If there’s someone alive who has uttered those two words in succession more than I have, I’d like to meet them, as I may feel better about myself. It is through my incessant use of this phrase that I’ve seen a tendency in myself to desire control. If something goes wrong, I want it to be my fault. If something goes right, I want it to be because of me. Because of this, I’ve gone through life with an incredible burden on my shoulders, that most things I do are dependent upon me. If my team loses in Sunday afternoon soccer, it’s because I made a few bad passes or took bad shots or didn’t defend enough. If someone I know is sick, it’s somehow my fault. If something’s not done at work, even if we were ridiculously busy, I make it my fault.
[it is for this reason that Good Will Hunting is one of my favorites if not my favorite movie. The “it’s not your fault” scene is cathartic for me.]
But control can just as easily be an idol as it is a fault (not that there’s a difference, both are bad things.) I desire my control and I don’t know what to do when I lose it. I don’t know what to do when someone I know is suffering physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially and I can’t do anything about it. Unfortunately, that’s because I’ve cultivated a habit not of prayer, but of trying to take control of situations when what I need to do is relinquish control and trust God.
This is particularly difficult now that I’m in a relationship. This morning Erica told me she’s sick. My instinct was to feel helpless, and in feeling helpless, worthless. In feeling worthless, I demeaned myself and ended up making the whole ordeal about me – how I sucked as a boyfriend, how I sucked as a man, how I’m a bad caretaker, and how I’m so selfish. Instead, my response should be to evaluate the situation, relinquish control, and trust God the Father. She’s His daughter, and He’s the One who can make her well, not me.
That’s just a small example (as I’m learning, romantic relationships are good at helping us see our relationship with God in a different light, both ideologically as well as practically) of how I am so inclined to want to control and want to take on a burden that isn’t mine. I do it all the time. And yet I don’t get my hands dirty with general needs of people – I pick and choose and play favorites. This is the first of many things I need to die to, which will hopefully be a series of blogs that continues throughout the year.