Posts Tagged ‘control’

Self-control runs as a theme throughout the first two chapters of Titus. Was it the crowd he was teaching or did he have his own impetuous streak? Self-control requires working knowledge and understanding of oneself in order to initiate change. . . . along with a lot of grace.

Titus 2:11-12
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, . . .

The problem comes when I confuse self-control with controlling others. I know I can be a control freak and unfortunately, I tend to put too much effort into governing my outer environment and not enough energy toward my inner landscape.

I write a great deal about choice and working from the inside out to effect real transformation, and yet, it’s never been clearer to me that self-control is a state of mind and body that must be present as well.

I can’t do it my own. Maybe others can “count to ten” before speaking or take three deep breaths or snap a rubber band on the wrist as a reminder. None of these work for me.

I must depend on wild grace, the kind that covers a multitude of sins, the kind that flourishes in the chaos of my missteps and mistakes, the kind that works like a steady breeze off the ocean.

Sometimes self-control is not about “holding back” the angry shouts or demonic manifestations when my kids continue to put clean laundry on the floor or leave dirty dishes all over the house or go to bed with every light still on downstairs. Sometimes, self-control is about focus. It’s about narrowing the vision, intentionally putting on blinders, and working the moment.

There have been occasions when I have entered true Flow (developed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi), it’s a single-minded immersion that harnesses complete attention and energy. It is in these times that self-control is moot, it is not some additional requirement or add-on. I don’t have to “reach” for that self-monitoring state because it comes naturally within the Flow.

Is it possible to have Flow in the things of God? Is it possible to combine Flow with Grace? Something to think about.

By the way, I’ve started thinking about “grace” as “wild grace” because I see it capable of taming the worst of situations, of embracing the most unlovely, of breaking down the highest walls. There is an abandon to Grace that gives me hope in every circumstance.

There is nothing I can do that can’t be met by Grace. And so, perhaps that’s all I can do today is wrap myself in it so that control is flow.

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Matthew 7:7
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Which door will I choose if these three are before me:

  1. Behind door number one are all the experiences that God has for me today. Some may be wonderful but some may be difficult. There will be both sorrow and joy.
  2. Behind door number two will be only the experiences that I want to devise. I can have total control over them. I would know before I opened the door what to expect.
  3. Behind door number three would be the experiences that someone else would select for me. I could choose the person who would pick them out for me. I could probably guess what would be there based on the person who I select to design my day.

We all know what the answer should be. If only we could trust God with our lives each day. Sometimes, I trust God enough to open door number one, but then, when I peek inside, I slam it shut.

Today, I have a follow-up appointment for my teenaged daughter who, apparently, has inflammation of the spine (rheumatoid arthritis). Today, we will hear what her prognosis and treatment plan will be. As much as I would like this part of the day to be behind door number two or even three, I must open door number one in faith. Give me the grace I need. Give her some too.

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It’s interesting to me that self-control is the 4th leg of this journey for sustaining our faith over the long haul. This bears some comment in my mind that you must have your faith, then your virtue or ability to “do good” and then knowledge to understand the why of it all and only then, is true self-control possible.

This is a key for me right now, today. You see, I suffer terribly from lack of self-control … that is, self-control of the right type. Over the years, I have confused self-control with “control” in general. In other words, I try to control my environment and the people in my environment as a substitute for controlling myself. This is not God’s best plan for me (or for the poor souls that are entangled with me – e.g. my family).

I think things are getting better. One way I have learned to enter this process is by taking a “holy inventory” each day. During my devotion time, right after praising God for “who He is,” I speak the scripture outloud, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” [Psalm 139:23-24] and as God reveals those moments in the past 24 hours that were displeasing to Him, that were sin, that were out of control, I ask for His forgiveness. This is a cleansing time allows me to move on.

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