I would venture to say that a lot of stress is caused by trying to control things, people, and circumstances that are out of our control. There are few things more stressful than attempting to control what we lack the power to control.
The Root Of Control
Control is a response to whatever you are afraid of. Control is fear management.
If you’re afraid that something is going to happen to you, you can try to control the situation, so that whatever you’re afraid of doesn’t happen.
If you’re afraid that people won’t like you, you can try to control the way people see you, doing the best you can to hide what may cause others to dislike you, while accentuating or exaggerating what makes you more likeable.
Control is the way we serve the god we’re trusting in. When we’re seemingly in control, our god is pleased and we’re happy, but when our attempts at controlling things fall flat, our god’s requirements aren’t met, and we get stressed. If you worship what people think of you, then controlling how you appear to others is your service to your god.
If you find yourself stressed out trying to control something that is uncontrollable, ask yourself what you are afraid of?
What Fear Points To
How does one figure out what god they are trusting in?
Jon Foreman sings in one of his songs that “you can tell what you trust, by the things that you fear”. Your fear reveals where your trust lies.
Using our previous example, if you are afraid of people not liking you, then you are trusting in your ability to be liked.
The reason the gods we put our trust in cause us so much fear and stress is because they can’t be trusted or controlled.
If I don’t believe that the God I profess is trustworthy and in control, I will seek to replace Him with the best god I can come up with to do the job. Usually it’s ourself that becomes the replacement.
I think for most of us, the choice to replace God with ourselves as the object of our trust is not because we actually believe that we are necessarily a good option. It’s more that we believe we are the only option. The accumulated disappointment in our inadequate view of God and our accurate view of fallen people, has forced us to trust in the only thing left: ourselves.
Therein lies the problem and the solution.
I believe that one of the main reasons that most people are trusting in themselves is because they don’t really in their heart of hearts believe that they are loved by God. Brennan Manning said that “you will trust to the degree that you know that you are loved”.
Do you really believe that God loves you? Do you really believe that he is for you and not against you (Rom 8:31)? Do you really believe that God works all things for the good of those who love him (Rom 8:28)?
“You’ll trust to the degree that you know that you are loved.”
Some people believe that God loves them but they don’t believe that God is in control. A god who is not in control is a god who cannot be trusted, no matter how loving he may be.
If I don’t really believe that God is in control then I’m left trusting and hoping in my self to control.
It’s stressful because even the strongest, most capable people can’t control everything.
Rest happens when you are free to let go of trying to control what you can’t, because you’re safe in the arms of the God who’s in control of everything, and you know that he’s loving and good.
The more you trust, the less you fear, and the less you feel the need to control things, people, and circumstances.
That’s good news.
“We know and rely on the love God has for us.” (1 John 4:16 NIV)
(Image Credit: The Library of Congress)