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On the Side - November 2015

Out of Control
By Sharon Chatwell

I like being in control. Like you, I am married to a physician, but I am also trained as a physician as well.  So I feel qualified in saying that most doctors don’t like the feeling of being out of control.  It just makes us crazy.  We want answers.  We spend our professional lives in search of them.  We want facts… all of the facts… and we want them now… and we want them organized in nice, neat, little rows.

As a stay at home mom, I can tell you that at first I tried very hard to make sure that everything in my life was straight and well-organized in my home.  After all, it had been before I had children.  Why should things change just because I had two little ones under the age of 3?

Yeah, right.  That didn’t last long. Soon, I had to face the reality of disorganization and I had to learn to let some of the smaller things go.  Perhaps the toys didn’t always have to be arranged neatly on the shelves.

Actually, it’s probably a wonder that I survived the next few years.

Looking back now over 30 years of marriage and raising four (count ‘em -  four) children, I realize how good God was in taking me through this seemingly life-long lesson in such tiny steps.  It makes me smile now to think of how uptight and upset I used to be when everything in my house didn’t look just right.

Over the years I’ve been through lots of difficult times, but within the past 12 months I’ve been through as difficult a period as I would ever care to go through.  It seems as if God has been marching me through one disaster after another, each seemingly bigger than the last.  And do you know the worst part?  In each case, there was absolutely nothing I could do to make the situation better.  In fact, in most of the cases things just got worse with my intervention.

Finally I came to the horrible realization that my desire to control these situations was a huge and integral part of the problems themselves.  I had to quit meddling in things over which I had no authority.  This was hard for me to do, because in more than one case it meant backing away from people I cared about, who in my opinion were doing things that might very well destroy their lives.

So, I did.  I walked away.  I separated myself from 3 different people in 2 weeks time whose behavior was very disturbing to me.  I was kind and straightforward about it; but I told them all what I was doing and why.  Then I took appropriate measures to make sure that they had been supplied with other people to help deal with their issues, and I backed off.  The effect was immediate.  There was dramatically less stress in my life and I felt better.

Amazingly, my three friends also began to do better!  It seems that when I wasn’t always there involving myself in their lives and trying to fix everything for them (or in other words trying to control their lives) they began interacting with other people and living their own lives much more effectively.  Imagine that!

I remember a story about Jesus and His Disciples, some of whom were expert fishermen.  These men had been raised near the Sea of Galilee and had been working in and around boats all of their lives.  They were out making a crossing of this sea when a huge storm came up and threatened their lives.  They had made many crossings like this and had seen many storms, but this one was so bad that they felt out of control.  They ran to the back of the boat and woke up Jesus who was asleep there.   And they said to Him:  “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:25-26)

My life is like that sometimes.  Sometimes when I feel desperately out of control, I can also feel afraid or even angry.  And at those times, just like the men in the boat, I may run to God and even scream at Him and say something like, “Don’t you even care that I’m drowning?”

Can you imagine doing that and having Jesus sit up calmly and say something like, “What were you thinking?” or possibly something holier sounding like “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?”

What a fool I am.  I don’t have to be in control, because I belong to the One who is in control.  And even if the unthinkable does happens and my little boat capsizes in the waves of life, Jesus is still there.  I can always just take His hand, like a little child, and walk upon the water with Him.  I suppose that it’s okay to be out of control, when you are with the One who is in control.

Sharon is a physician’s spouse and lives happily in Lincoln, Nebraska.  She says that she currently practices being out of control at least once a day.

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