Love it when God presses into me to share my faults with the entire internet…just kidding it’s terrifying. Anyone else feel like if they admit their faults to people that they might be used against them? Ah, Fear based thinking at its finest. Guys – this is a tough one for me.
I also want to be clear – whenever I post and share about myself it is somewhat curated. I share the things with you that God prompts me to share – but other than that – it is still just a snapshot. I also need to wise about what I share and who I share it with. Just want to make sure we’re on the same page with that.
I have to remind myself that God’s glory shows up in the middle of my weakness. He uses the things that make us weak to glorify His kingdom, and so – I’m okay with it, or at least every day I’m trying to be more okay with it. I will subject myself to eye rolls and criticism. If at the end of this I have the majority of people saying – “that girl is crazy”, but at least one person whispering – “me too” – then I’ll consider it a win. I won’t try to control people’s opinions of me by only sharing the things that are noteworthy…that would just be totally ironic given the topic of this entire post.
Anyone else try to plan and manipulate everything about their life? Orrrr is it just me? Money, relationships, interactions, perceptions, circumstances…everything.
Controlling Opinions, Perceptions, and Image
I think we can all relate to the control we try to have over what other people think about us – social media anyone? There’s a reason people don’t post things like: “Hey – totally dropped the ball at work today. Definitely underperformed and made my coworkers pick up the pieces”. You don’t want people to think that way about you. You don’t want people making any negative judgements about you – and that’s fair. Because a snapshot of who you are like a “status” or a photo isn’t a true depiction (good or bad), but what’s happening is that people start to associate their value with what other people think about them. That’s why “likes” become so important to people.
I’m guilty of this. I’m about to set someone free by telling you that – yes, I’ve deleted things on social media that weren’t getting enough “likes” for my liking, I’ve had mini panic attacks when I don’t feel like a post is living up to my expectations. Ouch – this is hard to tell you guys, because I sound crazy. That’s just insanity, but I know I’m not the only one. I will admit its been a while since those days because I’ve battled those gut reactions for a while now – but it’s real. I even feel that way sometimes when I post one of these – I instinctively want to control how many people see it.
I work with high school kids all the time that are literally scared and hopeless because they feel like their worth is based on the amount of followers on instagram they have or how many “likes” a picture gets – and we aren’t so far from that – I just don’t see many adults admitting it. We’re becoming commodities. Did you know teenagers have like MULTIPLE instagrams – one where they post whatever they want to post (only close friends follow this account), one where they post a more curated selection, one where they might post only selfies, and one where they will post a bunch of memes. Like…woah. I can hardly fathom the pressures of making sure you’re posting just the right thing to the right account. Don’t want to post the wrong selfie to the wrong account – what a giant disaster that would be. It’s all a game of control. Control who sees what, and when they see it.
When you work so hard to control the opinions of others – everyone loses. Also – just FYI – this is the heart of codependency. Which is just a giant issue in our society that no one seems to be talking about. But, society is setting nearly everyone up for codependent behaviors – and when you dive into it – it’s alarming…anyway – I digress. People pleasing anyone? Okay, I’ll move on…
Planning and Doing all the “right” Things
So maybe you don’t try to manipulate the way other people think about you via social media, but maybe you try to manipulate and control your future. Trying to do all the right things, meet all the right people, go to the right school, get the right degree so that you can get the right job, and then you can feel valuable because you did everything right, and you controlled the path you took to get there. People in control have the most value, right? A lot of people feel “less-than” when the imagined or perceived “right path” isn’t the one their walking on right now. Chaotic people tend to be thought of as having less value in our society.
It’s a huge relief to me that through Christ my value is not based on what I do, but on who I am. It’s based on the “being” not on the “doing”. You are no more valuable when you are doing all the right things, than you are when you stumble with every step you take.
Planning to excess is a form of control. My mom tells me that I’ve been “planning” since I was a little girl. I’ve always been really fixated on what the plan is. She said when I was as young as 3 I would hound her about the plan for the entire day. We’d be eating breakfast, and I would be asking what’s for dinner. I’m actually so embarrassed to say that when I was 13 I wrote to 12 different colleges about my plans for the future that may or may not include their institution…what a nerd. But seriously – why was I planning college? Why wasn’t I able to just be a 13 year old little girl?
