Confessions of a Control Freak

Recently, I got to be the crazy lady at the car wash. Ever wonder what happens if you go through an automated car wash without putting your car in neutral first? You go flying through that baby like a bat out of the netherworld.

I kept thinking, "Hmmm, I don't think I've ever gone through a car wash this fast before" and, "Gee, I sure am catching up to that other car quickly." The attendants turned off the car wash and had me pull my car back out and try again—in neutral. I gave the attendants their adrenalin rush for the day.

Me? I got so tickled about the whole thing, I could hardly stop laughing to apologize. I hope they allow me back when the car gets dirty again.

I had to release control of my car to go safely through the car wash. I certainly intended to and forgot. Many times, I fail to give control of things or others to God.

I joke sometimes about being a control freak. But it's really a serious thing to spread my energy too thin, focusing on too many things, trying to influence or do things that are beyond my area of responsibility. Sometimes–no, often—I spend time making sure everything is "under control" instead of taking time to listen to and obey God.

Two biblical accounts showcase people who were guilty of this.

Martha tried to control Mary, asking Jesus to make her help, when Mary was listening at Jesus feet. Who doesn't identify with that?

But a far more serious example was Saul. When Saul was preparing for battle, he waited a week for Samuel to come and offer the requisite sacrifices. When Samuel tarried, Saul went ahead and offered the sacrifices, though not a priest.

He lost his anointing as king, because he was taking things into his own hands.

My pastor recently spoke about Saul's successor, David—a man after God's own heart. He challenged us to pay attention to our hearts above all else, to pay attention to our motives and attitudes.

Applying that to myself is fighting my natural (sinful) tendency to make everything perfect instead of taking time to tend to my own heart, pursuing God, and taking time to be shaped and directed by the Word. It's kept me out of trouble a lot lately. I catch myself starting to take over someone else’s responsibility or solve someone else’s problem and the Lord reminds me to focus on my own heart and my own responsibilities, pursue Him and let Him work in situations beyond my scope.

I also try to remember to put the car in neutral at the car wash.

“The Lord says,

‘Wise people should not boast that they are wise.
Powerful people should not boast that they are powerful.
Rich people should not boast that they are rich.
If people want to boast, they should boast about this:
They should boast that they understand and know me.
They should boast that they know and understand
that I, the Lord, act out of faithfulness, fairness, and justice in the earth
and that I desire people to do these things,’

says the Lord.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NET)

Beth Barron and her husband have worked cross-culturally for decades, first in the Middle East and now in the U.S. She teaches English to refugees and uses her writing skills to advocate for them. Beth enjoys writing, biking, vegetable gardening and connecting heart to heart with other women. She is involved in her church's External Focus ministry. She and her husband have three adult children, two daughters-in-love and three grandsons. Beth graduated from Rice University in Houston, attended Dallas Theological Seminary and is committed to life-long learning.