I needed to hear these three words today… maybe you do too?
Hi, my name is Michelle, and I am a control freak.
When I think of the little girl in me, I understand why control is so paramount. Even now, being in control feels like survival, and losing control triggers me into a slow spiral of complete helplessness. I equate control with safety, and when I am not in control, it can be terrifying.
But, what if it’s not?
If I could sum up 2020 in a sentence, I am not in control of anything.
I had my future planned. And suddenly, everything changed.
It triggered me and brought back my old friends: panic, anxiety, and fear. They unpacked their bags, and for a while, they were my constant companions, especially at night when they whispered, “What are you going to do?” It was just like old times. I started planning my next move while anticipating all that could go wrong.
One night, as I browsed the internet searching for my next opportunity, I landed on information about a graduate degree in Pastoral Counseling – Crisis Response and Trauma. I filled out the form to request more information, and when I submitted it, my phone rang.
The man who called offered to answer my questions about graduate school, so I asked, “When do classes start?”
Hello? Are you still there?”
Dates are a big deal to me, and May 11 is a significant date for me. I held my breath as I listened to him list the requirements, but honestly, graduate school was not my plan. He ended with, “The deadline to apply is April 15th.”
I put that away in my mind and continued to convince myself that it did not make sense to go back to school at my age. The control freak in me continued to look for my next career/opportunity. When the thoughts of going back to school came into my mind, I pushed them away. There had to be a better plan for me, but I went ahead and ordered my transcript to see if I would even qualify. I called a few friends hoping they would talk me out of it.
On April 14th, I opened the refrigerator and stared at the expiration date on the milk.
I applied the next morning and was accepted. The last paper I wrote in college was on a word processor. I had to learn what APA meant. It has been incredibly challenging and exhilarating.
It feels like I am walking blindfolded with Jesus, learning to trust and depend on him for every step.
It’s been challenging to juggle school with family and a new job. I usually wake up early and go to bed late to work on school work. On weekends, I take breaks to make meals, but mostly I am writing papers. I thought I would never get through my first few classes, but God has been faithful to help me. I’ve had to rely on him entirely because I am way beyond my comfort zone.
Why am I telling you this? Maybe you struggle with control issues too?
In Matthew 14:25, Jesus walked on water towards the disciple’s boat, and they were afraid. He told them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
My need to be in control makes me choose security, stability, and safety. It makes it hard for me to step out onto the water.
Not Peter. He said, “Lord if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”
Peter got out of the boat, and he walked on water towards Jesus.
It is hard to be like Peter. I don’t enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone, and I don’t want to fall. While this season of not being in control has triggered deep places in me that require further healing, it has also opened my eyes to an amazing and profound truth:
Losing control helped me to realize I never had control in the first place.
I still have to remind myself (and the little girl inside of me) daily: “Go for it! You have nothing to lose. His plan is better than anything you can imagine. God is your helper, and you are not alone. Keep your eyes on Him, and walk. If you fall, get up and try again. It is going to be okay.”
Maybe He has laid something on your heart that seems impossible.
Is He calling you to get out of the boat? What is holding you back?
I’d love to hear from you! Go for it! You have nothing to lose.
I am sharing the lessons I learned from 2020 that I am bringing into 2021. You can click on the link below to read Lesson 1.
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over my life so much that I nearly drowned. (Mark 4:37 rewritten)
I immediately panicked and put on the nearest life vest floating on the water.
Then I grabbed buckets and furiously worked to dump the water out as quickly as possible.
I cried and screamed until my throat hurt. I pounded my fists and through gritted teeth I finally yelled, “God, wake up! Are you asleep? Please help me! Can’t you see I’m drowning here? I’m sinking and there’s nothing else I can do.”
In exhaustion, I quit! I threw the life vests and buckets overboard and waited as the water continued to pour and rise.
I thought I was going to die. Just before the water got up to my mouth I whispered, “I give up.”
Immediately I felt him hold me in his big arms and I heard him say, “Good, let’s get to work.”
I laid there numb as the water stopped pouring. The waves were completely flat with just ruffles of movement. The dark clouds parted, and the sunshine warmed my face. Everything was beautiful and bright. I was so tired that I fell asleep peacefully in his arms.
When I woke up, I thanked him for coming to my rescue and saving me. He smiled and laughed a little when he replied, “Michelle, I was right here the entire time, but you were so determined to save yourself. You’ve always felt like you had to protect your world and everything in it. That feeling of needing to be in control helped you survive your childhood. It’s like a reflex for you.”
But now, that desperate need for control holds you back. It gets in your way and it paralyzes you. It doesn’t serve you well at all anymore, and it’s so automatic for you it’s hard for you to even see it.”
Now let’s try this again.”
My eyes widened as the sky grew dark. The clouds boomed and the lightning lit up the sky. My heart started to race and I struggled in his arms. The more I pulled away, the tighter he held me. I winced as the water came up to my ears and this time instead of screaming I started to sing. I clapped my hands and raised my arms in worship as if the booming thunder and lights were just a part of the concert.
A funny thing happened.
As I sang, my heart rate slowed down. My eyes met His gaze. The panic and anxiety slowly left, but the storm raged on.
It was as if I was floating on the furious waves. They continued to pound me, but I didn’t sink. The water continued to rise but I didn’t drown. The wind blew with fury, but I hardly moved.
Tears of Joy welled up in my eyes as I finally realized I was safe in the arms of my Heavenly Father. Safe in every season and in every storm!
I simply had to let go.
I had to learn how to part with fear and control, and how to link arms with faith and praise.Tweet
It wasn’t easy, but when a new storm arrived and made my heart pound instead of looking for a way to control it or manage it, I looked for his arms.
I remembered his faithfulness in prior storms.
Even though I still get scared, I sing out loud in my shaky voice. I lift my arms in praise through tears. I say His name over and over, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”
Music keeps me focused on being held. The praise keeps my focus on Jesus and not my circumstances.
Jesus simply looked at the waves and commanded them to be still. Just like that! When there’s chaos, seek him, praise Him and let His presence usher peace and calm into your life.
You are loved.
You are safe.
You are held.
Do you remember the last storm that swept into your life? What did you do to stay focused on Jesus? What song do you sing when your life is spinning out of control? What promise do you cling to in His word? As the storms rage all around you, how did you sense His presence?
Are you in a storm right now? I would love to pray for you. Please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take Me to the King by Tamela Mann is a song that has blessed me in all of my storms. I pray it blesses you.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2
The lens of Childhood Sexual Abuse affected my life and my vision. It distorted my perceptions and impacted my decisions. It filled me with fear and paranoia. It absolutely covered me from head to toe with shame. When I looked through that lens of brokenness, it affected how I saw God and how I saw myself.
But when I began looking through the truth of God’s Word, I could see. The truth set me free. Looking through the truth of God’s word will set you free.
The truth is I am a dearly loved daughter. Do you long to live as a dearly loved daughter?
Last weekend, I shared my story at the Boundless Sisterhood Conference. Click below to watch “Dearly Loved Daughters.”
You are His dearly loved daughter. Hold your head high, straighten your crown and walk in that love.
This was a song that I kept #onrepeat last year: “Dearly Loved” by Shaylee Simeone. I pray it blesses you.