The Royal Family and Control

Confession moment: I adore the British royal family. I like reading about them, watching films and documentaries on them. Maybe it’s the fascination with their structure and history that I just don’t see with our democratic structure here in the US. Or that I love the British in general.

I watched the news of Princess Kate’s third pregnancy announcement yesterday excitedly. Yay for other people having babies! I noticed on one news outlet’s coverage of the announcement they had the succession to the throne mapped out. With this announcement, Prince Harry (William’s brother, second son to Prince Charles) has now slid to sixth in line for the throne.

Something he has no control over-his birth order and the pregnancies of his sister in law- dictate what he will be able to do with his future. I can’t imagine that or what his desires might be, or how he is able to rectify that how dynamic.

I thought on that more as I read further into King David’s life in the Old Testament. He’d already incurred his own sons trying to overthrow his rule. Now as he lay on his deathbed word comes that his 4th son (one that in the natural succession line would take the throne) has decided to thwart his father’s-and God’s-plan for Solomon to assume the throne. He meets in secret with those who aren’t loyal to his father and then publicly sacrifices offerings to name himself the new king.

My thoughts went directly to questioning Abinojah and his crafty nature. He had no control over his father’s proclamation, or God’s larger plan. So instead of acquiescing to the plans he takes them into his own hands to manipulate and control. Then I saw a lot of myself in him…desiring to control his own life and what he felt was his. His life, his plan, his control.

Oof.

How hard is it to accept God’s plan when it’s not what you would’ve made for yourself? How difficult is it to rectify your desires and plans with God’s? What do we sacrifice in order to live within the authority of God Himself in every area of our life?

I know for me I’d much rather have the control and say so, being able to pursue the desires I deem worthy and good. But that’s not what God plans for us most of the time.  He wants good for us, but not on our terms and in our ways. It’s a life of bowing in submission to the throne, to the rule and authority of God Himself and how that looks in our life…and not in anyone else’s. It means realizing we cannot control which a Sovereign God controls.

It means that sometimes we are sixth in line to succeed and we must relinquish any idea that we can control that.

Saul, Pride and The Wait

A while ago, the exact date I cannot recall, I remember praying for deliverance from a situation. It was a situation that I had wrestled, fought against, and made myself low in simply to find the means to get through it and into a new season. I kept finding myself back there, back in the situation that brought hurt, frustration and humiliation to some degree. As I asked God for deliverance, I defined how it should come forth. How He should provide it and what it should look like. I gave Him the story of deliverance to bless it, even in my most broken and convicted state.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of  the situation long enough to see how He was going to deliver me. I wanted the situation shuttled away, the person that was at the core of the frustration removed, all the while He was using me to refine and grow.

As I read through 1 Samuel this morning on the anointing of Israel’s first prince (Saul) and his reign over the course of five chapters I couldn’t help but see some of situation play out. What struck me was in the waiting on God to go before him in battle, Saul decided to take matters into his own hands. Specifically, he manipulated godly offering to justify his own inadequacies and fears. Moments after doing so, the promised arrival of the prophet and priest Samuel comes to fruition, laying bare Saul’s foolhardiness and prideful disobedience.

Years later, looking back on that season of life, I see that I was trying to manipulate my offering to God. Yes, you can have the situation and circumstances but only if you bless this specific outcome. Yes, I give this over to you, but only in this way and only if you deliver me in the way I have laid out for you. 

And I can honestly say I have done it since then, but not in such a large and bold manner. Not with such prideful disobedience to say that I would take the very thing God has given and use it for my own gain. It’s the evidence of a heart that still battles the sinful nature, a heart that desires control and knowledge beyond understanding. It’s the heart that tries to put itself on equal footing with God, when in fact it should be bowing in reverence, fear, and praise to Him.

When we define how God should work in our life, putting parameters and our limited thinking over His sovereignty we tell Him (and those around us) that we know better. We box Him into this far off God who does not care about the lives of His children instead of the truth that He does care, He does hear, and He does actively work in our lives for the good of all of us. That good doesn’t get defined by us in one moment/season/stage. We would choose the lie of our heart’s prideful disobedience rather than Truth which has redeemed us, carried us, and led us for far longer.

Maybe you haven’t dealt with this, or maybe you are smack dab in the middle of praying your way through a situation but giving God the directions as if He needed them. Instead of diagrams and manipulations of His will, today let’s release ourselves from the pride, the disobedience, the control and with open hands give God the entire situation as we wait. Waiting in obedience for Him to work as He deems good, and not how we define it for ourselves.

