Monday, December 3, 2012

I'm outta control!

So, I was out of the country last week, as I mentioned in last Monday’s post. And I missed posting on Thursday. Let’s say, I’m getting behind in a lot of things. I’m being clearly reminded how much in my life is out of my control.

The trip to Europe, for instance, came out of a business phone call the Wednesday before Thanksgiving – a call I should not have had, by the way. But I did have the call, and I did get sent to Europe. And, yes, I could have refused to go, but my agreement with my employer is that I will work and he will pay me, so I went.

Thanksgiving weekend revealed other things that were out of my control. For instance, on Friday evening, I ran up on the curb outside my sister-in-law’s home in New York. And the side wall of my tire blew out. And my new car has no spare. (As a cost- and weight-savings, automakers often put in a can of compressed air with goop to plug a puncture in the tire rather than fitting the vehicle with a spare tire. If you blow out the side wall, the goop does no good.) So I called roadside assistance (came with the new car, thank goodness) and had the car towed to a dealership where I bought a new tire the next morning. But that delayed our departure, and got us home that much closer to my departure for Europe.

I am not a big fan of being out of control. In fact I hate it. It’s more than an annoyance for me, and I know it. And I’ve taken and am taking steps to deal with it. I’ve been to counseling, which was very helpful. And I participate in a 12-step program.

My need for control is Natural Man writ large. And the remedy is simple, yet very hard for me. In order to deal with my need for control, I need to give up control.

King Benjamin said,

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
That idea of submitting is all about giving up control, or rather recognizing one’s lack of control.

Here’s a partial list of things I don’t control:

1. The weather
2. My wife
3. My children
4. My boss
5. My staff
6. Any other human
7. My dog

And here’s a complete list of what I can control:

1. My reaction to events around me.
There are even parts of me I cannot control, but what I can learn to do is to control my reaction to what happens around me.

Over a series of posts (maybe the next few, maybe over the next few weeks) I’ll talk about ways I’m learning to control my reactions to things around me. Maybe that discussion will help you as it does me. Hope you’ll come along for the ride, but, of course, I have no control over that. ;-)


  1. Ha! I am a very controlling person, and need to let go of my desire to maintain everything around me to a certain set of standards that I have pre-appointed. It's exhausting and annoys everyone! Can't wait to read your tips.

  2. Yeah, tips or self-therapy. We'll see... :-)

  3. Ironically, even our reactions are sometimes things we cannot always control -- our powerlessness really runs deep as humans.

    What I love about the 12 steps is that they help me become aware of the things that I can't control so that I CAN choose to turn them over to God and open myself up to His help in having my nature change so that my responses are different.

    Maybe it seems like I'm splitting hairs, but I think sometimes we do think we have more control over ourselves than we really do. We need God's help so much.

    (And I believe you believe this, Paul, so I don't mean to distract from your post. I've already read your second post in the series and loved it. Thanks for writing these.)

  4. h&h: "I think sometimes we do think we have more control over ourselves than we really do"

    Me, too. Thanks for reading.