Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Relinquishing Control


This year I have been participating in a bit of a Lenten experiment. Instead of giving up chocolate, desert, or wine, I have given up something else entirely: control. Those who know me may be surprised. I'm not your typical "control freak." My house gets messy, my children get messy, I seem pretty relaxed. But the truth is, I cling to order and control. I think that as a mother, or as any other person who's involved in a high risk/ high energy occupation, order and control can be lifesavers. Routines are wonderful. Plans end up saving you time and energy in the long run, because who has the time to take two extra grocery runs mid-week?

But plans can also be obstacles: obstacles to listening to a unique idea presented by your child that doesn't fit into your schedule; obstacles to enabling your partner to do something that is meaningful and wonderful to him or her; and (and this has taken a while to sink in), ultimately obstacles to listening to the voice of God. During the first few weeks of this season, there were many times that I felt like the ground was pulled up from under me. Little things: a change in our dinner plans, a revamping of our children's schedule, just felt wrong at times. The control person in me wanted to fight for maintaining order, for clinging to that false sense of security that control can usher in. But instead, and this was a challenge, I just sort of went with it.

There have been times that things have fallen apart. Dinner has been an egg sandwich when it was supposed to be a roast. The children went to bed without a bath, the house wasn't clean. And there certainly is that little nagging voice in the back of my head that wants to say, "I told you so! I could have held this together better." But giving up control has given me the beautiful gift of being tuned in to the subtleties of the voice of God in the day to day. Like the serenity of a springtime walk, even if it happens to be four runny nosed humans taking that walk. Or welcoming unexpected help from neighbors with our older daughter which enabled me Ben and Lily to go for a run together (a rare treat!). And I think that it has also given the people in my family: my husband, my daughters (okay, mainly the older one... Lily's just a baby!) the gift of feeling my trust in their ability to make their own decisions. And ultimately, isn't that one of the goals of marriage, parenthood, friendship? Supporting the people you love to make their own decisions and mistakes and discoveries? And somehow, in that ambiguity, in that leap of faith that dangles in the chasm between certainty and uncertainty, I truly believe that we can feel the presence of God, the voice of God in our daily lives.

My mother recalls that one of the few observations my preschool teachers had to make was something to the tune of, "Adele? She's a boss." That is a gift. But learning to take a deep breath, readjust my expectations and go along with something totally unexpected is also a gift. And for once, I think that I have a Lenten resolution that will stick come Easter day.

This blog is a part of Steady Mom's 30-minute blog challenge.

11 comments:

Hannah said...

This is lovely. I've been going through a similar experience myself (recently, as I wrote about on my own blog, regarding our home group meeting -- but actually in all aspects of my life as well). Why does letting go feel like such a huge obstacle sometimes, when often we need to let go so God can give us something better?

Found you through the 30-Min. Challenge, by the way.

Lady Ren said...

I love this post Adele- You wrote so many things that I feel and that I should really think more about. I love how you said spontaneity gives trust to our little ones (and husbands) really wonderful- I am so happy to have read this right now.

Once Upon A Parent said...

I love that you gave up control for lent. That is a really meaningful thing and a true challenge as a mother. I think in a lot of ways we have to give up some control, but finding the balance is definitely tough. This will definitely give me some good food for thought this week.

Annie

Margo said...

oh. my. What a challenge to me - thank you. I have a lot to think about. I think my life is much better when I'm in control, but I see the wisdom of what you're saying. So I will ponder this - thank you.

heidi @ wonder woman wannabe said...

well said - what a great idea to 'give up' on a certain perspective or habit - hope your practice carries over beyond the lenton season.

blessings,
~h

Christian @ Modobject at Home said...

Oh, I loved this post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I can so identify with the control issue.

You've given me much to think about over the next few days and weeks as Baby arrives. Just today I was telling my mom, "Well this will be going on... and so-and-so is coming to town... and she gets anxious and has trouble coping with all of this... and I'll be stuck up there in a hospital room." Ahem... clearly I have some desires for control that need to be relinquished.

And this thought is beautiful:
"And I think that it has also given the people in my family: my husband, my daughters (okay, mainly the older one... Lily's just a baby!) the gift of feeling my trust in their ability to make their own decisions. And ultimately, isn't that one of the goals of marriage, parenthood, friendship? "

KDL said...

I am a total control freak. Sometimes I think I HAVE to be, even when I don't want to be, but you have encouraged me to consider letting go of the reins a little more. Will definitely ponder this some more...

Adele said...

It's so nice to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this. And it certainly does remain a day-to-day struggle, the last 24 hours not having been the best. I'm taking a breath and starting over... thank goodness we can do that. :-)

sara said...

Wow. Your words really hit home with me today. Thank you for sharing this personal journey with us! What an incredible testimony to who is really in control!

Irene said...

Thanks so much for this. What a good reminder.

Anna said...

Well said, my friend. Well said.