(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:

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 Quiz) Do They Call You the Food Nazi?

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

Question 5:

Do they call you the “Food Nazi”? Or the “Seatbelt Nazi”? Or the “(Fill-in-the-blank) Nazi?” Do other people resist your efforts to get them to do what is in their best interest? Are there people at work, home, or in your community who might say that you micromanage, overstep, or insist on your way?

Nursery Nazi

Back when our kids were still in diapers, there was a woman at our church whom my husband privately nicknamed, ‘The Nursery Nazi’.

This woman was incredibly committed to our church and probably worked more hours that then pastor. She was also (in my opinion) a Control Girl. Her passion in life was to enforce the rules of our church’s nursery.

My husband Ken, who is a renegade at heart, could never seem to remember the purple tag required to claim your kids at the nursery counter. He would forget to fish it out of my purse, or accidentally toss it out with his coffee cup. As a result, he had many run-ins with the Nursery Nazi. Somehow he always won and got to bring the kids home, but not without a fight!

Though she knew us personally, the Nursery Nazi would hold Ken hostage for extended periods, glaring and refusing to budge while he kept saying, “Sorry. I don’t have the purple tag. Can I please have my kid? Or should I pick him up next week?” Ohhhh, he was so provoked by this woman! Sunday after Sunday, he would gripe all the way home about her, with ever-increasing intensity. Though I can’t prove it, I think sometimes he threw out those purple tags on purpose, just to spite her! She was a thorn in his flesh.

Now, did my husband love our kids and want them to be safe? Yes. Did he appreciate that our church took safety precautions and had policies to protect children? Yes. But did he appreciate the headstrong efforts of the Nursery Nazi? No. Emphatically, no. 

Clamping Down

I don’t work in the church nursery, but there are other things in life that I find my hands in a strangle hold on. Like where the dirty clothes go. Or what music my kids listen to. Or the ministry I help lead.

Women often have a way of clamping down on their own ideals or expectations–especially when we’re convinced that we’re right and others are wrong. We might not be trying to frustrate or irritate people (sometimes we are). We’re just convinced that we know what is best for everyone involved! And we’re willing to stand our ground and make that happen.

But here’s the issue. When we clamp down and insist on our ideals, we tend to provoke other people, rather than influence them for good.

Have you ever seen this happen in your life? For instance:

  • How do your kids respond to your vigilant monitoring of their food and its ingredients? What about their media consumption? Or their study habits?
  • How does your husband respond when you audit his daily eating and exercise habits? What about his spending habits? Or the way he uses his free time?
  • How does your family respond when you obsess over germs and hand-washing? What about other safety precautions like locking doors and wearing seatbelts?
  • How do coworkers respond when you doggedly insist on doing things the “right” way? What about when you hold others responsible for even the smallest, most inconsequential rules or refuse to ever make exceptions?

Control Girls have such good intentions. We see ourselves as invested and committed. We only control because we care!

But God never designed for us to be Control Girls. When we’re convinced that it’s all up to us, and that we must take control, we take on the role of God–and we never do a good job of it. “Playing God” only turns us into frantic, obsessive, angry, perfectionistic, dreadful women.

And when we micromanage, overstep, and insist on our way, other people naturally want to resist or withdraw. They become defensive and stubborn. Rather than welcoming our input and influence, they roll their eyes and endure it.

Letting God be God

God is in control, and I am not. Say that to yourself. Do you believe it’s true?

If we convinced ourselves that the opposite is true–that God is not in control and we are, we create tension and frustration wherever we go. But thankfully, have to continue in this negative pattern.

Are you a Control Girl? Do you want to learn to be a Jesus Girl instead? I encourage you to check out my new book, Control Girlfor a full discussion of what God says about the topic. But here are a few ideas for getting started, especially if someone is calling you a Nursery Nazi, a Food Nazi, or some other sort of Nazi:

  • Think back over the past two months and make a list of situations where there was tension because you were clamping down or adamantly insisting on your way. Pray through your list and ask God to show you any selfishness, perfectionism, or stubbornness in your heart.
  • Now make a list of relationships in which you have tried to play God. Pray through your list and invite God to come and take His rightful place in each of these people’s lives.
  • Meditate on some verses that help you to reflect on God’s infinite control over the whole universe. (I love Psalm 33.) Choose a way to rejoice in the fact that God is in control. Maybe you could journal or sing. Purposefully settle your heart, trusting in His sovereign reign over the situations that most tempt you to take control.

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?

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:

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, making 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, 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 my 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. 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 and 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?

Share This:

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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