There is one word that has caused men to strive for it, women to act like they are in charge of it, nations to fight over it and even Janet Jackson to sing about it...that is control. It is the one thing that we love to have in our lives and stress out and worry over when we feel like we lose it. And if you are like me, you don't just want control over yourself, you want control over every area of your life including your children, your home, your work and so on :)
Webster's defines control as: The power to influence or direct people's behavior or the course of events. I love this definition because it says so much to me. How I would love to be able to control other people's behavior. Especially how I want them to behave towards me! I am at the age that I can openly admit I like to be in control. I hate that feeling that I have no "influence" over how something is going to turn out. There are those free spirited people who are like hey whatever! Let's see where the wind blows...it will all work out how it's supposed to. Yeah...I'm not one of those :) If anything, I err on the opposite side. I often joke that this is how I pray..."Dear Lord, please take my life and fix this situation. And if you should need my help, I am available!"
I have been dealing with the issue of control lately because I just walked through a situation that was really out of my control. I had no "power of influence" over another person and the decision that they made. Even though that decision affected me, I had no control over it. That was a hard pill to swallow for me because I have always prided myself in the fact that I was in control. We would be so shocked to learn how really not in control we are of many things wouldn't we? :) I have struggled so much lately with wishing I could have a "do over" in my life. I am sitting here a middle aged person realizing that the way I thought parts of my life would go, did not go that way no matter how hard I tried to make them! I did not have control. And life doesn't work that way...you don't get do overs!! You only get opportunities to learn from past experiences and hopefully make better choices the next time around.
I am learning about the difference in control and influence right now in my life, especially with the help of my teenager! There was a day and time in his life where I was definitely in control! He needed me for everything. I was the constant in his life. I told him what and when to eat, when and where to sleep, laid out what he should wear, told him when and where he could or could not play, and so on and so forth. But the older he has gotten, the more and more I have had to relinquish certain control over certain things to him. Some of those I was more than happy to give to him. Yeah...diapers? Thank God for potty training. I was glad to give him control over that area of his life. Having to pick out his clothes everyday? Was more than happy to let him dress himself and even though some of his choices I raise my eyebrows at today, I am still glad that he takes care of that himself. But he is coming into his own in what and who he is and that is where mom is having to pry the fingers of control loose and let him discover who he is on his own and that has not been as easy!
I want to stay "in control" of some things because I have been there, done that and I don't want him to get hurt! But let's be honest. That is all part of it. If you didn't ever fail in life, you wouldn't know what it is to succeed. If I don't allow him to make a bad choice every now and then, how would he know what a truly good choice is? We have gone through this little battle of the wills lately because he has decided not to play football anymore. He is going into his sophomore year in high school. I am so frustrated, because he is good at it!! He is the perfect size for it. I remember loving sports in school and how great it was to be a part of a team and compete! I loved it. He has excelled at football up to this point. But he doesn't have the heart or desire for it anymore. Here is where my control has had to turn over to influence in his life. I have expressed my opinion on the subject numerous times. I have offered all of the pros to playing, stated all of the positives that he would gain from the experience. Even been tempted to bribe him with a "you can have this if you do that" offer. But he has countered with all of his own opinions and thoughts each time. Until I have decided that it is HIS decision not mine! I don't have to live with the consequence of it, he does. He will have to go to school and watch the guys that play. He will have to sit in the stands and watch them be on the field, knowing he could be there if he would have chose to be. And you know what, that is when he will decide if that decision was right for him or not. Me forcing my "control" on him to play would only accomplish frustrating him and me and make him be miserable doing something that he is so sure he doesn't want to do!
I have to allow him to have this control over his own life and know that it is more important for him at this moment to be the decider than it for me to be the boss! I have to choose to practice being a good influence in his life more than the person that just decides to tell him what to do all of the time. He is capable of making decisions. It's hard to accept that for us moms sometimes :) We have to admit then that our babies have grown up and they don't "need" us in the same ways anymore.
Working through this with my son has also made me realize that it has become time in my own life to reevaluate some things and decide where I should be myself. What do I allow to control my time, my thoughts? Am I allowing God to be in control of my steps or do I try to take that control from Him? Do I surround my self with good influence and positive reinforcement or do I only put myself around people who will tell me what I want to hear and do what I want them to do? Yes there are certain things in our life that we should take control over. Our minds, our thoughts, our prayer life, our devotion to our relationship to God and so on. But that control should only be a reflection of the greater control in our lives and that is the control that we place into the hands of the One who made us and knows us even better than ourselves. He will never steer us in the wrong direction. We may not always understand His timing or His ways, but He knows what is best for us and is always working all things for our good!
Walking through thing called life with you my friends! :)