I always wanted to know the plan…and it’s something thats followed me into my adult life as well. Always wanting to know what’s next, never taking the time to live in my current reality, or experience my immediate truth – and that’s a problem. One thing I’ve learned through all this planning? That’s a lot of expended energy on ultimately a false sense of control and security. My plans rarely work out the way I think them up in my mind. So now I practice loose planning based on God’s design. But seriously – the reigns have been handed over because frankly, I’m exhausted trying to figure it all out. The old me would probably be setting up my assisted living arrangements for when I’m like 80.
Controlling People and the Way you Experience Reality
Did you know that in some circumstances even the way you approach conflict or relationships can be one giant game of manipulation? Whenever you try to control your experience – you are trying to manipulate reality. Okay, so this one is a bit lofty and sort of confusing – I’ll try my best. I’ll use an example from my own life (super awesome).
I don’t like it when my friends bail on me – it hurts my feelings and I can take it personally (which is probably the biggest issue right there). Anyway – I have found myself trying to manipulate situations so that I don’t find myself being bailed on. My bestie Katie can vouch for this, and since we’re so close she knows that this is something I struggle with – so she’s incredibly patient with me, and she’s just the sweetest ever.
PS – any friend that you can be like – “listen, I have issues, and hate being bailed on, and therefore sometimes I might be weird about plans…so just hang in there, and love me anyway” – and they do…that’s a friend you never let go of.
Anyway – I will find myself texting Katie like the day before we’ve made plans being like “hey, still on for tomorrow?” and she’ll say yes, and then I’ll text her like the next morning being like, “hey, still good for today?”, and she’ll say yes…and then I’ll text her like two hours before hanging out and be like, “hey, see ya soon?”, and she’ll say yep. And then I’ll text her like 30 minutes before we meet up – “Still good for 5?”… Oh my gosh – that’s exhausting, draining, and if I’m being honest with myself – incredibly needy. I know I don’t want to be that friend.
But see what I’m doing there? I’m trying to manipulate the outcome of our plans. If she bails on me I want to see it coming. I want to ensure that the plans we made will stand, and if they don’t, I’ll be able to feel like I saw it coming the whole time. This is me trying to control how I experience reality – trying to “soften the blow” if you will.
And guys – this is the really embarrassing part – one time she bailed on me (because she was sick, and life happens, being bailed on is NORMAL) – and I went into total abandonment mode. She probably bailed because she just doesn’t want to hangout with me. She’s probably not even sick. (Isn’t it wild how quickly perception can take over reality) I even texted her and was like “Listen – I know this is silly, but are you sure you’re sick?” Haha aw, poor Katie, in the most loving way ever she explained that she wasn’t abandoning me – that she was really throwing up and actually very sick. Retelling this story just made me like so thankful that I have a friend like her, and also so embarrassed, because who the heck is that nut job?
But either way – there are little things people do every day to control their interaction with the World and the way they experience it. Whether it be through withdrawing and isolating – if you don’t interact with people you don’t have to be subject to the pain that can come with relationship. Anger – you can push people away so you don’t have to deal with the rejection that you could possibly face. Bitterness and resentment – you deserve to put up walls because you’ve been hurt in the past.
Judgement – another one I’m guilty of. If you can judge people then it negates having to actually get to know them. You’re controlling the people you get to know based on perception. For example – anyone else meet someone who seems like totally cool, really pretty, really nice, down to earth – and think “they would never be friends with someone like me, they have it all together”. Yep – guilty. I’ve made those snap judgements that essentially allow fear, insecurity, and comparison to rob me of what could be a friendship, or at least a positive interaction. But it all boils down to control. Controlling the rejection you could possibly face. If you make the judgement that this person won’t like you – then you probably won’t try to get to know them – and you’ll probably eliminate a possible situation where you could be rejected. Phew – dodged that bullet, thank god you’re around to save yourself.
