Control Girl Playlist

I’ve been promising this for a while…. Here’s a list of my favorite songs that capture the message of my new book, Control Girl. I hope that they will speak truth and encouragement to you on your journey from Control Girl to Jesus Girl! So thankful for these artists, and their heart for surrender to God.

Do you have other song suggestions? Please feel free to send them to me! Blessings to you.

 

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(Control Girl Quiz) Does God seem far away?

If you haven’t done so yet, I invite you to Take the Control Girl Quiz! Or if you’ve already taken it, check out the Control Girl Quiz Series, where I’m working through each of the quiz questions week by week. Also, I’m telling your stories in a “Control Girl to Jesus Girl” series.

Today I’m discussing Quiz Question #12:

Does God seem far away? Do you picture God as distant or uncaring? Are you suspicious of His motives? Do you think of Him as too indifferent, apathetic, or disinterested to concern Himself with the things that matter to you?


Wanting Control at Age 17

When I was 17, I spent a week of summer break at camp with my church youth group. True to tradition, there was a campfire on Friday night, where we were given opportunity to recommit the following year to God. I was terribly conflicted.

After the camp fire, rather than going back to my cabin, I asked the speaker–Pastor Ken Rudolph, if we could talk.

Pastor Rudolph led me to a quiet place by the lake, and I tried to explain the conflicting emotions I was experiencing. I was a Christian. I still believed in Jesus. I didn’t want to leave the Church. But I also did not want to live my life for God.

The idea of giving up my whole life–or at least the coming year–was intolerable.  It was my senior year, and more than anything else, I wanted to fit in at school. I wanted to be well-liked. I wanted to be included. If I followed Jesus, I was quite sure I would be excluded, and that thought filled my heart with dread.

Pastor Rudolph encouraged me. He said that he thought God wanted to do big, exciting things with my life. He could see how God might want to use me for His kingdom, but he also knew that God would not make the decision for me. would have to make it myself. He pressed me to make a decision by breakfast and let him know. Was I going to live my senior year for God, or for myself?

With My Ears Plugged

The next morning, I avoided eye contact with Pastor Rudolph. I avoided his table at breakfast. The bus pulled out, and I waved at Pastor Rudolph, knowing that I hadn’t answered his question out loud, but I had made my choice.

I wanted my senior year for myself. I would follow God afterward.

I spent that year with my ears plugged to the things of the Lord. I went to church, but I didn’t listen. I did not open my Bible. I did not pray. God seemed very far away and irrelevant to my life. I didn’t feel as though I needed Him. And I didn’t want Him messing up my plans.

I had always assumed that this was the way to be happy. Always before I had thought of myself as being “held back” from enjoying life, because I was trying to do what God wanted. But now, I was choosing based on what wanted!

I didn’t go crazy. I’m not sure if anyone even noticed. It was an internal thing. I had set myself free from the burden of trying to please God. Yet surprisingly, this didn’t turn out to be the path to eternal joy. Rather than being happy and at peace, I was actually really angry.

I fumed at my parents and slammed lots of doors. I blew up at my little sister. I was angry at the whole world. Once, a random woman followed me home because in my anger, I had been driving recklessly. She stood in my driveway and lectured me about potential consequences, but I just hopped in the car, and drove away in even more anger.

I’ve talked before (and throughout Control Girl) about the correlation I see between control and anger. I didn’t see this, as a teenage girl, of course, but looking back I see that my anger stemmed from not being able to control the universe.

I couldn’t make certain peer groups invite me in. I couldn’t make a certain boy like me back. I couldn’t make the whole world bend to respond the way I wanted. No matter what I did to adapt or make myself more likeable, I was not ultimately in control of how things played out, and this realization made me mad.

A Distant God

If you had asked me about God during this time, I probably would have said that God seemed distant. I didn’t feel like God particularly cared about me. He certainly wasn’t giving me the things I wanted. But here’s what I failed to see: I was the one who had pulled away from God and created the distance between us; not the other way around.

It’s pretty logical that God would seem distant if we’re pulling away from Him, right? But we rarely think of it as our fault. We sulk, cry, pout, and shake our fist at heaven, saying, “Are you even there, God? Do you even care?”

