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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Control

I sometimes refer to myself as a reformed control freak.  I think a better term would be "recovering" control freak.  Just like alcoholism, I think once a control freak, always a control freak.  No matter how much we learn, how many books we read, how much praying we do, some part of our brain will always revert to control freakism if we don't ride herd on it.

I started realizing how little control I really had just before I sobered up.  My life had spiraled completely out of control and there was very little I could do about any of it.  So I kind of gave up.  An amazing thing happened.  God took care of me.  He provided me with a place to sleep, food to eat, friends to support me, and anything else I could ask for.  I wasn't aiming very high.  Sometimes it was Ramen noodles for days on end.  But I had no idea where anything was going to come from and, miraculously, it all came to me.

This was the time when I was squatting in a hundred year old barn-turned-cabin in downtown Bastrop.  It was a tough time, but also a really happy one.  One of the first times in my life that I felt really in touch with God and truly free.  Bastrop, if you've never been, is beautiful and rustic once you get downtown and, though I didn't have money for gas, I could walk just about anywhere.  I remember walking down to the river one evening, laying down to look up at the stars, and being so happy I sang a little song to myself.  Crazy?  Perhaps.  But I was living with a kind of child-like simplicity that was indescribably freeing.  I think of these as my "cabin days."

Once I got into a recovery program I started learning nifty little phrases like "Let Go and Let God."  Maybe a little corny but definitely useful.  And I was doing a fairly good job at doing just that.  Then along came Eddie  and any remaining illusions of control flew out the window.

During Eddie's life, I learned how to maintain a control-free lifestyle.  After his death, I enjoyed a short grace period of remaining blissfully out of control.  Then slowly, surely, fungus-like, my need to control started creeping back over me.  I had healthy babies now and I could control certain aspects of their lives, right?  Through "helpful suggestions" (a.k.a nagging) I could somewhat control my husbands choices...right?  It was stealthy and I did not notice it for a long time, but, undeniably, the control freak was back.

I started noticing sometime over the past year.  I started longing for those cabin days, began believing that just because I have more responsibilities now doesn't necessarily mean I can't have the same mind-set as I had back then.  It was harder to get there though.  I couldn't just snap my fingers and go back to really, truly believing that I didn't have to worry about anything at all.  That God would provide for my family and protect us even if I just laid back and let the tide carry me for a little while.

I began praying that God would take me back to the cabin (mentally not physically).  That I live in blissful dependence on him, whether in plenty or in want.  Have I mentioned that God answers prayers?  My husband got laid off.  (Remember:  you never know how He is going to answer them.)  Oddly, I was immediately excited.  I knew from experience that as soon as everything falls apart, as soon as God shakes your snowglobe, that He then starts showing up in big ways, doing amazing things, and changing your head and your heart.  So I was almost giddy that we were jobless.

There were definitely times during this two month layoff that I lost my serenity for a little while.  They were, however, short-lived.  And God did show up.  He showed up in friends arriving with grocery bags full of food.  In cash donations, both anonymous and handed to us with loving smiles.  In me getting a job offer out of the blue.  In tanks of gas lasting longer than they've ever lasted before and items going on sale just as we needed them.  And, finally, a couple of weeks ago, in my husband getting a call to go back to work.  We survived.

Aside from praying and humbly letting people know the truth about our situation, I didn't do anything to get any of this.  I didn't rush off trying to fix the situation in my own strength; I let go and let God. I relaxed and felt joy.  There even might have been a few moments of public singing.  In my opinion, we would all do a little better if we were all just a little more like Buddy the Elf.

So although I'm still a work in progress, I am living a life of very little control again and it feels really good.  If I don't have my cell phone with me at all times, it's really okay.  If I run out of laundry detergent, my clothes can be dirty a little while longer.  Today my children mixed up their Play-Doh colors and, after a deep breath, I didn't have to correct them.  Life is good...and God is even better.

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