Let Go and Stop Trying to Control

If you don’t struggle with the need to control, you probably know someone who does. Those compelled to control go through life hyper-vigilant about doing things right, being proper, keeping things orderly. Unfortunately, controllers often forget that people aren’t things. People are messy and they don’t like being controlled.

  • A wife can’t stop picking on her husband’s appearance to the point he loses his temper and yells, “Stop trying to be my mother!” 
  • A frustrated mother hijacks her daughter’s wedding preparations because she’s concerned her daughter isn’t attending to the details “correctly.” 
  • A young mom congratulates her five-year-old for doing a good job making his bed – as she follows behind him remaking the bed.

God says, “Stop fighting and know that I am God! I am the one who defeats the nations; I am the one who controls the world.”

– Psalm 46:10 ERV

Controllers may say they are doing things “for your own good,” or because they love you. But in reality, controllers are highly insecure people whose sense of worth is dependent on you doing what they think is right or appropriate. The lack of healthy boundaries and a need to control displays a lack of trust – in others and ultimately, in God.

When you are a controller, your relationships suffer. People avoid you, pacify you and lie to you because they learned a long time ago that you can’t relate to them in a healthy, adult way. As people distance themselves emotionally and physically, you feel more and more isolated. Controllers are often lonely because of the lack of authenticity in their relationships. They are also frustrated by their failed efforts to control people who don’t want to be controlled

Experience the freedom in learning to release control.

Controllers may find it easy to control compliant small children, but it gets much harder as their kids reach the rebellious teen years. Controllers can also do emotional harm to their children by instilling in them unhealthy emotional dependency. In marriage, a controlling spouse will create resentment and withdrawal in their partner.

Of course, the converse is how God handles control. God is in control, but He’s not a controller. He gives us free will. He allows us to choose – and to experience the consequences of our actions. This is illustrated in the parable of the prodigal son when the father gave his son his wealth, his blessing and the freedom to make his own choices (even bad ones). (See Luke 15:11-32.)

It’s important to realize you really don’t control anything outside of your actions and how you choose to respond to your circumstances. Remember, you don’t measure your worth or your success by whether people follow your advice. There’s freedom in learning to release control, and you also can sleep better at night!

Today’s One Thing

If you tend to be a controller, first recognize that you have a problem. Controlling behavior is prideful behavior. Ask God to:

  • Teach you the discipline of humility.
  • Give you insight about why you feel you need to control.
  • Help you trust Him for the future.
  • Then practice self-restraint. Bite your tongue, even walk away when the compulsion to control is strong. 

Patterns of behavior don’t change overnight. But awareness is the beginning of change.

Go Deeper

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