Hi, my name is Sterling, and I have control issues...

"I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it / I'm about to lose control and I think I like it."

That song by The Pointer Sisters was popular back in my day. Maybe you heard Jessie Spano desperately singing it on Saved by the Bell, or you heard it played ad infinitum on the radio station in your car. Truthfully, I can't stand that song, but it's one of those that gets stuck in your heard and won't seem to leave. Now you're gonna be singing it to yourself the rest of the day. Sorry about that.

Even though that song was not my favorite, it resonates somewhat with my soul (I know, the song is about losing control in a relationship which is whole other ball of wax, but bear with me). Think back to your last day of school or what it felt like to finish that final exam before summer break. I used to literally scream with joy at the top of my lungs when I was done. School had a controlling issue on my life - it owned me for the better part of the year - and when I was out from under its yoke I got so excited that I just couldn't hide it...

I share all of that because I have a confession to make: I have control issues. There, I said it. It can drive me crazy when things are out of order or there is too much chaos. Having four kids has not helped me in this area; rather, it has highlighted just how jacked up I can be when it comes to my need to be in control.

Then there are those times when life and circumstances and culture seek to gain control over me and I realize that I am not the one steering the ship in the direction it should go. No matter how young or old you are, there will be people and events that will make every effort to dictate the direction your life should take. Some of these influences are subtle - the TV shows you watch and the music you listen to. Others are downright blatant - withering peer pressure and fear of rejection.

We either desperately want to be in control or we under the control of someone or something else. Not surprisingly, this tug of war is not good for your body, spirit, or mind. Something has got to give and when it does the pendulum usually swings in the opposite direction.

You see, whether it's you grasping desperately for control of your life or yielding that control to someone else who probably doesn't have your best interests in mind, being manipulated by control issues never satisfies. There simply isn't any joy in it. And without joy it's impossible to be happy and without happiness people will not want to be around you because you will be negative all the time and nobody wants to be around "that" guy or girl who is about as fun as having a wet blanket thrown over your head. Your presence should be more endearing that waterboarding.

This is where the 20th Century philosophers known as The Pointer Sisters come back into play. It's time to lose control and believe me, you're gonna like it. If you struggle with control issues then I'm about to drop a bomb on you: There is freedom in letting go. When you yield control of life's circumstances that you can never possibly hope to fix, you are free from those things defining who you are. And once you are able to break free from the grip of those who want to dictate your every move or thought, you are really on the road to freedom in your life.

You determine what controls you and makes you happy, not someone or something else. When you give up your rights to determine these things, then you are being controlled by those who more often than not don't have your best interests in mind. Just in case you are thinking that all of this sounds like the power of positive thinking and that I'm going to suggest getting rainbow and butterfly tattoos, think again. While the control that you seek to have over situations or the control that you yield to others is rarely ever healthy, there is another way that giving up control can truly set you free.

When you fully let go of control issues and allow God to be the giver and author of the joy in your life, then not only do you no longer have to worry about being in control but you also can rest well knowing that the One who is now in control is infinitely good and has your best interests in mind. Jesus came to earth to die for the sins of the world and to offer salvation to all who would believe. He didn't do this because He was just some nice guy or to give you a healthy option for life. No, God gave us Jesus because it is in Him that we find true joy and happiness.

Even on those days when it rains on your parade and it seems like work or school or home life has got you in a vice grip and happiness seems like a ridiculous suggestion, the joy of the Lord never runs out. That's because when you know Jesus, then your joy is based on what He has done for you, not what you can manufacture for yourself. And when that's the case, you don't have to try and wrestle control from other circumstances or people in hopes of finding your happiness. In Jesus, you already have all that you need.
This means that you can really start enjoying life. Is the house a mess or a deadline looming on the horizon? Take a break - go for a walk, throw the ball with your kids, sit on the porch, or watch a movie. What you can or can't control doesn't define you - Jesus does. Believe me, the mess and deadline will be waiting when you get back but you will also be better prepared to deal with them.

Are you in a relationship that is unhealthy or have you found yourself being pulled in a negative direction by cultural influences that are about as happy as a second degree diaper rash? Again, take a break - unplug from electronics and read a good book, spend time with family and friends who love you for who you are, or put your energy into a hobby that you've been neglecting.

You're about to lose control right now and chances are, you're really going to like it.

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