Take the Control Girl 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.
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Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control
from Seven Women in the Bible.
Join me for a study of seven Control Girls of the Bible, who struggled with control in the same way we do: they pushed for their own agendas, tried to make everything turn out according to their plans, and made everybody miserable in the process. By comparing their stories with ours, we learn—in hundreds of ways and examples—that God is in control and we aren’t. And He invites us to live like it’s true.