Let’s talk about control today, or more so, the illusion of control and how it affects our lives. There was a time I thought I had control of my life. Unknowingly, I even believed I had control of the lives that surrounded me. You see, I was a “fixer”. I spent a great deal of time concerning myself in other people’s problems and offering them solutions (sometimes wanted and other times unsolicited). I imagine that most people go through their entire lives this way, as a fixer, and think it is an admirable quality. I know I did. I cared. I gave great advice (in my opinion – HA!). I knew the right thing to do in every scenario. If those I love would just listen to me, our lives would be so much better, calmer and more peaceful. I didn’t only bestow this fixing “privilege” unto myself. Those around me often came to me…pulling my opinion from me, my advice, my thoughts.
I don’t know how many of you reading this have played the role of the fixer, but I suspect there are some guilty parties out there. You may be the fixer at home, with your family; at work; with your friends; in your church. The opportunities to fix others are limitless. We can take up endless amounts of time and energy focused other people’s problems. But should we???
Here’s what life has taught me:
the only thing I know for sure is that I am in control of nothing, not one single thing…I know nothing with absolute certainty, not one single thing…and I’m okay with that.
Wait, scratch that, I’m actually thankful for that. So how did I lose this so-called sense of control??? How did I stop being a (eek!) “know-it-all”???? I changed quickly and slowly. Hmmm…I’m not making a lot of sense, huh?
Let me tell you about it. I had plans. At 22, for the most part, life had gone according to my plan. I had somehow been able to run wild through my teens and still hold all appearances together. I could test the limits of my safety and well-being, and still maintain a 4.0 GPA in college and work full-time to support myself. It may be surprising to some that know me today but I had a wild streak a mile wide. I guess I share this part of my life with you because without even realizing it, I had become a master at manipulating appearances (CONTROL). If the world saw a bright, successful, young person, and I could do whatever it was I felt like in my down time, then I was in control and doing okay. As an adult, I don’t take these experiences lightly. I don’t spend a lot of time on regrets because my choices led me to where I am today. But I can now see how lost I was then, how dangerous my decisions were. Looking back, being a parent to two young kiddos of my own, I’m scared half to death. Can I spare them the pain of these growing and learning experiences by allowing them to learn from my mistakes???? Okay, I realize the answer is NO. But I do know these life experiences will help me to empathize and understand the mistakes they might make and give me the hope that they will find their way on their own (with God’s help…not mine!).
I digress. Back to the point at hand. So this illusion of control served me well through my wild teens but when I decided I was ready to move forward with life and settle down…that was when I lost control. Ironic, huh?
I blogged about my miscarriage before but I come back to it again here because that was the first moment that I realized I wasn’t in control. I felt betrayed by my own body. I couldn’t fix my own problem and that loss shattered my sense that I could fix things. Shortly before I miscarried I also lost a dear friend to suicide. Death in general, but especially suicide, is a loss that takes the wind from your sails. How do you not see the signs? How badly did I fail my friend? How did I not have the answers?
During this time my life was changing very quickly. My path was straightening out but the paths of many around me were still twisting and turning. I was at a true turning point in my life and I took the losses I had suffered and decided I wanted more…to feel more, to be more, to give more. In losing control, in having my life turned to chaos, I was given a gift. When I realized I didn’t have the answers, I felt as though a weight had been lifted from me. When I didn’t have to navigate for myself or anyone else, I could begin making decisions based on what my higher power directed me to do and not on what I expected the outcome of an action would be. When my life was in shambles, I was able to give up and rely on my higher power to lead me…and I began to feel real, genuine happiness and contentment for the first time in my life.
It didn’t happen quickly. People still came to me for answers (and some still do…I was a fixer for a long time and people around me still expect me to play this role), but today I can consider their situation, hear them out, and let them know that although I don’t have the answers, I do love and support them. In all honesty, this has made me a better friend. When I’m not busy trying to solve someone’s problem, I’m a much better listener. I’m more compassionate and understanding. And I have peace. I’m not in the middle of ten different whirlwinds that don’t belong to me. I’m spending the time I used to invest in fixing and I’m focused on me and what IS mine. My life, my children, my husband, my household, our happiness. I have grown to love being “out of control” and “unknowing”…it gives me the freedom to really live.
Are you a fixer? Are you trying to control another person or situation? Have you given up your peace and happiness while pursuing something that is not yours to worry about in the first place? I encourage you to let it go today. Throw up your hands and give up, knowing that when you let go, you allow for God to carry you through life. Life is joyous. Life is crushing. It’s a journey that is impossible to figure out…so don’t try. Lose control…you’ll be thankful you did.