I’m not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. I would probably not enjoy it, if someone told me to hop in the car for an impromptu vacation and said, “We’ll figure it out as we go!” Who am I kidding? I wouldn’t even hop in the car! I like organization and planning. I like knowing what to expect. In fact, I don’t really like to feel out of control of anything. I’m a total planner who likes to have money put away for that inevitable rainy day fund. I am the girl who plans the wedding years in advance or maps out the future of my kids at birth. You know the type. I’m a recovering control freak. Now, I don’t admit that to you lightly. I have tried for years to cover it up in fancy “Christianese.” I’ll tell people that I’ve given a situation over to God, only to talk about with my friends far too much, worry about it way too often, and lose sleep repeatedly over that thing. And may I be completely transparent? There have been a million things.
When I was a little girl and young teenager, I needed to have my room spotless, bed made, closet and drawers organized, and everything neatly in its place. People told me that would change once I had children, but it didn’t. It just expanded. I kept their rooms clean, neat, and organized, their faces washed, and their clothes immaculately ironed. As they got older, I tried desperately to control their friends, choices, and futures... I worked hard to keep my budget in order, my health in check, and everything perfect.
The need to control (and the perfectionism that followed) has kept me in bondage for years. Perhaps it stems from past disappointment of others or failures of my own. Maybe it was having suffered through years of traumatic abuse. Whatever the cause, the need to control a situation (before it controlled me) has been an ongoing battle. Now, more than ever, I have been on a journey of self-discovery and some of the things I’ve discovered haven’t been easy, let me tell you! I have begun to dig deep into what Christ wants for my life versus what I have created in my life.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:11-13, “I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively.”
That’s the kind of life God wants for me (and you). He doesn’t want us bound by a small, fenced-in life. He wants us living and walking in the freedom that is found only in him. He wants us to enjoy the seasons of our life, whether expected or not. He wants to give us peace, even when life’s storms are tumultuous. As I’ve been on this journey of discovering how to lose control and find freedom in Christ, there are three things I have discovered that keep us from living freely:
Our mouth. Yep, that’s right. I can’t seem to keep mine shut. We generally want to talk all about the big ol’ mountains in our lives rather than the big God we have to move them. We want to whine about the challenges and how much bigger they seem than everyone else’s. It seems that sometimes we’d rather commit verbal suicide every day rather than speaking life to move our mountains!
Our past. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that when we accepted Christ as our Savior we became a new creation. And we know that Scripture promises us that Jesus is faithful to forgive us from our sins and spread them as far as the east is to the west, when we simply ask. It’s done. We’re forgiven. But why do we struggle to forgive ourselves? I have found that in my own life, if I’m not very careful, I keep looking back to my past, allowing it to control me, rather than walking in the freedom of my new life.
Our choice. Now, this is a hard pill to swallow. What do you mean our choice? Too often, we choose bondage. Don’t believe me? Listen to what Exodus 13:17-18 says, “When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God let them in a round about way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.” The Israelites had been begging for freedom from slavery for years and God delivered them miraculously from the Egyptians hands in a way that only he could have. Yet, he fully recognized that if they faced a battle, a challenge, a major life obstacle, that they may very well choose to go right back to the bondage that God had just set them free from. Isn’t that just like us?
The God that delivered the Israelites into freedom many years ago is the same God that sets people free today. He’s the same God that allows us freedom to walk in forgiveness, to let go of control, and sets captives free. Join me in this amazing journey to live the wide-open spacious life and leave the rest behind.
Jennifer Maggio is considered a leading authority on single parents and womens' issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who draws from her own experiences through abuse, homelessness, and teen pregnancy to inspire audiences everywhere. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and writes for dozens of publications. She has been featured with hundreds of media outlets, including The 700 Club, Daystar Television, Moody Radio, Focus on the Family, and many more. For more information, visit thelifeofasinglemom.com