Saturday, November 29, 2014

In Control

I have often heard people at the helm; in an organisation, or leaders, even parents and spouses, declare, “I’m in control, don’t worry,” or “We have it under control.” It makes those who look up to them and trust them feel assured and safe. The question is: Are we in total control of everything that transpires; everything that occurs in our lives? Even small things like, a cancelled flight, a traffic jam, the Help going AWOL or a flat tyre are out of our control. When we have this intense need to ‘control’ everything and come face to face with situations that fall out of our control, we generally react in an undesirable manner resulting in: bad attitude, anger, and frustration.

Are we ever in total control? Not everything comes under our total control. Life consists of matters within our total control, partially in our control, and totally out of our control and influence. We can control our diet. We can control our choices in who to be friends with, what social obligations to honor and which relationships to maintain. We can partially control most of our expenses, but some just come at us like a bolt from the blue. We can control our daily, monthly, annual expenditure, but medical expenses often shoot out of nowhere. We can even exercise control over our moods and feelings. We can control whether we want to be happy or not. There are many areas of control, in lesser or greater degree. However, often the things beyond our control are the ones that cause us to be vexed, grieved, or depressed beyond a normal level. Of these emotions, anger is the most destructive and dangerous one when we lose control of ourselves and allow the emotion to rule us. Extreme anger can tilt us over the edge and make us mad with rage, causing us to do things we would never even think of doing in a calm, sane state of mind.

“Do not be quick in spirit to be angry or vexed, for anger and vexation lodge in the bosom of fools.” ~Numbers 21:8

How we react in situations out of our control is what determines the quality of our life. We can get frustrated over a sudden punctured tyre or a car breakdown or a traffic jam. Our attitude could be - abuse, rant and rave and perhaps vent our anger by kicking the object of our ire, namely the car or the offending tyre, or keep calm and think of what needs to be done, under the circumstances, and take action with a good attitude. In a traffic jam, fuming does not provide enough power to lift your vehicle and make it a flying machine. There is a lot more you could do in the waiting time: relaxing is just one of many other options! Many situations and circumstances come up in life that are worse than this. How we deal with it decides whether we get “bitter or better.” I know there are many things that occur which can be irritating and frustrating. It’s alright to be annoyed, irritated or frustrated. It is also okay to have an occasional meltdown. Breaking down does not indicate weakness nor does it indicate incapability. On the contrary it helps us to bounce back with renewed energy and spirit. What is corroding is dwelling in a place of frustration and giving it more expression than it deserves. This affects our attitude in an adverse way. I have learned that the hard way.

We have our areas of control as people in positions of administration and authority. This is to maintain discipline and order. The trouble starts when we begin to rely on our own strength, knowledge, and understanding to control all things beyond the given limits of things under our control. The best way to deal with circumstances out of our control is to do our bit; give it our best shot and leave the rest to God. Not every untoward incident or situation that occurs is our responsibility. We do not have to carry that burden of guilt, regret, sorrow, and anger to a point where it breaks us, or worse ruins us. Giving it to the Lord is the best way to deal with it. It is good to say, “I’m not going to let that get to me,” and turn away. This does not mean that we become indifferent towards things. It means we make a distinction between what is in our control; how much is in our control, and having done what we could do, submit the rest to God with faith and trust.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him.....Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8

When we regularly get upset over everything that’s not going our way, we suffer more. And often we allow a molehill to grow into a mountain and weigh us down. Instead “cast your cares” upon the Lord. Accept what has occurred. Move on.

God is in total control. We may not understand many things now or even later because God works in mysterious ways. I am telling you what I have learned. He uses every difficulty, every pain, for our benefit. He even turns a setback to our advantage. All we need to do is just trust Him in all things and we can make it through the ups and downs of life with a better attitude and a better quality of life, if we believe. I choose to have greater peace, love, joy, and strength rather than anger, bitterness, and frustrations.

What do you choose?