learning that I was a Control Girl was a gradual process. It took me a long time to look my problem in the eye and see it for what it is. But now I see it much more clearly. Trying to grasp at control never brings peace; only turmoil and conflict. The truth is, I can’t control everything. And when I try, I get really ugly.

Thankfully, God gave me a husband who has been willing to say, “No one wants to tell you, but I have to!” He has repeatedly told me over the years to stop it, cut it out, quit ruining things. Interestingly, I don’t remember him ever using the word “control”. Yet control was at the root of all of our strife.

Do you have strife in your relationships? Is there tension? Do other people send you subtle hints? Do they back away or shake their heads? Is there anyone who finds you exasperating?

If so, I have an assignment for you.

Your Assignment

I know this is the last thing you want to do, but take some time to contemplate the critical things that people in your life–especially the people who know and love you most–have said about you. Consider their complaints; their frustrations. Now, (maybe for the first time) acknowledge that they might be right. Give their criticisms your full attention. For the moment, suspend your arguments, defenses, and rebuttals and listen carefully to their side of the argument. Maybe you’ll even want write down their main messages to you.

I know that they haven’t gotten everything right. People rarely do. But perhaps there is something you need to see about yourself, which you have been blind to.

Next, take these criticisms and complaints and compare them to these words from the Bible. Look for any parallels between what your criticizer has said and what God says:

“Love is patient and kind;

love does not envy or boast;

it is not arrogant or rude.

It does not insist on its own way;

it is not irritable or resentful;

it does not rejoice at wrong-doing but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all thing, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.” (I Cor. 13:4-8)

Did you find any parallels? For me, it’s the same, every time. If I consider my husband’s (or someone else’s) frustration with me, almost without exception, God validates their complaint.

 

Confessing the Sin of Control

So what then? What can we do?

In a word: Repent! Oh, the sweet relief of agreeing with God and other people about my sin. This is the pathway to change! There is no other way. Unless I own my sin, I will not be free of it. “Confess your sins one to another that you may healed,” says James 5:16.

Confessing my sin of craving control over other people and outcomes, or admitting that I was selfishly insisting on my own way is counterintuitive, especially to a Control Girl. To say that I’ve been wrong gives someone else control. They can then say, “Aha! I’m right! You’re wrong! It is just as I’ve said!” Yes, there is always the chance the other person might do that. But sometimes they don’t.

I’ve found that when I confess my sin softly and ask for forgiveness, often the other person responds in softness also. This sort of interchange can be life-giving to the relationship. I can’t be promised this outcome, of course. But here’s the good news. If, after I confess my sin of control, the other person mocks me or piles on more judgement, I have even more opportunity to surrender control to God! It’s not easy, but it’s life-changing.

Surrender over time is what turns us from Control Girls to Jesus Girls. And I know of no better way to begin the surrender process than with confession. Confession and surrender are interwtined. You can’t have one without the other.

What do you think? Are you willing to try? Will you open yourself up and listen to others’ complaints about you? They might not come right out and say that you are pushy, overbearing, or controlling, but I’m sure they’ve found a way to file their complaints. Will you consider these criticisms from God’s perspective? Will you admit when you’ve been wrong? If so, you won’t be a Control Girl for long. You’ll be on the path to Jesus Girl.

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?

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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Control Girl to Jesus Girl: Michelle’s Cancelled Adoption Story

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.

Michelle’s dreams of growing her family were crushed when her husband decided that it would not be wise to move forward in an adoption process. Michelle tells her story of surrender.

Instead of bringing it up to her husband, Michelle learnted to lift it up to God. From nagging wife to praying wife, Read more

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(Control Girl Quiz) Do other Control Girls irritate 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 3:

Are you irritated by other controlling people? Is there a controlling person in your life who deeply frustrates you? Are you more bothered by this person than others? Do you react in a passive aggressive manner when a controlling person gives you no choice or violates your “turf”?

When I speak on Control Girl, the most common question I’m asked is, “But what about that other controlling woman in my life? What should I do about her?”  Read more

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(Control Girl to Jesus Girl) Julie’s Mother-in-Law

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.

