The Illusion of Control

If there is one thing I have learned this year, it is that I am not in control of much. What I mean is that I am responsible the outcome of very, very little. Yes, I decided what shoes I put on today. I control what foods I eat (or don’t eat). Aside from what I wear and what I eat, there really isn’t a lot else that I am in control over. Oftentimes, I strive to be in control of those other things though, which is why I made this list of things over which I have no control.

Things I do not Control

1. When I wake up (Anyone who has lived with a cat can attest that your sleep is only allowed when the cat’s stomach is completely full and food dish is not empty in the least.)

Beijo, His royal highness

Beijo, His royal highness

2. When I get to work (Traffic and the garbage truck that decided to block the drive sometimes inhibit my prompt arrival)

3. My work hours (Students text at all hours. People show up in my office when they need me, not by appointment. I am learning how to find ways to drop what I’m doing when someone steps into my office.)

4. Ideas that fail. (As a student I was under the impression that if I put a lot of effort into something, it would succeed. That’s not always the case though. Sometimes ideas or ministries fail, not because I didn’t give my all, but because the outcome is beyond my control.)

5. Other people’s decisions (This is a hard one for me. Even if said decisions impact me, I don’t get a say in the decisions other people make. However, I guess that I do get a say in how I respond to them.)

6. Other people’s perception of me. (How others see me is something I regret to say that I spend a lot of time and energy dwelling on. However, other’s perception is impacted in many ways by things beyond my control. I’ve got to understand that not everyone wants to be my friend or finds me a pleasant person to be around. It’s just the truth.)

7. Other people in general. (I like to think that I can control how other people are involved or invested in my ministry setting, but that is just not true. I like to think I can control how people will respond to me, my words, or my actions. Again, it’s a lie. When I release the illusion of control I think I have over other people, I can respond to them with grace and love.)

As a math major, I spent a lot of time learning equations and how to formulate them to take into account every possible variable. I would spend time in applied mathematics courses and physics courses trying to determine every little thing that impacted a particular observed or theoretical solution. For instance, I would try to determine the amount of force needed to create a certain acceleration based on the mass of a given object. Well, F=ma, but how do you account for friction? How about directionality? These little things add up. And yes, it is possible to figure out very accurately the exact amount. Fhsst_forces12Physics might work like that, but life doesn’t. I can’t factor in every little variable and determine how someone will react. Or gauge my decisions based upon the decisions another person might make and the amount of sleep I could get tonight. You see, it is more complicated. I need to be able to release control and to quit thinking I am in control. Control is an illusion.

So, I’m letting go of needing to be in control because I’m not. I choose instead to respond to whatever life throws at me with love, grace, and hope…. or at least try.

2 thoughts on “The Illusion of Control

  1. Thank you for a thoughtful and very true article. One of the most important realizations in life is that we aren’t in control of what happens to or around us. I actually just wrote an article about this myself. If you have a chance, check it out. You may not agree with all my views, but I would be curious to know what you think. Thanks!

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