Yet if we’re not opening God’s Word, which is the primary way He speaks to us, how can we expect to hear God’s voice or sense His presence? If we’re not on our knees in prayer, begging Him to reveal Himself, how can we expect to hear His response to our pleas? We’re like the woman who has moved out, changed her cell phone number, and gotten a restraining order against her husband, yet says, “Our failed marriage is all his fault. He’s just so distant and uncaring!”

Thankfully, our God is longsuffering and patient with us. Lamentations 3:23-24 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” No matter how long we’ve been hard hearted, or how far we’ve wandered, our God is always ready to welcome us back. James 4:8 says, “ Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Seeking God is how we find Him. Taking control is how we ignore Him.

Drawing Near

Thankfully, I was miserable trying to manage my life without God. During my freshman year of college, I began to do as James 4:8 says by confessing my sin and drawing near to God. I’ve written here about a moment when God leaned down low from heaven with undeniably providential timing, just to show a college freshman that He cared and He wanted me back.

Friends, if we believe that God doesn’t care or that He isn’t close, there’s no way we’ll give Him control. Why would we take a leap of faith, if we’re not convinced God is there to catch us? Why would we give Him the wheel, if we don’t believe that He will lead us somewhere good? Unless we believe that God is in control, and that this is good news for us, we won’t give Him the reins. Instead, we’ll keep them clutched in our own little Control Girl hands, convinced that it’s all up to us.

I don’t know what you’re going through today. You might be experiencing something that makes you say, “God, where are you? Do you even care?” But I beg you to consider that God has already answered those questions in His word. He says that yes, He cares!

“…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” I Peter 4:7

And He says that yes, He is near!

The Lord is near to all who call on him; to all who call on Him in truth.” Psalm 148:18

In closing, let me share a quote from page 32 of Control Girl: 

When I put God in charge of my Happy Ending, I concede what is true. He’s in control, and I am not.

I do have choices, but every contingency in my life is attached to an ending held firmly in God’s grasp. I’m not sure how this all works, but because God is kind and wise, this is good news. He is weaving together an ending far happier than anything I could construct.

If the ending were in my hands, I’d be in constant hysterics, trying to manage loose threads and snags. I’d surely be a frantic, obsessive Control Girl. But knowing that the last page of my story is settled gives me peace, security, and hope for the journey. If I start with the secure ending, then flip backward, it’s easier to give God control of the things that concern me today.

Even when my happiness seems to be unraveling, I am not undone, because I know that nothing has slipped from God’s hands. In all things, I can say with confidence, “Not my will buy yours be done.”


Are You a Control Girl?

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

Control Girl to Jesus Girl

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

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(Control Girl Quiz) Do you have a lifestyle of “image control”?

If you haven’t done so yet, I invite you to Take the Control Girl Quiz! Or if you’ve already taken it, check out the Control Girl Quiz Series, where I’m working through each of the quiz questions week by week. Also, on Thursdays, I’ll be telling your stories in a “Control Girl to Jesus Girl” series.

Today I’m discussing Quiz Question 11:

Do you have a lifestyle of “image control”? Do guard yourself against hurt by trying to control what people think of you? Do you throw yourself into your work, ministry, or appearance to ward off feelings of worthlessness? Do you put up walls in relationships or limit yourself to superficiality?

“Image Control” is a term we sometimes use to describe how celebrities and politicians try to manage the way they are depicted to and perceived by the watching world. But regular people like me do it, too.

Here are some examples of “Image Control”:

  • Taking 27 selfies then cropping the best one before uploading to Instagram.
  • Changing clothes six times and examining myself at every angle before leaving the house.
  • Arriving at the event, then making everyone pile back into the van to return home so that my son can get some pants that are long enough.
  • Obsessing over having every square inch of my house clean (including the medicine cupboard and the shelves in the garage) because guests are coming for dinner.
  • Staying up till 2 a.m. working on table decorations for the women’s event at church.
  • Tossing and turning all night, obsessing over the stupid thing I said in front of a group of people.

Can you relate to any of these? If so, the chance is good that like me, you’re a Control Girl.

Often we don’t think of obsession with appearances or performance as Control Girl issues. Overachievers and perfectionists are just driven to do well, right? Women just naturally want their homes and families to reflect well upon them, right?

