Life is messy. There are an infinite number of variables that affect our lives: the weather, political forces, financial concerns, our health, and most of all, other human beings exercising their personal free will. It is human nature to try to bring some semblance of order to the chaos in our life and to control our world. But, as Michael Crichton pointed out in Jurassic Park, control is an illusion.
Invariably, individuals with unresolved emotional issues have problems with control, whether exercising it improperly or dealing with others asserting control over them. Control issues are based on insecurity. You do not grab the steering wheel while someone else is driving the car unless you feel the car is going to crash.
On the other hand, some individuals who are unsure of themselves will abdicate their free will to others in an effort to pass the buck and avoid responsibility for their actions. Then they often resent the fact that they gave up their independence and become angry, usually with the very person to whom they freely gave away their freedom. Even though counseling provides an invaluable tool to help individuals and couples deal with challenges―a tool that my wife and I have benefited from―too often people use it as a socially acceptable way to escape taking personal responsibility for their actions and the decisions they face.
Insecurity is generally caused by life experiences when we have been disappointed or injured by other people’s actions, often our parents. We accordingly lose trust in others. Consequently, many individuals feel they can only rely on themselves. However, as pointed out above, control is an illusion.
We are all imperfect, so those who try to control their world will repeatedly be disappointed. Their view of the world is distorted and not completely based in reality. A warped mind does not think straight. So they often blame others for their continual disappointment, thus perpetuating the insatiable drive to gain even more control, with the same disappointing results. In fact, because their life is based on abnormal behavior, they will often turn people off, and few will want to deal with them, thus making life even more difficult and disappointing. The lives of persons with control issues are out of harmony with God and the universe; otherwise, they would feel no need to control their environment. Naturally, if one is out of harmony with God and the universe, then one would feel insecure.
The converse is also true. The closer we are to God, the more assured we become because our lives are built on a sure foundation. Jesus used the example of a foolish man building a house on sand so when the storms of life came, his house was washed away. A wise man, however, built his house on a rock, so he survived troubled times. Christ is the rock of our salvation, and if we build our life on him and strive to become like him, we, too, will survive the vicissitudes of life that are sure to come. Everyone will let us down at some point. God is the only one we can completely count on. As we exercise faith in Him, our knowledge of this assurance grows, bringing stability and security into our lives. This assurance creates confidence and peace. Because we are secure, we are able to remain calm in the midst of turmoil. As we discover and then develop our divine nature and get closer to God, we become more in tune with truth and reality and become confident, thus gaining more actual power and control of our lives. Consequently, as we align ourselves with God and become more like Him, we gain more true self-confidence.
God wants us to be free to act so we can grow and develop to become more like Him. It is the only way. Our desire for independence is God inspired. We naturally resist and resent others who try to impose their will on us and deprive us of this God-given trait. However, many individuals freely surrender this gift and become slaves to addiction, negative attitudes, excessive debt, or simply avoiding responsibility.
Anger is a natural reaction when individuals with control issues feel they lack control of their surroundings. However, if viewed properly, anger is a warning sign that alerts us to the fact that we are out of harmony with God. If we do not heed this warning, our lives will continue to become more and more out of control, until we become control freaks with destroyed personal relationships. However, if we recognize that anger is a warning sign and heed it, then God can turn a negative attribute into a positive one, if we will simply let Him.
Picture your brain as a hook that grabs onto thoughts and feelings as they pass by. However, you have the power to determine whether those thoughts stay or not. Envision a switch that controls this hook in your brain. When you turn off this switch, the hook relaxes and releases these thoughts and feelings, and when you switch it on, it grabs and holds on to the thought or feeling passing by. You decide whether this hook will hold on to negative or positive thoughts and feelings. If you hold on to negative thoughts, they will fester and grow, and you will develop an angry temperament. You have the power to let them go, but you must grab onto positive, uplifting thoughts and feelings to fill the void of the negative thought you released, or it will return. Consequently, it is a good strategy to have a ready inventory of positive thoughts to concentrate on when you want to escape from the disturbing thoughts and feelings that pull you down.
In my opinion, the need to trust God is the theme of the entire Old Testament. As we learn to trust God and let go of our desire to control things, we have claim on His promise to help us. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).