Controlling what can't be controlled
You know when you get the opportunity to butt into the hard parts of your personality? Those times you feel in the moment or usually look back afterwards and say, I think I could have done that better. The Windrush retreat we just had a few weekends ago was an opportunity for growth for me. I found myself wanting to control the situation. I wanted to make sure X was communicated just so, and I wanted X person to hear the words just so, and I wanted to energy to be just so, and the list went on…
I think to an extent when you have even a small amount of ownership over something it is natural to feel the desire for it to go well. I care about Windrush as a vehicle to communicate to my friends and family who they are in Jesus. What their identity is and that the Lord can speak to them. I had friends there that are very spiritual, yet do not connect to a traditional western Christianity. It was important for me to help them feel welcome and that they could feel enough peace in the space we created to not be triggered by Christian words or talk.
As we started the day and I read through the schedule and the day began, my thoughts swirled. How will this all be received? Are there too many Christian words? How will our version of communion be received? These were valid questions that can quickly turn to control and anxiety.
This idea came to my mind: "Do I really think the Lord is surprised by anything happening here?” I am asking, “Do I trust that God is at work in this retreat?" Even in the midst of all its imperfections? The answer for me was multifaceted.
- Did I earnestly pray for my friends, family and the retreat as a whole? YES
- Is anything being communicated or anything on the schedule harmful? NO
- Are these thoughts and feelings I am working through of the Lord or of myself? Control - ME
As I referenced above, I care about the situation. My heart and worry were in a good place which can often trip us up. Yet what I kept coming back to the simple question of did I think the Lord was surprised? My answer is/was an emphatic no!
The emphatic “no” allowed me to relax and trust. The Lord knew the guest list in advance. He didn’t miss a name, and the speaker has a vibrant faith that communicates with the Lord. Most of what I wanted to control was out of my control no matter what role I played in planning or putting on the retreat. I can’t control how something is received. I can’t control or know what is too much or just enough of a particular vernacular. For me the retreat became an invitation to let go of control and to trust.
If we are honest, most of us have an issue with control. I know for me the question of “What am I trying to control?” hits too close. I would challenge each of us to lean into the question of control. Try it. It's a good place to sit.
What are you trying to control? What does that mean you believe about God’s presence in the situation?