Controlling Turtle


I like it, apparently. A lot. As long as it belongs to me and no one is asking me to release it.

It’s tricky, I’ve discovered, to identify my death grip on control, because it hides behind things that are not inherently or obviously bad. So I think that I’m holding on to responsible or well prepared or detail oriented. But not control.

And then something happens that forces me to take a closer look. Does this happen to you? Sin hides in your life, and you don’t even realize it’s hiding there until you slam into something enormous that leaves you spinning on your back like a flipped over turtle, unable to find up from down or left from right. And you’re laying there. Helpless. Wondering what in the heck you just ran into that would have caused such a ruckus. And you’re not quite sure how to get right side up again so that you can properly identify the thing that got in your way. But this new perspective and your slightly disoriented sense of direction combined with your inability to do much of anything but wait has given you a very new and different perspective.

And you see the hiding sin thing that you never would’ve seen had you been right side up. And in control.

Just to be clear, for all us control freaks, it’s all false – our sense of being in control. We aren’t ACTUALLY in control of anything. In our hearts we make our plans and weave our web of false control, but in the end it is God above who determines our every step. I always think, “Phew…I’m glad I’ve learned that lesson. It took me a lot of tries, but me and God? We’ve got that one taken care of.” And almost immediately I find my self spinning on my back again staring at another hiding place for control.

It hides behind savings accounts and job security and home ownership.

It hides behind vitamins and wellness checks and Web MD.

It hides behind birth control and family planning and “We’re not ready yet.”

It hides behind helmets and seat belts and blinkers.

It hides behind planners and check lists and meal schedules.

Darn that control – it’s hiding all over the ever-lovin’ place in my life! Please hear me when I say that none of these things are wrong in and of themselves. They are all good things. God-honoring things, even, but when they represent a false sense of control instead of a desire to be responsible with what God has given me, that’s when things get CA-razy up in here!

My need for control is so bad that when I find myself totally helpless and stripped of control in one area of life, I frantically grasp for control in another area. Any area will do. For example, after that second miscarriage, when the deep awareness sunk in that I was absolutely NOT in control of whether or not we would have more children, I frantically jumped all over Josh about the fact that we MUST buy a house ASAP. What can we do to buy a house right now? We need a house. Really, though, tell me what my job is in making sure that the house buying happens soon. Tomorrow maybe. Like I said, CA-razy up in here.

And then I read this passage in Jeremiah that I’m totally going to paraphrase because it’s talking about sex – which is not what I’m addicted to – but it led me to realize that I am addicted to control. Like a drug. Here’s the gist:

How dare you tell me, “I’m not stained by sin. I’ve never chased after a sense of control”! Well, look at the tracks you’ve left behind in the valley. How do you account for what is written in the desert dust – tracks of a crazy dictator, running this way and that, sniffing the wind for the slightest scent of control. Who could possible reign him in? On the hunt for control, control, and more control – insatiable, indiscriminate, insane. Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, “I can’t help it. I’m addicted to control. I can’t quit.” Jeremiah 2:23-25

So what do I do when I find myself there…again? I look up. And ask for help from the only one who has control anyway. He reaches down and flips me right side up again. And in this case, I’m removing things from my life that lead me to lean on control. Not seat belts or helmets. Seat belts are still there 🙂 But other things that force me to lean on Jesus. Force me to acknowledge that I never had any control to begin with. And allow me to rejoice in knowing that He really does do whatever He wants.

Keep on keepin’ it down and dirty. Love y’all like crazy!

4 thoughts on “Controlling Turtle

  1. Loved this post… we've been touching on this in Sunday School and bible study… Guess God's trying to tell me something 😉
    Love you and love your willingness to be honest so that God can use your words to encourage others.

  2. Emily I am crazy about this post! There are so many good things here . But that controlling turtle is going to stick with me for a long while! I ran into my something, and have been flipped upside down for a good while. Wondering how long He will let me flip around till He right sides me up.

    Thanks for linking up!

  3. First time to your blog, visiting from "Write It Girl". LOVED this post!! I so relate…boy, control is a tricky thing that weaves its way into our hearts. I often know it's there…but because of my control-freakedness, I still don't let it go.

    Workin' on that, by His grace. 🙂

    Love your blog, too! So glad I clicked through…have a blessed evening!

  4. Hi, I found your blog through stacey29lincoln's tweet. I love what you wrote about control and a turtle on it's back. No wonder I feel so helpless when things don't go the way I think they should! I'll be back to read more on your blog. 🙂

    In Christ,

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