When you fall into the unhappiness traps, you may discover you are a full blown control freak! This post examines the first two of four control freak identity crises that occur when we try and manage our lives through our own power. Spoiler: it’s not pretty.
Control Freak Identity Crisis #1 – Our Fears
I mean, who doesn’t like being the boss of everyone??? I do! I think I am pretty good at it, too. But the truth is, being a control freak does not exude Christ-like characteristics. We may even begin to believe we are helping God deal with our problems and continue to rely on our own power, which is always led by our character defects.
Over the years, I had to work hard to start recognizing when my fears (my biggest character defect) were running the show of my life. Fears of rejection or what others think of me drove me to try and portray an image to others that I thought would be liked and accepted. These fears influenced how I interacted with others. It was just easier to stay quiet and not speak up most of the time.
God has helped me to see I don’t have to let my fears run my life, but I must confess them. And honestly, talking about my fears and confessing them to others is scary! I mean, who wants to say out loud that they fear rejection and not being liked, or they fear the future, or how about the fear of conflict?
Once I finally admitted to God and others what my weaknesses are and how they were controlling my life, I found myself practicing being spiritually poor. Finally, as I made peace with accepting who I truly am, I began to find the happiness I so wanted.
I was able to see that I had to make a conscious decision to face my fears, to own them. I was finding freedom and confidence in speaking the truth about who I really am. There is a verse I found that was instrumental in helping me with my fears: “Fear of human opinion disables, trusting in God protects you from that.” Proverbs 29:25
By arming myself with God’s truth, I could now face why and how I developed my fears and work on trusting God with the areas of my life I’d try to control for so long.
However, when we refuse to own our fears, we can — and usually will — move into other control freak ways.
Control Freak Identity Crisis #2 – Growing Frustration
Have you ever been frustrated? I have. When my husband went through cancer and multiple surgeries, his physical recoveries were very long and stressful. Seeing him weak, pale, and sick all the time made me fearful that he would not make it.
I decided I needed to help his physical recovery, so I started monitoring what he ate (and all the vitamins I decided he should take), what he drank, how much he was sleeping, how much he was working, etc. I had the best intentions, but when all my attempts to help him get better didn’t work, I became very angry and frustrated.
Without knowing it, I fell into the trap of trying to control his physical recovery and, when I failed, I fell apart. I had to get honest with myself and what the heck I was doing. It began with me first admitting the simple fact that God is God, and I am not.
I had to begin to turn my husband and his health over to God on a daily basis as I consciously chose to trust God for my future and my husband’s. I had to practice believing the truth that God would be with me even if my husband didn’t make it. Thankfully, my husband is still here with me, and his quality of life has drastically improved. No thanks to me.
I found the only way to deal with my frustration was to get honest with God as mentioned in Psalm 32:3: “My dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration.”
By not being honest with myself and what I was doing, I was miserable and frustrated, which revealed to me my lack of trust in God for my future. Once I could admit that I was trying to play God with my husband and his health, the frustration I’d been feeling melted away.
If we refuse to be honest, we will find ourselves falling into more control freak ways.
Tonya Towner is the Director of Operations and leader of Celebrate Recovery at The Harbor Church in Odessa, FL. She co-authored the Today Is My Favorite Day Workbook. Tonya is married to Pastor David Towner and has three daughters and four grandchildren.