Maybe. But I think that there’s sometimes a desire for self-protection lurking beneath that desire to achieve. We don’t want to be hurt. We fear rejection. We loath being thought of as “less than” again. And so how do we protect ourselves against these sorts of hurts and disappointments? We take control.

Listen to an excerpt from my chapter on Leah in Control Girl: 

 Pain as deep as Leah’s can absolutely define you. It can set a course for the future. You vow to never let someone hurt you like that again. You put up walls, withdraw, numb yourself to relationships, or limit yourself to superficiality. You become rigidly independent to prove you don’t need people.

Or you become a producer. A perfectionist. You throw yourself into your work, ministry, or appearance to define your worth. You attract new girlfriends who think you’re fun, new men who think you’re sexy.

None of these attempts to ward off feelings of worthlessness are overtly controlling. But there is a defensive aspect to control, isn’t there?

We might project confidence, rigidity, or independence, when inside we’re just hurting. We’re trying to defend ourselves against being hurt again. And while it’s not bad to keep others from controlling us, sometimes defensiveness becomes a destructive pattern.

We guard against everyone. We trust no one. Including God.

If you have been hurt deeply in the past, or treated like worthless trash by others, no doubt this has affected you. Maybe you’ve reacted in one of the ways described above, attempting to ward off feelings of worthlessness.

Glance back over your shoulder. Do you see any defensive aspects of control if your past?

If so, there’s an irony I hope you will consider.  You can throw yourself into proving your worth, yes. But can you control the outcome? Can you make people appreciate your work? Can you force others to be drawn to you? Can you be in relationships yet still fortify yourself against hurt?

No, you can’t.  But here’s what you can do instead. You can give God control of deciding how much you’re worth. If you’re wondering how much worth God assigns to you, take a look at the cross. Look at what He gave up, just to have you.

Friend, won’t you choose to trust God, rather than other people, in determining your worth? This is one very significant way of giving Him control.


Are You a Control Girl?

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

Control Girl to Jesus Girl

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

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(Control Girl Quiz) Do You Keep Hidden Agendas?

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

Here’s Question 10:

Do you keep hidden agendas? Do you tend to conceal information or only tell part of the story, to give yourself leverage? Do you use information to manipulate people? Do you use relational equity to your advantage?

Dinner Plans

I recently had a big argument with my husband that started with him asking and innocent question:

“What’s for dinner?” he said.

This provoked me. I began ranting about how much I do around the house (not nearly as much as many women) and his unreasonable expectations (he’s actually not demanding at all) and how burdensome my life is (this isn’t true either; I have it pretty easy).

So as you might expect, these unfair complaints and criticisms sent some sparks flying. My husband fired back some defensive zingers, reminding me loudly about how he lets me go shopping whenever I like, and never complains about what I cook or how late it is when dinner finally makes it to the table. (These things are true).

Even so, I didn’t back down. As I got the meat out to thaw and the onions to chop, I kept griping and complaining about my terrible life. But if I’m honest, all of this was a smokescreen. There was something else at the bottom of it all that I wasn’t saying.

Earlier that week, my dear husband had made a vague suggestion about going out for dinner that weekend. He said it, and I was counting on it.

What was my plan for dinner? It was for him to offer to take us all out for dinner! That was my plan. But because he was asking me what we were having, my plan was being threatened (which I realize is ridiculous). So because I was losing control of my dinner plans, I became angry and attacked his character (which I realize is doubly ridiculous).

He left me fuming in the kitchen, then came back a few minutes later. He put his arms around me and apologized, which helped me apologize, too. And then do you know what that man of mine said? He said, “Honey, it sounds like you’ve had a stressful day. Why don’t we just go out for dinner?”

Can you believe it? See what I mean, when I say God gave me a gracious husband?

On the way to the restaurant, I said sheepishly, “I was hoping you would take us out tonight. Remember, you mentioned it earlier this week? I was actually kind of counting on it. That’s why I got so mad…”

“Why didn’t you just say so?” he asked.

Why I Prefer Hidden Agendas

It’s a fair question. Why was I not forthright about my hopes for the evening? Why didn’t I just say what I wanted plainly?

