We can be such control freaks. We’ve just gotta have the detailed scoop about what’s happening in our lives at every moment, or we don’t feel like we have it together. We need all our ducks in a row, everything planned out so we can sleep well at night. We really think we’re running things in our lives when we make these plans. The truth is, no matter how well we prepare our situations, anything can happen to change them (and many times does), usually to our dismay. Then we panic. The one or two scenarios we had so carefully planned out have now fallen through, and we’re lost, afraid there’s no other way to get things done than what we came up with. We end up more uncomfortable when we resist the change, out of fear, and then exert a lot of energy trying to fight it. There’s nothing wrong with double checking to make sure things can’t be done the way we want; it’s when we go into freak-out mode after hearing no, and start attempting to force the plan(s) into motion, that we’ve entered an unhealthy spiritual realm.
Then, there are the times when we’re too afraid to make moves unless a firm plan is in effect and we know how things will be accomplished. A great opportunity comes along, a goal we want to realize, but certain elements are missing at the moment that we feel are needed before we can accept it. At that point, because we think it’s backwards and senseless to move ahead with something when key factors are absent [read: not yet visible to us], we think we’re not supposed to do it, so we decline our blessing fearing that things can’t possibly work in our favor. We’ve been conditioned to do and not do things based on our current assets, or lack thereof: “You shouldn’t quit your job before you’ve found a new one; you won’t be able to support yourself.” “Don’t bother applying for a loan for that house; your credit is shot and you’ll get turned down.” “Why are you enrolling in school when you don’t even have the money for classes?” We can be such limited-thinking people that it’s sad; and we miss out on a lot that life has to offer when we stay in this space. Where is our faith, our trust that when we pursue things that are important to us, no matter what our current circumstances, we’ll have what we need when it’s all said and done? Although there were times that I was too scared to put faith into action, I'm here to tell you that I've had a lot of success when I have stepped out on faith and gone for something close to my heart, even though pieces of the puzzle were missing at first. At the perfect time, they appeared, and I was able to take full advantage of my ventures.
When we were newborns, the only way we could communicate to our parents that we needed or wanted something important was to cry. We had no choice, as beings who hadn’t yet learned the concept of rejection or not receiving, but to innately trust that we would be provided for. We had a desire, we cried, and someone eventually came through for us. We hadn’t developed the capacity to concern ourselves with what we thought needed to happen or be in place before we got it, or even who would get it for us. At that time, and even as we got older, our parents were our source of provision. Later, as religion was introduced to us, we were told that there was “something bigger than us” in charge that held the key to our provisions. We started experiencing asking and not receiving, from various sources, not just our parents. We started witnessing and hearing about planning, and being told how critical an act it was if we were to lead an “orderly” life. We learned that if you don’t plan properly, things likely won’t work out. All of these experiences and information instilled us with fear, and because of it, our sense of faith was tainted, and we learned to live—and even desire—with restrictions.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a good plan; it’s actually advised in many cases. I’m the first to admit that not only do they make me feel better, but a lot of times they also work. It feels great when I plan something out, awesome strategy lined up, and it goes off without a hitch, yielding me exactly what I want or need in the end. Yep, sometimes plans are wonderful, but sometimes … not so much. I’ve had more than my share of failed attempts to “make” something happen. No matter how beautiful the arrangement was, no matter how many reliable people were involved, no matter how much money, time, knowledge, or clout I had, sometimes things fell through, and there was nothing I could do about it. I was reminded in those times that I was officially not in complete control of my circumstances or environment. We never really are. The only things we can truly control are our thoughts, words, and actions. Everything outside of those three things is wild-card territory. As much as we’d love to think we “know” what’s gonna happen for and to us, the fact is we can’t know from moment to moment what life will toss on our path. The doctor who’s making six figures today may lose his job next week, even if he’s the hardest working, most dedicated fella at the hospital. Your car may suddenly have a flat this morning, and you’re already running late for that important meeting. How’s that possible? There was air in it last night when you parked it, right? The woman who thinks she’s having a baby boy ends up with a girl … but she and hubby have everything in place for their son. Little girl all dressed in blue, anyone?
When we get attached to results we hope will stem from plans we’ve concocted or taken part in, assume specific resources or people will always be available when we need or want them and panic when they’re not, stress ourselves out worrying about how or when we’ll get something when we’re already doing our best to acquire it in a respectable manner, break our necks trying to force people’s hands to get what we want, only move forward in life based on what we have or assume we need, and fly off the handle whenever things don’t go the way we think they should, we are all the way out of the faith zone. I understand that it’s difficult to stay there sometimes; I’m not exempt by any means. I’ve had to talk myself down from the panic ledge more often than you know. It’s a daily challenge to stay away from it. But what I’ve found is that when I manage to only focus on staying clear about my goals (not ones imposed on me by others), ensuring that my thoughts, words, and actions are healthy at all times, trusting that I can and will be provided for in an unlimited number of ways and not just the ones my tunnel-visioned brain thinks of, and doing my very best to make faith-based efforts (not fear-based ones) when moving through my circumstances, my life is so much smoother, I’m calmer, and things fall into place even better than anticipated most of the time.
I’m learning to “lose control,” in the best way possible, a way that opens me up to all, not some, of the possibilities this life has to offer me. Relaxing, trusting that I won’t be deprived, and relinquishing [perceived] control of my situations is actually freeing. I’m teaching myself to master the process. I invite you to join me. Let’s all break down our walls of fear, lose control together, and live the most awesome lives we can.
From my book Building Faith and Character Through Life Challenges