I can feel it in my tight shoulders. My stomach in a knot. Throbbing headache.
The tension that comes with trying to maintain control.
Hello again. I remember all through college making myself physically ill over the stress of finishing papers, passing classes, and figuring out the future.
I was so relieved at graduation to finally be done. That is… until I had to find an apartment, move to a new place, make new friends, try not to look like an idiot at work, budget, and everything else.
We started reading a new book in my small group – When a Woman Lets Go of Her Fears. After reading the first chapter, I was convinced that the author of the book should have been in serious counseling. I was also pretty sure that I wasn’t going to learn much from her story. After all, I don’t really struggle with fear.
Or so I told myself, until I read this.
A reaction to fear is to try to take control. People who are afraid want to be in control of their circumstances. [Many women] are afraid of any plans but their own.
And suddenly, it’s like a revelation of sorts. I’ve been trying to manage stress for years, but not ever truly understanding that my stress is tied to my need to control, which is tied to deep fears…. of everything.
And it all makes sense.
The reason why I give my boyfriend unsolicited career advice. I don’t have control of his future… and that’s fear of the unknown: the future.
The reason I struggle to let go responsibilities. I fear that once they’re out of my control, they’ll fall to the wayside.
The reason I make suggestions and try to manipulate situations so that I have a semblance of control over the outcome. I fear that another outcome won’t fit into my plan.
It’s funny how all these things are tied together. It’s interesting to look at those fears and see the root of them. I’m afraid of the future because it’s unknown, I’m afraid to let others take over for me because I might look bad if they are more successful.
Maybe you couldn’t identify with my desire for control. But break down what those fears are linked to: the future, being judged, what other people think – I bet you can see yourself too.
The good news is: I’m learning.
I’m learning to let go of my preconceptions of the future and to realize that I can be equally as happy in many, many different scenarios. I don’t need to know, plan, or control the outcome of the next few years of my life, my boyfriend’s, my family’s life.
I’m learning to let go of my responsibilities and give them to others. I’m training myself to recognize that those who take over my clients, work, tasks – can do an equally good job. And, if they do a better job – it doesn’t matter.
I’m learning to trust.
I’m learning to name fear and deal with the root of the issue.
I’m learning to “not be anxious about anything, but with prayer and thanksgiving present my requests to God.” (philippians 4)
Are you surprised I’m tying this back to 1000 gifts? Isn’t it interesting how the Bible itself commands us to give thanks when we are afraid? Counting gifts helps us recognize His goodness and provision and put our fears into perspective.
I only have to scribble down a few gifts and immediately I feel peace.
Breathe in. Eyes closed. Shoulders relax. Relinquish control.
Stress. Fear. Pseudo-control. They vanish when you are able to focus on the goodness of His mercy and grace.
Strength for today, bright hope for tomorrow.