I think it’s because we Control Girls prefer to keep hidden agendas. If we come right out and ask, we might be told no. If we share all of the information, we might not get what we want. If we reveal our agenda, we might not have quite as much leverage.

Into the Light

For all of these reasons, Control Girls like to keep things hidden. Satan, the Father of Lies, loves it, too. He knows that when I drag my agenda out from its dark little hiding corner, I drain it of its power. Hidden agendas lose their advantage, out in the light.

But the light is where God asks me to live. He invites me to lay down my selfishness and serve other people, rather than protecting my own plans. He wants me to live like Jesus and lay down my life, rather than gripping my plans tighter.

So let me ask: Do you have any hidden agendas? Is there part of the story you’re not telling, to give yourself leverage? Are you manipulating anyone right now by concealing information? Are you currently using relational equity to your advantage in a situation?

If so, why not drag your hidden agenda out into the light. Let it be exposed for what it is: ugly selfishness.

God invites each of us to live in the light: To be open, honest, truth-tellers. This won’t bring us more control. But it will eliminate barriers in our relationships with God and other people.

 

 

Are You a Control Girl?

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

Control Girl to Jesus Girl

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

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Amelia’s Story of Panic & Control

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 so pleased to welcome author and speaker (and my sweet friend), Amelia Rhodes, to tell her story of Control and Panic. 

Also, Amelia is offering a chance to win my book, Control Girl, on her blog today! Here’s a link.


My heart began to race. Fire radiated from my chest down my arms and up my neck. Sweat beads rolled down my temples.

“No, no. Please God no,” I cried. I recognized immediately what was happening to me…again. “I can’t have a panic attack. Not now.” 

I stepped out the back door of my home office hoping the early December Michigan air would cool the fire in my face.

“God, I can’t go back to a life of panic again,” I prayed desperately.

Past Panic

It had been years since I’d had a panic attack, but I have battled anxiety and panic for as long as I can remember. 

In middle school, I recall obsessively thinking about things like our house burning down, and how maybe I had left the curling iron on or a candle burning that would cause it. I had a deep fear that people only tolerated me, but didn’t really like me, among a list of other worries and fears.

Control became my coping mechanism. Through high school, I became an extreme perfectionist, the hardest worker, top of my class, but desperately lonely. I prayed, studied the Bible, and I was there for my friends. But I never asked for help. I held even my closest friends at arms distance afraid to let anyone too close. I hid my anxiety from everyone, even my parents.

During college, I suffered from depression and extreme insomnia. At the urging of a friend who saw my darkness, I went to see the counselor on campus. I quit going after a few sessions out of embarrassment. I didn’t see anything that was “wrong” in my life. I determined I would just work my way through and control it, like I always did. 

Reaching My Lowest

In my early thirties, after the birth of my second child, I hit my lowest. Insomnia returned. I suffered weekly panic attacks. Some days, it was all I could do to get out of bed, change diapers, and feed my kids. I’d slide the couch in front of the entryway to the living room and lie there all day watching my kids toddle around the room. 

I finally went to see my doctor who discovered I had a slowed down thyroid…and an anxiety disorder. I fought her diagnosis. I refused to take her prescribed antidepressant, and vowed to never tell a soul about my anxiety problem. I determined I would continue to control my life and keep the appearance of order and having it all together.

Except I physically couldn’t. God had allowed me to reach my lowest, so He could raise me up in His love.

A series of conversations with my husband, and then a trusted friend, and later a counselor, and another doctor (and the prescription) helped me begin the path to healing.

Healing from Anxiety

Over a period of years, I learned how to handle the anxiety. A big tool was learning to be authentic with people and releasing control of my image and perfectionism.

I’d been panic attack free for several years when the fire washed over my body that December morning. I was instantly afraid of returning to that dark place.

A tower of moving boxes sat in my living room where normally a fresh-cut pine would be covered with decades of handmade Christmas ornaments.

The closing date on the sale of our home loomed in a couple weeks. After months of searching, we still couldn’t find a new place to live. Several friends had even offered their basements as temporary homes.

The Root of Control

It was in that moment I realized how much of my panic was related to feeling loss of control. With the sale of our house and stepping into the unknown, not knowing where we would live next, my nemesis had set in once again.

