“We cannot control people. Goodness knows I wish we could, but we can’t. It doesn’t work. It will never work. And here’s the worst part: the insecurity that drove the desire in the first place only deepens with each failure.
...sooner or later all false gods get fired. Or tired.
The tricky part is that God blatantly instructs us in Scripture to help one another, so how do we know when help has morphed into a quest for control? The first clue is when the helper is the one doing all the work… why are there so many people who talk big talk about what they need to do but then won’t do what it takes? … at the end of the day, people do what they want to do… when we try to do God’s job, we get in God’s way.”
This quote out of Beth Moore’s book “So Long Insecurity” is one that really hit home to me.
I was recently talking to a friend of mine about another mutual friend of ours. This particular friend that I was talking to was trying hard to understand ‘why’ – why our other friend seemed to be making the same mistakes over and over again, while seemingly aware of her actions and patterns.
It’s frustrating, being in a position when you can see where a person you care about is headed down a wrong road and you feel like you’ve said all you can say and short of physically removing them or stopping them from doing something they shouldn’t be doing, you have nothing left to do but watch. And not to belittle anyone’s problems, but I’m not even talking about seemingly minor decisions that are reversible, I’m talking about life-long decisions that you KNOW that you KNOW, are not good for a person, yet they insist on doing them, all the while acknowledging the truth behind all the warnings you’ve tried so carefully to say. I’ve been there. In fact, I’ve been there more than once – and it’s a very hard place to be.
But I’ve learned. Learned the hard way in some instances, that I have an obligation to make my warnings – to put all my cards on the table – all of my concerns, the truth as I know it to be. But once I’ve done that, I offer my support and love and I let it go. Because it is true: at the end of the day, people do what they want to. Me trying to control them, change them or getting overly involved in a situation isn’t going to do either one of us any good, and actually it will probably cause us both harm. In my experience, I have seen more harm done (including enabling a person to make bad decisions) than good come from insisting to be a part of a person’s wrong decisions (all in the name of “love”).
My mom and sisters have often asked me about certain boundaries that I have set up for myself and how I maintain them, and I’ve thought about it a lot myself, because for a while, I didn’t know what boundaries were – I was a wreck I was controlling, independent, co-dependent, needy, guarded and afraid all at the same time. I could barely tell you from one minute until the next how I was feeling or what I might say. People often walked on egg shells around me. I got offended easily, angry even easier and was bitter and unforgiving towards many people in my life. To put it nicely I was wounded, to put it plainly I was living in sin.
Then one day it all changed. I can’t tell you why or how exactly but I can tell you this – it felt almost instantaneous. As though a wall was broken down or a veil was lifted. I’m not referring to salvation, I was already a Christian, what I’m talking about is healing. I started a journey.
In the past I had never had a problem admitting I was damaged, or even talking about all my issues, but I never did anything about it, never took any real steps to change. But then one day I looked around and decided, really decided I WANTED to be healed. I was willing to do whatever it took, even give up all my excuses of being damaged to get out of the pit that I was in. It was after this that the Lord was finally able to take a hold of my heart, When I decided I was ready to lose the control, He was able to step in. That was when my life changed.
Since then I have set up boundaries, not always because I wanted to, but because I needed to. Even though I was trying to control people and situations because I thought it would help me get hurt less, being controlling actually hurt me more. It left me exhausted a lot of the time, and on top of that, every time I failed (which happens often when we are trying to control people), I would end up with more wounds and disappointments. I was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was so afraid of people not liking me or leaving me, and I would control them and “need them” to the point that I would drive them away, which would just reinforce the issues I had in the first place.
I have a lot to learn, and I can’t say that I don’t still try to control many situations in my life, especially ones that involve my kids, but I can say I now have boundaries – and not because I am mean or because I don’t care about people in my life (like this friend of mine) but because I’ve learned that after I’ve made my peace, and said what I feel like the Lord would have me say (which is the truth), I must back off – for the both of us, but mostly for myself, and my family. This is not a selfish thing, this is a healthy thing.
And while this is extremely hard to do, speaking from experience, it gets easier, and what’s even better is that it works!
Since I have set up boundaries in my own life, many of the same people I was trying to control have actually come to me asking me for my opinion and advice on areas in their life. Many of them refer to a confidence and wisdom they see in my life that they want for themselves. And while I don’t feel wise or confident, I do feel different, I feel like I’m healing and I feel blessed, I feel at peace and I feel like through the ups and downs of life I’m taken care of and loved.
For those of you who haven’t experienced much pain or held on to deep wounds for years (or even most of) your life, this might not make much sense to you, and that’s okay – in fact that’s great. But for me, a person who just the other day told her husband “When I was a little girl, my best dream of my future paled in comparison to the life that I have now,” that feeling is everything.
My life isn’t perfect, I still experience pain, often, actually. But I’m not bitter any more, and I try not to be so controlling, which brings me peace and I’m growing, which is where I want to be.
** While this post is not a review, I do want to recommend Beth Moore’s book ‘So Long Insecurity” for any woman who may struggle with any of the issues I mentioned in this post – I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and while it is a little wordy (I mean it is Beth Moore), I got a lot out of it.