For the Heart with Control Issues

This summer, I found a stranger in my backyard: a baby bluebird. He was sitting on our rock wall looking slightly dazed and not at all uneasy at my presence, though his mom started screeching at me from the tree above when I approached. We have a few stray cats that come and go in our neighborhood, and since this bird was too young to fly, I did a little research about how to best take care of the situation.

Apparently touching a baby bird will chase its parents off, dooming it to loneliness and dependence on people (or death by the formidable, razor-clawed Pumpkin if left alone). My only option was to give the baby’s parents space to come rescue him and to shoo off Pumpkin and his evil gang in the meantime. I’m sure you’ll sleep better knowing the little fellow was eventually gathered up to his family and is now making a happy racket with the best of them.

This story ended well, but how many other instances in my life do I do the exact opposite? I recognize a problem, and then instead of giving God the space to work in His way and timing, I get my busy hands all over that thing and create an even bigger mess. The world and its maker obviously need my activity in every. single. aspect. of everything ever. Out of all of my personal struggles, my desperate grip on even the semblance of control is one of the most difficult. This overflows to my marriage, my family, my ministry, and my relationship with Jesus.

Do you know what? How small does my enormous need for control show God to be to me? Pretty dang. For instance, if it’s payday and our fridge is empty and the check is late, I can either 1. harass Riley to gripe at the person who issues our checks (which I am too holy and amazing a wife to have ever done—cough cough), or 2. depend on God and refuse to worry because we have never been in a situation where we had a legitimate need that went unmet. When I choose option 1, I’m picking up the baby bird and squeezing it to death (and making my husband and Paycheck Person miserable). But when I sit back, breathe, and ask Jesus to provide, He takes the bird and puts everything back where it belongs in a way that makes Him look good and me not look ten shades of crazy. And the bird grows up and sings.

As I began thinking about this topic, part of my heart raised her hand and said, “But God is a God of order—He cares about control. So I’m just being like Him.” True, heart, He does care about order: He cares about order so much you don’t need to worry about it. (Not that you don’t need to make it a priority, but you don’t need to actually worry about it. When God is involved—which is always—He creates a stress-free zone for you to choose to enter.) Because God is orderly and powerful and good, there is absolutely zero need for my manipulation and control. But this hasn’t been my typical acting belief. I don’t know about you, but my controlling tendency is a byproduct of fear. If I don’t want _____________ to fail, I must be in charge of it/her/him/them: the moment I step away, everything will fall to pieces. Not only is this prideful (and kind of silly when I step back from it), it’s exhausting and unrealistic. God doesn’t ask me to be the Savior; that job has already been taken. I’m simply called to abide in Him. And then imagine my joyful surprise when He gently scoops me up safely back into the nest!

P.S. I have a few books on my to-read list about this topic: She’s Got Issues and Let. It. Go. Hopefully they will help fill the gaps in my mind and heart that still linger. This life is a journey, and I’m so glad there is freedom in Christ to not have everything figured out.

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