I’ve been thinking a lot about control lately. Power. Authority. Rule. Sovereignty. Lately I have felt very out of control of my life. Like I don’t have the control, the power, the authority, the sovereignty that I once had over my life and what my life would look like. It’s an incredibly scary place to be.
For as much as I say that I believe I am not in control and that God is in control, I like acting like I am in control. I like feeling like I do have the power to determine my own life. I like being sovereign over my own life and will. But, lately I have had to come face to face with my own limitations and lack of control. It’s been uncomfortable at best.
Then there’s another aspect of control that I have been thinking about and that is relational control, power, and sovereignty.
For a long time I have talked about the value of community. I have talked about the importance of open and authentic community. I have dreamed of a place where people could really belong – a place where they could have fellowship with one another not just as saints, but as sinners – a place where they could be themselves and bring the wholeness of who they are, broken and beautiful, to others and receive love and acceptance and forgiveness – a place where people would meet each other’s needs and really love each other in active and living way, with words when words were needed and with tangible help when tangible help was needed. I’ve talked about this and dreamed about this and I’ve tried to be the kind of person that made other people feel comfortable enough around her that they could share of themselves and their lives. But, I think in many of my relationships in the past I have tried to maintain power and control. Not consciously, but I have done things unconsciously that allowed me to keep control and even power in my relationships.
For example the other day Bryan and I went to coffee with some friends, Bryan offered to treat, but they refused, knowing our situation, and offered to treat for us instead, we refused. The whole thing was pretty little but it got me thinking. I really like treating when we go out with people. I like being able to meet others needs and in the past I have thought that this was an appropriate and generous thing to like. But, I started thinking about why I don’t like to let others pay for me when I go out. In my refusal of their love and generosity I maintain a little bit of control and power. Instead of bowing myself to them and acknowledging my neediness and appreciation, I instead maintain a posture of pride and cling to a posture of power.
I also recently realized that I can be very selective in what I share about myself and my life with others. I am quick to talk about the importance of confessing and of sharing brokenness and neediness with others but I am incredibly slow to practice that. I don’t like letting people know the ugliness that is in me. I don’t like letting people know the real neediness that is in my life. I don’t like letting myself need someone else, or letting myself accept help or love from someone else. I will accept people into my life but only on my terms. I was thinking about this and I think that it is largely a defense mechanism and a way for me to allow myself to maintain some control of my life and some control in my relationships.
Yesterday a friend sent me this article about the Church of the Savior in Washington, DC. It was a very interesting article (though it is a bit long), but there was this one quote in it that really struck me:
“The surrender of sovereignty to this particular group of people feels like suicide, but any serious reading of the New Testament affirms that is the deal we take on.”
The surrender of sovereignty… the giving up of power, of control…
It is a difficult step to acknowledging that God alone is sovereign - That I am not sovereign and that I do not have control over my life. Acknowledging this and accepting it and giving myself completely over to the control and leading of God is perhaps a life long struggle… but, I got to thinking that maybe giving myself over to God’s sovereignty is just the start… maybe there is another step that needs to be taken in order for me to really surrender myself and learn to live a selfless life… Maybe I must also give myself over, surrender sovereignty, to Christ’s body. Maybe the degree to which I give myself to the people of God is the degree to which I give myself to God…?
This freaks me out. There is something in me which rises up and revolts against this… but, maybe that is the self that needs to be crucified with Christ…?
These are the thoughts that bounce around my head lately…
Rejoicing in the journey - Beth Stedman