“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:34
My first year of marriage was, how shall I put this, just plain awful. At twenty-two years old, fresh out of college, highly idealistic and dismally immature, I had absolutely no idea what I should be doing as a young wife. But that didn’t stop me from routinely telling my new spouse exactly what he should be doing as a young husband.
That’s great, Honey, but there’s actually a better way to load the dishwasher.
Here, let me refold that laundry for you.
No, dear, not this restaurant. Yes, dear, that shirt.
Say this. Do that. Choose this. Buy that.
Did I mention our first year of marriage was just plain awful?
Fortunately, I married a just plain awfully good guy who gently lead me to see the error of my ways. I believe his exact words were, “You need to knock it off or this is never going to work.”
He was patient with me, but firm in his insistence that I turn from my controlling behavior. He knew in his heart that it was necessary, not just for him, and not just for our marriage, but also for me.
It took some time, and lots of practice, but I slowly realized that trying to control those around me was not accomplishing any of the positive outcomes for which I aimed. Rather, I was simply gaining unintentional negative consequences that I inevitably regretted. I’ve learned that when it comes to being a control freak, recognizing the difference between good intentions and unfortunate realities is the key to staying on track.
1. Control freaks aim to be helpful; the reality is we only make it worse.
Let’s face it; it’s an impossible feat, a completely futile effort, to control other people. When I try (and certainly fail) to make someone else abide by my particular standards, and they try (and certainly fail) to meet my demands, I’m not only setting them up for failure and setting myself up for huge discontentment.
It’s a vicious cycle, an unwinnable battle that leaves no room for God’s prescription for other people’s shortcomings. God tells us clearly to be patient with others; He does not command us to take responsibility for changing others.
“Bear with one another and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance.” Colossians 3:13
2. Control freaks aim to project a good image; the reality is we make ourselves look bad.
A major contributing factor to being a controlling person is the need for others’ approval. The reason people want to control the speech, wardrobe, decisions, habits, and hobbies of those closest to them is to create a particular image of themselves.
Control freaks are so concerned with the impressions of others and the reflection others have on them that we rarely look in the mirror and see the reality of how our own behavior looks. The truth is, berating our husbands about what to do, think, say, believe or wear is extremely unattractive.
“The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:4
3. Control freaks aim to reduce fear; the reality is we lose our peace.
A common misperception among those who tend to want to control others is that we diminish fear in our lives. If I can make others do what I want, I don’t have to be afraid of them hurting me. Or causing me pain. Things can’t go wrong for me if I can control those around me.
But of course people will still hurt us. Bad things will still happen in this fallen world. Relying on our unachievable control of a situation or person to solve problems, instead of God’s sovereignty, love and grace, brings great unrest. Trusting in our all-powerful Creator is the only road to peace in this life.
Truly my soul finds rest in God.” Psalm 62:1
4. Control freaks aim to please God; the reality is we become ungodly.
Expecting others to measure up to our very particular standards seems like a good idea. I mean, what’s wrong with high standards? The problem is, just like those well-meaning Pharisees of the past, we become hyper-focused on outward actions and behaviors (and the outward actions and behaviors of others) and lose sight of what’s most important.
Trying to earn God’s favor by works leads to a highly critical road of life, one on which self-righteousness reigns and grace is dismissed. In order to truly please God, we must follow Him in looking past the external.
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
My fellow controlling friends, take heart.. let go and let God.
I’m not sure we can ever completely rid ourselves of a controlling nature, but we can let God work in our hearts and have His way in our relationships. While it’s true that we can’t change others, there is One who can certainly change us. Let’s commit to daily surrendering all to Jesus and give control to the One who is worthy of having it in the first place.
♡ If you enjoyed this Proverbs 31 Woman story, I’m sure you’ll love this too → Desiring God’s Will With a Stubborn Heart