But this time, I realized I didn’t have to let panic rule me. Nor did I have to try to control the situation causing the panic (as if I even could). 

I crashed to my knees in desperate prayer, then I leaned into the panic. I let it come. I let people in, texting my husband and a friend. They walked with me, held my hands, and helped me get up and keep moving. 

For two more days, my heart raced at the slightest noise. Rather than feeling discouraged or ashamed, I thanked God for the reminder that He is with me even in the panic. He walks with me; He carries this burden that I wish would go away forever.

And all those situations I can’t control – He walks with me through those too.


Amelia Rhodes lives in Lowell, Michigan with her husband and two children. As a recovering perfectionist who has been freed, by God’s grace, from the grip of perpetual anxiety, Amelia encourages women to discover who they are in Christ and to deepen their relationships with each other. Her favorite activities include coffee breaks and pizza parties with friends and family. 

Amelia is the author of Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community and Isn’t It Time for a Coffee Break: Doing Life Together in an All-About-Me Kind of World. Amelia’s writing has also been featured in four Chicken Soup for the Soul titles, the international devotional Upper Room, and in an upcoming devotional book from Guideposts. Amelia has a growing speaking ministry and speaks regularly to women’s groups on topics of spiritual growth, friendship, and community, offering practical tools for living our faith in the everyday. 

She lives in Lowell, Michigan, with her husband and two children.

You can connect with Amelia online at www.ameliarhodes.com, Twitter: @amrhodes, Instagram: @ameliamrhodes, or Facebook: facebook.com/ameliarhodeswriter


Are You a Control Girl?

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

Control Girl to Jesus Girl

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

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Amy’s Anxiety-Ridden Daughter

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 still a Control Girl,” Amy sighed. “That’s what I’m realizing.”

I could relate. I’ve even written a book on the subject, but the struggle of control is far from over in my heart.

Amy and I became friends years ago, after I spoke at her church on “Control Girl”. She told me that this was an epiphany moment for her, and she had committed then and there to not evolve into a demanding, harsh, manipulative older woman.  Read more

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

Control Girl to Jesus Girl

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

Share This:

Control Girl to Jesus Girl Series

I’ve written the book, Control Girlnot as a celebration of control. Rather, it’s a call to break free from the burden control places onto our shoulders! The goal is not to stay Control Girls. We want to be transformed! But how is this possible? Especially when your husband is about to embarrass you by wearing jeans to a wedding. Or your teen is looking at porn. Or you mother-in-law keeps showing up, uninvited.

For some of us, this some of us the desire to take control and make everything turn out right is the like an undertow that has been pulling us deeper into our pattern of control for years!  How can we ever become Jesus Girls, who say to God, “Not my will but Yours be done,”?

Friend, if you want to change, I have good news. That’s what God wants for you, too! In fact, He’s designed an regimen designed uniquely for you. And what are the exercises He’s chosen? He’s given you things you can’t control. He’s put your right in the middle of situations, relationships, and work places that you really want to control, but can’t. He’s selected these people and situations as invitations to trust Him, and give Him the reins.

Now, let me warn you. Giving God control won’t be a one time event. In fact, once you decide to surrender this thing you’d like to control to God, you might have to repeat that decision 42 more times. In a single afternoon. Surrendering control is an ongoing, moment-by-moment process, but it’s what God has designed to change us and make us more like Jesus.

Women Like You

The stories told in this series are from real live women like you, who faced things they wanted to control but couldn’t. These women have struggled through fear, anxiety, anger, and frustration to work through in an ongoing way. But in the end, they have found that control doesn’t bring the peace, joy, and security they long for. These gifts are the result of surrender.

I hope that as you read these stories, you’ll be inspired, as I have been. I hope that you’ll consider the ways God is inviting you to a path that leads from Control Girl to Jesus Girl.

 

 

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

Control Girl to Jesus Girl

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

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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! Each Monday, I’ll be unpacking one of the quiz’s twelve questions. Also, on Thursdays, I’ll be telling your stories in a “Control Girl to Jesus Girl” series.

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

Control Girl to Jesus Girl

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

Share This: