God is everything, or He is nothing.
Everything that I have comes from God.
Focus on others instead of myself.
As I have previously shared, I am a control freak. I know it, my wife knows it, and my kids even make fun of me. When my 10-year-old daughter, Kerah, fails to meet the expectations when picking up her room, she tells me to quit being a professional, or profectionist. I do what a perfectionist does. I correct her first, and then insist she work harder and do it right.
I grew up in a pretty chaotic family dynamic. By chaotic I mean unstable. Alcohol, rage, abuse, divorce, manipulation, jealousy, condemnation, drama, among others plagued my family. I learned to cope the best I could, often burying my head in the pillows drowning out as much of the screaming and yelling as I could, praying to a God I didn’t know anything about, because my mind could only imagine the worst. Pretty soon, time after time, I learned to bear the night and wait for morning where it was treated as if nothing ever happened. But I was the baby, and maybe more was hid from me. I don’t know. Even then, I always had a feeling of being a coward, because I could never find the courage to stand up and defend my mom and sisters even though I was only a young child. I made a promise to myself to never live like that as an adult. I will control my environment, my temper, choose my friends, and do what makes me feel the safest. If I can’t do that around others, I will be just fine by myself. I don’t need anything I can’t provide for myself or anyone to help me get it. I’m a problem solver. And I solved this problem with one word: CONTROL. Or so I thought.
Obviously, I had some pretty messed up views on life, family, relationships, and God. After being forced out of home at 18, I managed to earn an engineering degree, work in construction, become a son in a new family, move back home, marry the only girl I had ever dated, and become a farmer. All while God was repairing and restoring those messed up views through a son, a daughter, nieces, nephews, and close family and friends. But like in construction, I became very good at patching the drywall, slap on some texture, and put on a nice new coat of paint to cover the imperfections. But some jobs require a little more in-depth remodel. And depending on the damage, sometimes you have to demo it all the way back to the studs and framing. Well, in my case, I realized I needed to go further than that and go back to the foundation.
I wasn’t taught about God during these chaotic times. God’s presence didn’t exist in our home then. I didn’t have an understanding of who He is. In that absence, I developed false truths along the way. My views on love, trust, right, wrong, and fair came from experience. I’ve experienced three fathers now: a biological earthly father, an adoptive earthly father, and a Heavenly Father. Then I became a father. Although I have learned to love and trust Pa, my adopted father, and God, my Heavenly Father, I still experience times of doubt and insecurity that hinders and strains these relationships. It is like those old ideas and beliefs are so entrenched in who I am that it takes a real battle to overcome. I know that there is night and day difference in all three, but I still fall back to the negative feelings and emotions of my first experiences. I fight like heck to not pass it on to my kids, my wife, and my family. But then I feel like I fail more than I succeed and start the cycle all over again. I have been learning to overcome these insecurities, doubts, and frustrations by relying on my Heavenly Father more instead of myself. Yes, I am trying to give up my control. As John said, “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30) Some days I am better at it than others, but that is okay. God’s grace is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
What is working for me? I must recognize the things that trigger these thoughts, feelings, and ideas. When I get overwhelmed, stressed, and unsure of things, that is a trigger for me to go on defense. My first instinct is to react out of the same fear I grew up with. That fear inevitably leads to control, which fails and then leads to anger. Anger and fear are opposite sides of the same coin. Anger just leads to behavior I regret and then the more out of control I feel, the more the desire to control takes over until either I give in, give up, or stop the vicious cycle by turning to the Bible to gain perspective. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
Once I recognize these triggers, I use three truths God revealed to help me refocus on Him and His plan for me. First, I must define who God is to me. God is everything, or He is nothing. This is a choice for me to make. Do I see Him as everything to me, or do I view myself as greater than Him and make Him nothing, or meaningless in the moment. This means there is no straddling the fence. It reminds me that I can’t pick some situations for Him to be God, and some where He can’t. How can I say on one hand that a problem is too big for him and then on the other hand acknowledge that He has created everything just by speaking it into existence. He IS God no matter what it is, and I choose to believe Him. My viewpoints about God, no matter how true they may be, or how distorted they may be, do not change who He is. The question is, do I have the faith to trust and follow Him, or do I allow myself to fall back to the lies and insecurities and do my own thing?
Second, everything that I have comes from God. I mean everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” This has helped me with resentment and jealousy towards God and others. I would often wonder why God allowed those things to happen in my childhood that others did not experience. But I also know that there are whole lots more people that have experienced things way worse. I am blessed beyond belief. God has been so good to me. He has worked a great work in me that is continuing daily. With all my heart, I don’t fully know why I have had to deal with those things as a child, but I know it has made me the person I am today. It was His choice. He didn’t leave or abandon me, and through time the relationship has grown. I don’t take help, compliments, or gifts well, because I always feel like there has to be a catch. But as a father, I want to give to my kids. I am realizing that God also wants to do the same. So it is easier for me to accept things as coming from Him. And if I am struggling with a situation, I believe He is bringing it to me for me to learn, grow, and trust in Him.
Finally, I would say that one of the most important things I can do is to focus on others instead of myself. Christ clearly commanded us to love one another. When I look to help, love, and encourage others, the focus is on doing God’s will. When I am fearful of what people think, how they treat me, or what they want from me, I am back in protection mode and can’t see God’s will, or the needs of others. Although, I am not a very vocal, open person, I do care for those relationships God has grown with my family and friends. I want to be a good father, husband, son, brother, uncle, and friend. My hope is that I can learn to completely surrender my desire and need of control. By doing so, I can see how relationships with those I care about could be drastically better.
Forgiveness, trust, and unconditional love are all things I am trying to repair on my foundation. Then from there, I just take it day by day until the rest of the building is done. I hope that if you struggle with being a control freak, you can let go of those things that keep you from drawing closer to God and remember this verse I often quote:
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
1 John 4:4
— Written by Lee