Back in my teens and twenties, if you had asked, “Do you have control issues?” I would have given you a sweet, but dismissive, smile. Me? Controlling? It never crossed my mind.
I knew, of course, that there were manipulative, pushy, demanding women in the world who made life miserable for others, but I did not count myself among them. Yet I wish now that I would have. It’s way better to know that you have a problem, than to live in oblivion.
Looking back, all the signs were there. I just wasn’t looking for them.
Are you? Here are five signs that you—as sweet as you are—might be more controlling than you thought. And what to do about it, if you are.
1. You hate being bossed.
Does your bossy roommate get under your skin? Does your pushy, manipulative has-to-have-her-way sister drive you nuts? Do you constantly feel like your mom is guilting you? Does every single rule make you want to throw a punch? Are you instantly annoyed when someone tells you what to do, or cuts in while you’re talking?
I’ve noticed that those who are most bothered by controlling women usually are controlling women. They butt heads with the other person in the room who wants what they do—control.
2. You erupt or seethe.
Do you get mad when someone cancels plans? Do you erupt when someone interrupts your plans? Do you inwardly seethe when you don’t get your way? Are you passive aggressive, when someone takes your idea, your place in line, or that brownie you had your eye on?
Anger is common for Control Girls. Our anger flares when we lose the thing we want, which is control. And as a rule, both of these—losing our grip on control and losing our tempers—happen far more frequently than we’d like.
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3. You fret or stew.
Do you worry about safety precautions? Germs? Symptoms you’re experiencing? Do you obsess over what friends might be saying about you? Or what your boss might be thinking? Do you imagine the worst when your boyfriend doesn’t text back?
What about fear of the future? Do you worry that you’ll never graduate, never find a husband, never have a baby, or never get hired?
Fear and anxiety are common for Control Girls because we constantly are faced with things that we cannot control—like the future, unknowns, risks, and what others think.
4. You’re trying to be perfect.
Do you stay up all night to finish a project, an assignment, or to practice your music for worship team? Do you drive yourself beyond healthy boundaries with food, exercise, or sleep? Would others say you’re obsessive about your work, your appearance, your tidiness, your budget, or your schedule?
Perfectionism is common for Control Girls. In our insecurity over the things we can’t control, we tend to turn to that which we are to manage with white-knuckled determination. Yet even with our fingernails cutting into our palms, perfect keeps slipping from our grip.
5. God seems far away.
Does it seem like God is too distant to hear your prayers? Do you think of God as indifferent, apathetic, or disinterested? Does it seem unlikely that he would ever concern himself with things that matter to you?
If you’re suspicious of God’s motives or you question whether He cares, you won’t surrender to Him. It wouldn’t make sense! Why would you trust a God who isn’t even watching when you take a leap of faith?
Only the one who sees God as both the sovereign king and the loving, attentive Abba Father will choose to live in surrender to Him. The rest, by default, will live like Control Girls—doing the best they can to keep everything on track.
Laying Down My Burden
If you find yourself on this list, don’t be shocked. You’re definitely not alone. And don’t despair, either. Claiming control as your very own problem is step number one.
As we explore this topic together, here’s what I want you to remember. Control is not a burden God designed for you to carry. If you try to, you’ll only become a fretful, frantic, explosive, nagging, exasperating, angry Control Girl—who makes everyone around you miserable.
God invites you to live as though He’s the one in control—which means you don’t have to be.
Next time one of these five signs start showing up in your heart or on your face, and you realize that you’re more controlling than you realized, do this. Say out loud, “God, I believe that You’re the one in control, not me.” Then go live like it’s true.
Do you know a girl, ages 15-25 who might be a Young Control Girl? Will you send THIS INVITE her way?
Check out my Bible study, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible.