I posted asking, “What’s on your mind?” and this was one of the responses. Let’s jump in:
“So I started doing an exercise program and realized a fallacy in my mindset. The program is called control freak and its really about taking control of the aspects of life that you can. I realize that I have had the mindset that you control nothing so that essentially made me lazy to the things I did actually do have control of. Yes I realize that we can’t control every aspect of our lives but when we take control of what we can, our lives can change. I guess biblically it goes back to self control or self discipline. But that’s been on my mind lately.”
Can I start by saying I LOVE THIS. One, I know this person, and I have actually often admired her ability to walk in “you control nothing.” I tend to be the opposite. You control everything. It took me years to learn we actually control very little. Courses in theology, ethics, and human development took me down a path where I discovered not everyone has boot straps to pull up, or big girl undies to put on. Those ideas transformed many of my thoughts in terms of society and culture, yet, even with all that learning, I still felt like I should be able to control things. And if I’m honest, most all the things.
So while my friend here journeys to manage the aspects of life she can, I keep trying to learn to let go and realize how very little I control. Where does your personality fall on the spectrum of control? Are there aspects in your life that you pretend you can’t do anything about, when really, volition stands right in front of you? Are there areas outside your sphere of self influence that you try to control? Things that really just don’t belong to you?
When Paul says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15) Do you hear that and toss up your hands – “Meh, oh well, just let it go.” or do you read that line and feel a sense of battle well upside you – “Ok. Work harder. Fix this.”
I consistently find myself returning to Jesus’ words found in Matthew 11, ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” A yoke means we have work to do; a harness, a coupling, a machine that balances out the energy of labor for co-workers. An example might be that thing you sometimes see holding two oxen together to pull a plow. I’ve read and heard interpretations of how Jesus uses this word more in reference to a system, a yoke of religion, maybe pointing out the difference in the restraints within the old system as opposed to his gentle and humble approach. Other bible commentaries mention submission, service, or a vehicle for grace. Regardless of how you turn the prism of his teaching, Jesus is extending an invitation. It’s a way to do things. To do things.
If the only two things you can control are your actions and attitude, there is a decent amount of opportunity located within just those two terms. It does release you of fixing others, but if you tend to thrive on being a people-fixer, the effort to align the how and why of your assistance will be a work within itself. And we could talk for days about the difficulty in giving yourself an attitude adjustment.
For my friend, the question might be, “What’s in your field to plow?” Where do we need to harness up and get to work?
For my other less-laid-back/more-like-my-high-strung-self friends, how are you yoked? What’s actually driving you? And if it’s not feeling very gentle or humble, does it deserve a second look?