Illusions of Control

How is Halloween over? It’s November 1st and we are dive-bombing straight into holiday season aren’t we?

Halloween has always been a fun time for me. I love the whole candy/dress up/festive nature of it. So many people take it to an extreme in either direction but I like to nestle in right in the middle. I enjoy campy scary movies, costumes and ridiculous ideas for goodies. There’s exactly one photo of me dressed up as a kid, and it was taken at school over lunch in the cafe-gym-a-torium. (What, your cafeteria wasn’t the gym and the auditorium too? You were missing out!)

I was a witch, and I don’t even recall that costume. I do however remember a Jem costume (which I touched on last week) and I recall that year in college I dressed as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I always picked strong females to go as. This year I constructed a lovely combo and the end result was this:

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Yes, I am a Price is Right contestant…and a fabulous one at that I might add.

But this all got me thinking, as most holidays tend to do. I think the reason why we all love Halloween so much is the illusion of controlling who people see us as is so prevalent.

Hang with me here, as I know we jumped from Plinko to pursuing control rather quickly.

It’s the illusion we all walk around with daily, on social media, in the office, in stores and with one another. We want others to see us in the way we have crafted, with almost too much perfection, rather than the way we were crafted to be. Because we were crafted as image-bearers. Reflections of the Divine, but broken.

In that broken, we just cannot manage. We cannot cope and we run to things to sew onto ourselves so that we are hidden. The we that shows our faults, our ugly bits, and who we were crafted as. So we feverishly hone the art of controlling the illusion of control. We chip it away, we polish it up and we put it on display. We hide away the parts that have been brought to our attention so that others cannot see them-see the real us, the faults.

We take ourselves right back to the beginning, there in the Garden, to the original sin all in the name of control. In the name of having control because it’s too hard to not have it. It’s much more difficult for us to relinquish and let go, trusting that He has it all planned and we just aren’t privy to it. We desire after that knowledge, and controlling how others see us is exactly how we can map out life in a controlled environment.

I keep saying we here because I am guilty of it too…seeking the illusion of control in order to be something other than what I was created to be. His reflection. The bearer of His image. Because when I seek that control, when I knit those fig leaves together to cover up, I am telling Him His image isn’t good enough for me. It’s not worthy and I don’t trust Him with knowing me.

Oh it stings to get to that realization, to see exactly what the lie of control really does, what it really communicates. It’s saying He isn’t enough. That He’s not trustworthy with my life. That faith cannot solely rest in Him because I know more, I am better. It’s a lie friends. A lie we have believed from the beginning that we can be more, and that if we but believe in the illusion of control then we will be more than what He has created us to be.

Frankly, I am just tired of the illusion and trickery. I am no longer a kid prone to magic tricks and tales. But I still dress up as though I believe it…so what if we decided to stop with the belief in the illusion? What would that look like within our own hearts, our lives, our relationships?

It’s November 1st y’all. It’s time to take off the costumes, the masks and relinquish the illusions we have carried up to now.

Control Freak

Inherently we all like control, over something or someone. There’s a pull from within, at our very core, that seeks out control in our lives. You find those who say there is nothing in this life to control and then on the other end of the spectrum, those that say if you want anything in this life you have to gain control. We all fall along that spectrum somewhere, in some part of our lives (or even in all parts for many). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has some links to issues of control and managing of one’s life. Perfection is achieved through control, right?

For many of us, including me, control manifests out of a fear of the unknown. It also comes out of a desire for a certain, favorable outcome. Both, when pushed to the brink, have such negative effects on our lives and our relationships. We grasp and strain harder against the unknown factors, and fear whispering in our ear, to gain that one thing we want to come out right, that one relationship we want to work. We grip and hold tightly, we manage and micro-manage. We grow frustrated and confused, ultimately laying flat in exhaustion simply from pursuing after the things which we never had control of to begin with.

Recently I was reminded by a friend that we really have no control over things or people, the circumstances or what we are given to deal with. We simply can choose our response to them. We can choose our attitude and our effort in those things, and that is it.

At least I am finally coming to see that.

It took me quite a while, and much thrashing about with myself, to arrive at this place though. To figure out that the only thing I should and can control is my attitude and the effort I give to life, to relationships, to my work, to God. I have control over that entirely, regardless of others, their reactions, their own issues of control or other circumstances.

