Have you ever thought that your loved ones would be better off if they would let you tell them what to do?
“Don’t marry him, he’s trouble!”
“Here, let me fill out your college schedule for you.”
“I don’t think you should move right now.”
“Put down the cheesecake! You know you’re on a diet.”
“You can’t go to a different church. You belong here.”
“You want to buy what? You don’t need that.”
“Hey, do what I tell you to do and everything will be great.”
I have had similar thoughts recently. How many of us would like to be in control? I like making the decisions or at least having a major influence. I have been wondering if some our struggles come from the desire to control. When I get upset with the decision a person makes, for example, moving away or changing churches, is it because I have no control over what they are doing? Do I try to control them through manipulation by withholding favor, withdrawing, judging or suggesting that they are not listening to God? Our son is 21 now and I no longer have “control” over him. It is hard to let go of “trying” to control. But that kind of manipulation drives people away, it harms relationships. I think of some religious groups who seek to “control” their followers. People have been ostracized, harassed, hurt and even killed because groups want to control them and force them to follow all their rules. The only way to “control” a person is through force, threats or coercion. How does God deal with us? Does He control us? If we are making a wrong choice, does He say, “Stop! I will not allow you to make that choice!” No, He may warn us, convict us and tell us what He wants but He gives us freedom to make the choice. And when we make the wrong choice, He is waiting to love us and welcome us back. He does not try to control us by giving us the cold shoulder or withholding His love until we get it right.
Do I control you or you control me?
That is the battle you see.
Do I care only about my feelings or
do you care only about yours?
Isn’t love desiring the best for another?
Love is not control,
but letting go.
Not what is best for me, but what is best for you.
Is love always easy?
Does it flow like a brook?
No, sometimes it is the hardest.
It can mean swimming against the current
in the rapids.
Is love worth it?
Is it worth the pain?
Is it worth the sacrifice of self?
Is it worth trying to understand each other?
Maybe we each have to answer that for ourselves.
For me, it is worth it to share with another,
to have the times of joy,
the times of oneness.
There are more good times than bad,
more happy than sad.
Love, I think, brings
the deepest pain,
but also…the highest joy.
“Love…is not self-seeking…” I Corinthians 13:4-5
God didn’t create us to be puppets and he does not want us to treat each other that way. He gives us the freedom to choose to love Him or not, to follow Him or not, yes, we will face the consequences of our choices but He allows us to make the choice. Even when we think we know what is best for someone else (with the exception of our minor children) it is not our place to control his or her choices.
Think about someone you have been upset with recently. Is your lack of peace with them connected to wanting to control their decisions? Would letting them go also set you free?