I know I’m not the only one that has control issues. Would it be nice to delegate tasks to others and take some stress off my shoulders? Sure. But then I’d just stress that they’re not doing it the way I would. Who’s with me? But if we’re supposed to have faith in a bigger power and a greater plan for our lives, how do we surrender control?
This is one of those things that creates a power struggle in my mind. As I continue to build my relationship with God, I want to have unwavering faith in Him and His plan for my life. I want to replace all of my worries with trust. It’s so easy to say I want to surrender control. However, I also want to know exactly when and how everything will happen. I want to know the impact my actions will have. And, on occasion, I think I have things figured out enough to assume I know what is going to take place. And we all know what happens when we assume things…
My mind works on overtime. It likes to analyze things. It’s no surprise I make a good Financial Analyst. It also means I think about things I don’t need to. I imagine all kinds of crazy scenarios that will likely never occur, but I play them out in my head anyway. While that may be great when I’m writing, it’s not so great when I turn every small decision into a cluster. Like what would happen if we move our kids to a new school? Sure, they’ll probably make new friends and do okay. But what if they don’t get the education they’re supposed to or the experiences they need to properly reach their potential, and I effectively set them up to fail at realizing their purposes in life? Sigh.
So how do I surrender?
Step 1: Recognize
Once I realize my wheels are spinning in the muddy gunk of worry and speculation, I take a deep breath. I clear my mind. I tell myself to stop (sometimes out loud). Then I back up and think about what it is I’m really spinning around. After I have that identified, I determine whether or not it is something I can control.
It turns out there are actually very few things I can control:
It really all comes down to my choices. While they can seem instinctive or out of my control at times, I do choose my feelings, attitude, and actions. Or at least, I choose how long I want to stay in those feelings or keep that attitude. However, I cannot control what others do or what happens to me. And, as much as I would like, I really cannot control the outcome of my choices. At most, I can just increase the odds. For example, choosing to wear a hat outside in twenty degree temperatures will increase the likelihood that I will remain healthy, but it certainly does not guarantee I will not catch a cold.
If it is not something I can choose, I release it (see Step 3), but if it is a choice I can make, I seek guidance through prayer.
Step 2: Pray
Once I’ve recognized what’s really weighing on my mind and that it’s within my control, I pray on it. I lay out my thoughts to God. I identify the choice I have to make, my concerns, and my desired outcome. While many things are outside of my control, I still believe it is important to ask for what I want and be intentional in these requests. After all, I prescribe to the “ask, believe, receive” and “power of positive thinking” belief systems.
I ask God for guidance so I can make the right choice. And by right choice, I don’t mean what I want or think is right. I am asking that He reveal to me the choice that aligns with His will and His plans. Then if what I want and what I am supposed to do are two different things, I have to actually accept this and follow through. Control issues and stubbornness – yes, I have them both!
Finally in these prayers, as with most of my prayers, I find something to be thankful for. I give thanks for the situation or the person or even the smallest detail. I also acknowledge the fact that everything I do and ask for is at the mercy of God’s will and timeline. And above all, I want to live my life and make my choices in accordance with His plan.
Step 3: Release
The last step is for me to surrender and let it go. Whether or not my concern is something I can control, I release it to God. I give Him my worries and place the decision in His hands. For those things outside of my control, I may still declare my desires, but in the end I am still surrendering the outcome to God.
Truly letting go has been the hardest part for me. I can recognize and I can pray. I can even say I give it to God. But letting go and not worrying anymore, no longer dreaming up every scenario and possibility, is significantly more difficult.
I am not saying that I plan to just give up everything and sit around waiting for results. That’s not how it works. I have to be intentional in my words and actions. I have to seek opportunities and be open to signs and guidance. I’m certainly far from perfect. This is one of those things I’m still working on. But by identifying this simple process, it makes it a lot easier to be consistent and work to surrender the control.