MY NAME IS PRISCILLA, and I'm a recovering control freak. For many years, I thought I did an impressive job keeping all the balls in the air, but soon they began to drop. And then they piled up around me.
Here I was, married for almost 25 years (20 of which were spent in ministry). My husband was a pastor, and I worked alongside him — opening our home to women in need. Now I found myself having questions. Not little nagging questions. Bigger questions, such as "Is God really in control of all things?" and “If He is, is He good?" I don't know if I was more scared of the answers, or the fact that I (the pastor's wife) was having these types of questions.
By this time, our six children were adults and making decisions of their own (without first consulting me!). And I couldn't do a thing about it! I was losing control. Ball #1 hit the ground. — Then, much worse, our daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with cancer. Ball #2 hit the ground. — Now I felt as if I had lost all control. As a series of other events continued to unfold, I began to doubt if God was sovereign. Was He really in control of everything? Well if He was (and if I can be honest), I didn't like how He was running things.
I began searching the Word of God for much needed answers, and I eventually came face-to-face with the truth: If I was ever to be at peace, I had to accept that God had my best interest in mind. Most importantly, He is a loving and all-powerful God who cannot be manipulated. So I repented, and made a few confessions.
The fear of what others think can rule our lives. Some women become withdrawn, dysfunctional, or paralyzed. But for many of us, this fear makes us scramble for control. As a result, we can go to great lengths to impress people, dominate, intimidate, and even completely shut people out of our lives. Displaying behaviors that span from “annoying” to “self-destructive,” we might talk more (and louder), blame shift, plot, plan, and scheme in order to get our way. All of this is done because we constantly ask ourselves, “What do people think?” — But shouldn’t we ask, “What does God think?”
In Galatians 1:10, Apostle Paul wrote, “I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant” (New Living Translation).
As women, we will often deal with the inclination to be “people pleasers.” Why wouldn’t we? After all, we serve our families ... and seemingly everyone else. The challenge, however, is when “serving” others leads to chasing their affection and approval. When God gave Moses the Commandments, He said, "Do not make idols of any kind. [...] I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god!" (Exodus 20:4-5, New Living Translation).
Accepting help is hard for anyone. For a control freak, it's torture! Not only do we struggle with wanting to do things our way, but we often have a hard time admitting our inadequacies and limitations. Ultimately, the inability to ask for help is rooted in insecurity — not strength. Insecurity makes us associate “needing help” with “being inadequate.” This is a dangerous misconception.
In Exodus chapter 18, Jethro observed Moses' inability to delegate responsibility. “This is not good!" Jethro said to Moses. “You’re going to wear yourself out — and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself” (New Living Translation). Like Moses, our calling may require assistance from other people. However, if our control freak nature prohibits us from accepting help, how will we ever accomplish the call on our lives?
God has designed the Church to be a Body (made up of many parts). None of us should individually run the show — not even an overzealous control freak! Only God can be everywhere at one time. And when we accept that, we gain the ability to live a peaceful (rather than exhausting) life.