I don’t know where you are today, in what situations you find yourself in at work, in your marriage or lack thereof, in your relationships or with God. But I hope you are able to gain control over your attitude and your effort instead of trying to do that with others or situations. Because it’s fruitless, only causing harm and a ripple effect on all those you come into contact with (and possibly those you don’t). It’s a work, and a long work in progress at that. But let’s stop grasping for control outside of ourselves and instead gain it from within.

Though Darkness Fills the Night…

I have been asked often why I blog, why I choose to share some pretty raw, personal glimpses into my life and my journey. Throughout the four years I have been writing on this blog (or the 1.0 version of it back on another host) it’s been about sharing. Not a narcissistic need to share my life, but to be open about life so that others wouldn’t feel alone or as if they were the only one who had ever experienced something in life. Sometimes its funny on here, sometimes I geek out about something, but often my goal is to simply share my heart with those of you throughout the world. Sometimes it is rather ugly and messy, and other times it is quiet and just a reflection of where God has me dwelling presently.

For the last few months my life has been in a bit of a roller coaster themed ride. Some of you may have noticed that here on the blog as I have attempted to both conceal and share what I felt was pertinent at the time and I always want to be as transparent as I can on here. Unfortunately in that transparency and honesty, there has been an abuse of those vulnerabilities and attacks on my life. To be rather blunt, it’s been ugly…and not the kind we like to share. The kind that we fear and so we keep hidden, because we think surely there aren’t individuals such as this in the world. Surely there has to be a logical reasoning behind it and I will work to find that in order to process this on my own.

What I have found in the last four months of this continual barrage of attacks is that there is no logic. There is not a set way to look at someone and say “Ooooh, that’s what it is, that’s where I erred.” Because it’s not about me. It’s not. It is about the person who is doing the attacking. (While there may be instances of wrongdoing that warrant a response, this is not one of those.)

The ownership lies in their words, their actions, and what they knowingly choose each day and each moment to do, to write and to send. Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, Boundaries, has been a God-send through this journey (I highly recommend it to everyone), and he makes a spot on statement in regards to this.

I have no control over another person and I must focus on changing my reactions to that person. I must refuse to allow that person to affect me.

And that is exactly what I have done over the last few weeks. The person may continue what they feel is appropriate and right, but that does not mean I give it space or time, and most importantly, my attention. While they may take this post (and subsequent ones) to be about them, it’s about the community of sharing for us bloggers. It’s about bringing darkness to the light in order to breathe truth into all things. Hopefully that also breathes truth into the life of the individuals. It’s about speaking and showing truth.

It is not about my will to overcome this, because if I could do it on my own, I wouldn’t need a Savior. None of us would. It’s about allowing His truth and His timing into our lives, and resting in that knowledge that God’s bigger than any attack or abuse.

Pursuant to the matter at hand…

This year I am done pursuing. I am letting that go. I am not shutting myself off from interests, but I need to stop chasing.

As 2013 began, I gave great thought to what I wanted out of this year. The year I turn 32. I did not want to continue down the same road as before, where I resolved to do so many things that revolved around having a relationship with a man. Instead I was challenging myself to let go.

Let go of the mindset that a man completes me fully.

Let go of the pressures of a culture that says being single is not okay.

Let go of my tendency to control situations and circumstances.

So I did. Very nonchalantly and similar to cutting a cord. I just did it. I wasn’t going to dwell on my singleness but delight in it. I have time and freedom to work on the things I desire to accomplish and begin this year. I let go of the control that had felt like such pressure when I really stopped to look at it.

I am by no means saying I am model of perfection on this, cause I ain’t…seriously, I am at the other end entirely. I trip up and I fall. But my heart’s desire is for women, single ladies and college women alike to see the beauty in who they are now. Not to wait for a man to tell them they are, or aren’t. We are treasures to be pursued, not options to be danced in front of a man. We should be encouraging one another as women to uphold love and confidence with one another instead of tearing one another down.

imagesI don’t want to get on my soapbox but The Bachelor/Bachelorette show me just exactly why every young lady and woman feels the need to compete for a man’s attention or to chase after him. We say as a society it’s okay to throw yourself repeatedly at him, hoping he gives you a flower (along with 7 others) after he’s already made out with the girl you share a room with. I cannot even stomach the ads for that show because I sincerely worry what the young women and single ladies of today are being taught is acceptable in relationships.

Be pursued ladies. Let a man value you for what you truly are. Allow society and our culture to be drowned out by the quietness of being alone. It gets uncomfortable, it gets sad, and frankly there are days it absolutely sucks. I would rather trust in God’s best for me, than my own because honestly, His is way better.