Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Control and Serving

I have a friend who is going through crisis. Last night as I went to bed, I cried because I'm scared for her. I also cried for myself because her crisis echoes what's been happening in my family the last five weeks (it seems so much longer). I can't handle both. It's too much. What if, in the midst of all this, I got seriously ill? What then? I lay with my tears and fears and asked God, "What am I afraid of?"

I'm afraid of my world falling apart. Does that mean I see myself holding everything together? Perhaps. I tried to go to earlier places where I felt or was afraid of things falling apart but I couldn’t get there in my emotions, just with my logic. I thought of my parents' break-up when I was eight. I can’t remember any emotion around the night we left or afterwards.

Have I been trying to hold things together since I was a child? Is that why I took on so many responsibilities as a young girl at home, trying to keep my world from spinning out of control?

I don’t think I try to control my boys, but it hit me that I do try to control Tom and my marriage (something others have tried to tell me and I've disbelieved). Why? Why the one and not the other? Regardless, I have sinned with my control. I am not the protector of the family, God is.

The accident that nearly took my sister's life and cooked half her face when she was two and I was four; is that when my world started to move out of control? Yet I remember my pre-school years as the most idyllic. Susan was my best friend and companion then. That changed when I started school and when we left my dad two-and-a-half years later, the friendship died as I took on the role of parent.

This morning in my prayer room I asked God, "What’s the truth you want me to know about my fear that everything will fall apart if I let go?"

He told me that if I let go, I will free Tom up to be the person God made him to be.

How do I let go?

By serving.


I have not served my husband. Instead, I have withdrawn into my own world and shut him out. I've been aware of this withdrawal and the many barriers I have built to keep us apart (the fact that I was the builder of those barriers was a recent insight) and have been asking God to help me tear them down. Is serving the answer?

To find what others have to say about this, I googled Jesus, Control, Serving and found my way to "Refusing control: Jesus’ three temptations." Near the end of his lenten sermon (which I highly recommend reading), Monte Asbury writes, Jesus "would choose serving over impressing, and he would choose loving individuals over public spectacles."

I think I've seen service--at least to my husband--as a weakness, a way of becoming subjugated and dominated, the road to becoming a nothing. (I haven't been so good in the loving-him department either.) Interesting, that, because the sermon on Sunday was about Christ serving us. We know Jesus washed the feet of his disciples--a great act of humility and service--but in a parable, Jesus implies that he will be serving us in heaven:
It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. (Luke 12: 37, NIV)
That's amazing! It's one thing for Jesus to serve out of his humanity on earth, but in heaven where he is fully God? Serve and wait on us? That service will come out of his power, dominion and majesty. If God in heaven can serve his people, surely I can find strength and courage to serve my own husband!

Lord, I have sinned by trying to control my world instead of trusting you to make all things good and safe. Have my efforts to control things been the cause of my years of fatigue? Have I been expending my energy trying to do your job? Is loving service the answer to control? That's what I seem to be hearing. Am I willing to give up the control I've tried to maintain all these years, perhaps from childhood? I want to be. I want to throw myself into the safety of your arms and rest there. I can't keep on doing what I have been. I need to change. Please help me! Help me begin a life of service and as I do, please dismantle the barriers I've built and take control. I can't do this my way any longer. So be it.

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