Julie’s Story:

My husband has always talked about how much he’s like his mom. They’re both analytical and good with money. They both love being active outdoors. And they are both talented musicians. But I’ve noticed one way that they are completely different. My husband is flexible and easy going. And his mom is a Control Girl.

Early on, it didn’t bother me much when she was insistent and demanding about having her way. But then I got pregnant, and my mother-in-law’s desire to control everything only intensified. Read more

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(Control Girl Quiz) Do you struggle with anxiety?

If you haven’t yet taking the “Control Girl Quiz“, I invite you to start there. 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. (Check out Kim’s powerful story here.) If you’re interested in sharing your story, contact me at shannon@shannonpopkin.com.

Quiz Question 2:

Do you struggle with worry or anxiety? Are you gripped with fear over the future? Do you fret about your own safety or the safety of those you love? Do you obsess over small concerns because you’re worried about where they will lead? Do you tend to project into the future, consider all of the “what if’s”, and overreact?

Like anger, anxiety is often an indication that we’re trying to control something which isn’t ours to control. 

We obsess over past mistakes, and overthink the implications of our perceived shortcomings. We worry about little things that aren’t “right”, fretting about where it all might lead. Everything seems like a “slippery slope” with a straight shoot into disaster.  And we dread the future and what sort of disasterous, terrifying things might–or probably will–happen.

Past, Present, Future

If we let it, anxiety can paint a cloud of doom over the past, the present, and the future.

Here’s an example. Once, in second grade, my son had some friends over after school. Read more

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Control Girl to Jesus Girl: Kim

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.

I was blessed to have Kim share at our Kregel Parable Release Party. Here’s what she said: 

“About twelve years ago, my husband and I were going through a divorce and we separated for two years. After a lot of ugliness and trying to control each other, Read more

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And the Winner Is….

Congratulations to…

Shirley Strait!!!

Shirley, my publicist from Litfuse Publicity Group will be in touch via email with details on how to claim your prize. You can also email your mailing address to info@litfuse.com.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the giveaway. It was fun. A special thanks to everyone who participated in the blog tour! I so appreciate the time and energy you put into your careful reviews!!! (Read reviews here, or on Amazon here.)

If you didn’t win, and would like to get the book, here are some options for you:

  • Amazon:
  • CBD.com: Currently in stock for $10.99.
  • Barnes & Noble: Currently in stock for $14.99
  • Kregel: My publisher will cover your shipping cost if you use code (CG17) when you call customer service at 800-733-2607.
  • Here. Order from me here. Today only, get $5 off the Combo Pack (which includes our coloring book and a sampler pack of meditation cards), using code: (jesusgirl5).

Control Girl Quiz

Have you taken the Control Girl Quiz yet? Have you invited your friends to take the quiz?

Over 12 weeks, I’ll be unpacking the quiz, question by question. This past Monday was the first post, titled, “Control Girl Quiz: Do you struggle with anger?

Also over the next 12 weeks, I’ll be highlighting some of your stories in a series titled “Control Girl to Jesus Girl”. You can listen to Elizabeth’s story here (most of the stories will be written, but we videoed Elizabeth at our Baker Book House release party.) If you’re interested in sharing your story with me of how the Control Girl message is changing you, I’d love to hear from you! Use the contact form below.

Other Resources

Have you checked out the other resources?

Thanks again for all of your enthusiasm and support on this project. I am so excited about what God has already and will continue to do through this book! Please feel free to contact me using the form below. I’d love to hear from you!

The most important thing, though, isn’t winning prizes or selling books. The most important thing is transformation. We don’t want to be Control Girls forever. Let’s head in a new direction, shall we? Let’s be Jesus Girls!!

Love,

 

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Control Girl Quiz: Do you Struggle with Anger?

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 shannon@shannonpopkin.com.

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. Read more

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Control Girl to Jesus Girl: Elizabeth

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.

Not all of the stories in this series will be shared by video, but I was blessed to have Elizabeth share at the Kregel Parable Release Party. Though her emotions were raw, and she claims that speaking is not “her thing” (I disagree), she has given me permission to share this publicly.

Here’s Elizabeth’s story about how perfectionism ruined her peace and stole her joy: 

“Control only temporarily soothed my anxiety. I strived to be this perfect juggler-always keeping every ball in the air. When one would drop–which it always did– Read more

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