My latest episode on Live Like It’s True is titled, “The Desire to Control my Husband”. (But if you have no husband, please note that this desire also pertains to you!). In the extended opening, I shared about how God opened my eyes to the root problem of control.
I never realized that I had control issues until I got married and had kids. I distinctly remember the day, in the kitchen, that I looked at my husband and said, “I was always so cheerful and carefree before I met you!” I thought he was the problem. And it wasn’t until about a decade later that I realized that I had a problem.
Beneath my Anger
I was driving in the car listening to Dee Brestin on the radio, and she was talking about how there are these surface level sins in our life that we know and recognize, which are fed by some underlying sin that we’re often blind to. As she talked about anger, I was inwardly nodding. Yes, I was well aware of my anger problem. I was reading books and keeping prayer journals, and asking God, “Help me stop blowing up at my husband and my kids!”
But then Dee talked about how our anger is sometimes fed by an underlying desire for control. Now that was new to me. Was my anger rooted in control? I decided to try out this idea. So every time I would feel anger rising inside me, I would ask, “Okay, Shannon. Is there something you’re trying to control here? Is there something you feel that you’ve lost control of?” More often than not, yes. My anger was being fueled by control.
I also noticed that my fear was fueled by control; not being able to control my circumstances or the outcomes in life. Also my anxiety was fueled by a lack of control over the unknowns and what the future might bring. Same with my perfectionism. I was trying to control my surroundings and the outcomes in life by driving myself to extremes.
I struggled with all of these things, but mostly anger.
Take a look at this photo. It might look pretty picture perfect, but it wasn’t. Behind the matching clothes and stacks of gifts and decorated tree was a wife and mom who was trying to squeeze everyone into my version of perfect—then blowing up behind closed doors when things began to unravel.
I was trying to stop. I was begging God to help me. And I was apologizing to my husband and my kids, with great agony over my sin. But I couldn’t. It was like trying to pick bad fruit off the tree without first digging up the roots.
Yet right around the time of this photo, God answered my prayers for help by giving me a sermon that changed everything for me.
Being Diagnosed as a Control Girl
The sermon preached by Pastor John Piper was on the verse Genesis 3:16—which is the same verse that Kelly Needham and I talked about on the podcast. This verse comes right after the part of the story where Adam and Eve ate the fruit, and sewed themselves covering, and then God comes looking for them, and asks Adam, “Where are you? Have you eaten of the tree I commanded you not to?” And to Eve, “What is this that have you done?”
And then God spells out Eve’s consequences. He says that from now on, she’ll have pain in childbearing, and then he says, “Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” So in the sermon, Pastor John Piper explained that this desire was for control. Eve had taken control by reaching for the fruit, and now she would have this craving to control everything—starting with her husband.
I remember I was listening to this sermon as I painted the laundry room. And when John Piper explained that my consequence, as a woman, is the desire to control everybody, I stood there, stunned, on the side of my ladder with paint dripping from my brush. I thought, “No wonder I’m trying to control my husband, my kids, my friendships… I’m a daughter of Eve, living under the burden of her consequences!” For me it was like being diagnosed with a degenerative disease passed on from generations back. Suddenly all of my symptoms made sense.
Are there Other Control Girls in the Bible?
Ultimately that study became my Bible study, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible. The seven women I studied were: Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, and Miriam. And that list is by no means complete; I just ran out of room in the book to include any more.
As I studied these women of the Bible, I realized that they were all doing what I try to do: They was trying to grab for or hold onto control, based on her small-minded perspective—and she was making everyone miserable. And the only way these women ever found the peace, security, and joy they were looking for (because isn’t that really what we want, when we reach for control?) was when they did the opposite of taking control, but instead, laid it down in surrender before God.
Do You Have Any Control Symptoms?
Do you see any signs of this consequence in your life? Any anger, anxiety, fear or perfectionism that might be rooted in an unhealthy desire for control? Could this verse explain some of the symptoms that you’ve noticed?
Listen in to my conversation with Kelly Needham about “The Desire to Control My Husband” and check out my book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible.
Join me for this nine week study.
“It Saved My Marriage”
More than once, a woman has told me that Control Girl saved her marriage. Another time, I was doing a zoom call with a group of women who had studied through Control Girl and a woman said, “Uh… my husband wants to talk to you…” She turned the laptop, and her husband shared his heartwarming gratitude for how the book had influenced their marriage positively.
Now, I know that I could never string together words powerfully enough to offer help to a struggling marriage. But I also know that God’s words can breathe new life into the most brittle of marriages. I’m grateful that he has allowed me to be part of the stories of some of my sisters and their husbands.
Friends, I think it’s a mistake that we don’t talk more about this issue of control and how it plagues our marriages. When we, as wives, look carefully at this consequence of control, and ask God to show us what’s really going on in our hearts and our marriages, we open our lives to His powerful, life-giving work.
These are some of the books that have helped me prepare for the conversations we’re having about the True Story of the Beginning. I highly recommend each of them. My book, Control Girl, includes a chapter on Eve, titled, “It Looked Good to me.”
(These are affiliate links, which means I am compensated a small amount if you purchase using my link.)
Recommended Podcast Episodes
These are some of the podcasts I have especially appreciated, and which have helped me prepare for the conversations we’re having about the True Story of the Beginning. I highly recommend each of them.Listen on Spotify
Season 4: The True Story of the Beginning
Here’s the full series of episodes:
Would You be Willing to Share?
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To help you, we’ve added a False Narrative Watchlist as part of the Live Like It’s True Workbook, which correlates with this Story of the Beginning series. This part of the workbook helps you to put side by side, the truths communicated in this story, next to the false narratives of the world. I hope you’ll pick up your free copy today!
- The 4-page True Story Worksheet
- The 1-page True Story Worksheet
- 2-sided bookmark with Study and Story Tools
- False Narrative Watchlist
- “Awakening to the False Narratives”
- Four Reasons Journaling Prompt
- Reading the Bible as Story, content directory from the Podcast
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