Even getting mad at someone for something they did (or didn’t do) can be a form of control. Hear me out on this one. Let’s say you’re mad at your boyfriend because he never plans any dates for you guys – and you want to be with someone who plans dates. You get upset and lash out with an attitude saying, “how come you never plan any dates for us”…and then three days later you get upset again because he still hasn’t planned any dates for you guys to go on…so you lash out again – “you never plan anything for us to do”. You keep having these outbursts in hopes to control his future behavior. Essentially you hope that your anger or irritation or pouting will control how he behaves in the future. You’re hoping that YOUR emotions will control the behaviors of another person. You attempt to control how that person relates to you using emotional manipulation.
However, you should know that you can’t control anyone’s behavior (the attempt to do so is also codependency). Instead – you have one rational conversation about it – “hey, I’d really like to be more active with you. I feel like I end up planning everything, and it makes me feel unloved” – I would say if this kind of conversation doesn’t get you anywhere, and you’re unwilling to settle for a man that doesn’t plan dates – then it would be time to get out of the relationship.
Remember – if there are things that you aren’t willing to compromise on in a relationship – and your partner doesn’t exemplify that…it’s not the right relationship for you. Staying in such relationship will only further your codependent behavior, and ultimately you will always attempt to control your partner’s value system, or actions. Setting expectations is healthy, setting boundaries is healthy, demanding certain behavior is controlling…does that make sense?
I think this video explains this concept pretty well –
Dang – I just watched this for like the third time. It’s such a good word guys.
Listen, all day every day people are running a race that can’t be won. Life just simply can’t be controlled, the things that happen to you can’t be curated, any sense of control that you think you have is false, it’s not real. Control is a perception, and the sooner you realize that the sooner you’ll be able to live an authentic life and be at peace with yourself. You can stop trying so hard, you can stop planning so much, you can stop trying to maintain a “brand” or an image – and you can start putting forth your authentic, vulnerable self.
We wonder why anxiety and addiction are at an all time high in our society right now – and to me it’s no surprise – there’s a lot of pressure that comes with the feeling that you have to do all the right things at the right time with the right people. My anxiety just spiked typing that haha. It’s exhausting to feel like you need to “do” things to get gold stars from God and have to accomplish big things to achieve ultimate value and worth. The truth is – we will never be able to do enough. We will never be able to accomplish enough. We will never be able to be valued by other people enough. We will always seek more, we will always want extra, we will always be empty. Until we connect with the ultimate truth that our value is based on who God says we automatically are – not on who He says we WILL be, or ONCE were…but on who He says we are RIGHT this minute. I mean – your value isn’t even diminished if you’re like smoking a bowl while reading this. Your value and my value and the crack head’s value are equal. Talk about equal rights…amiright?
Saturating Yourself in Truth
I have a feeling this isn’t just my problem…and if it is – send help because I just told ya’ll a lot of weird stuff about me, and that reality might require medication…I’m kidding.
I’ve been carrying around this list of Bible verses – and every time I feel the urge to control, manipulate, or plan I whip it out (so like about a million times a day). Actually, it sits right next to my computer at work – and then I have each one on a post it note somewhere all over my office – ya know, just in case… It’s been instrumental to saturate myself in God’s word. So – here ya go kids.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
“The heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in His way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” – Psalm 37: 23-24
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4
“The Lord of hosts has sworn ‘As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.” – Isaiah 14:24 (BTW – what a blessing Isaiah has been this past month. 10/10 would recommend)
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” – Psalm 27:14
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15:7
If you feel like I was speaking right to you with this blog post I invite you to pray this prayer. It’s directly from my prayer journal – lol talk about laying it all out there. God really stretched me with this post, and now He’s asking me to share my prayer journal with you…it’s a bit uncomfortable for me I’ll be honest.
Dear God –
Thank you that I am not in control – because I never get it right, I know I am dysfunctional. Lord, I pray that you would set me free from my desire to control and manipulate outcomes, circumstances, people, and situations. I pray that you would give me peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray that you would change my heart so that it trusts in you completely and fully with ALL things. Lord, I relinquish total control of my life to you. I pray that you would give me the strength to step out in authenticity and give me the strength to walk in your ways – regardless of if it makes sense. Search my heart and reveal areas where I am deceiving myself. Whatever is not from you remove it from my life.
In Jesus Name Amen.