By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
Life often doesn’t go as planned, does it? And when it doesn’t, you may find yourself desperate for control.
Maybe you planned to be married by now and Mr. Right never showed up. Or, maybe he did but he wasn’t so right, and now you’re alone again.
Perhaps you had plans of having a certain number of children and that plan fell through. Or, perhaps you had grand financial plans or were going to travel internationally, buy that house or even retire early and then COVID-19 happened. As a result, you lost your job, your investments fell flat, and you’re caring for aging parents.
There’s nothing more frustrating than when our lives are turned upside down and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it, except become women on the edge who are desperate for control.
When I wrote my book, Women on the Edge, I surveyed a hundred women and asked them what they were desperate for. I also asked them what it was they wished they could control.
Their responses showed me the questions were one and the same. They also showed me that all women, no matter how we cloak it, have a desire and a natural bent for control.
Why do women seek control? It goes back to our Ancestress--the very first woman created--Eve.
Cursed with a Desire to Control
Genesis 1:27-28 tells us we were made in the image of God. God’s command to “fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” was to both the man and woman (verse 28, NIV). That means Eve, the first woman, was commanded to rule creation alongside her husband. But after Eve decided she wanted more than was given her, her punishment consisted of being cursed with an unquenchable desire for control.
When God punished Eve for her disobedience, He said in Genesis 3:16: “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (NASB, emphasis added).
Eve’s resulting desire for her husband, as a result of her sin in the Garden wasn’t a sexual desire. Nor was it an emotional longing for his love and attention. The word desire in the context of that verse refers to an unhealthy desire that could bring about destructive results. The Hebrew word for desire in that verse is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 4:7 when God confronted Cain for being jealous of his brother, Abel, and said, “Sin is crouching at your door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
When God told Eve that she would desire her husband, but he would rule over her, God was saying she would covet his control, and seek the position of authority that Adam was given. Her desire, or drive, would be to have the authority in the relationship. And that desire to control – that blinding obsession to get out from under male authority and have things our way – has been a source of frustration and edginess for women ever since.
In my book, Women on the Edge, I point out that we often ask or expect God to control the things we don’t want to take responsibility for – like our weight loss, our spending, our temper, our mouths that sometimes get us into trouble. Yet, we hold onto (and try to control) bigger things that we are powerless to change, such as our future, someone’s health, our day-to-day circumstances, another person’s heart or attitude.
Scripture tells us there are only two things we really can control: Our own attitudes and our own actions. So, what’s a control-seeking woman to do?
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/kieferpix
Take Responsibility for the Things You Can Control
God's Word contains instruction to control ourselves. Consider what His Word, specifically, commands that we control.
- Control your speech. Ephesians 4:28-29 says, "let no unwholesome word proceed out of our mouths but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear."
- Control your responses: James 1:19 tells us to be "quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger."
- Control your thought life: Philippians 4:8-9 instructs us to dwell on "Whatever is pure and right and lovely and of good repute."
Those are a few of the attitudes and actions we are responsible for. The rest of the things we think we can control – or think we must control -- go on God’s list.
Surrender to God All That You Cannot Control
Throughout the Bible, God reassures us He has a plan for our lives and He is in control of it, regardless of how things might look. The psalmists sang it, the Old Testament prophets declared it and the New Testament writers confirmed it: God is the One who is in control.
- God is in control of your safety and protection
You can invest in a top-of-the-line security system for your home and take all sorts of precautionary measures to protect everything you have, but ultimately God is the One who protects you and keeps you safe. The Psalmists tell us: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8). And Psalms 121:2-3 assures us: “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber... (Psalm 121:2-3)”
- God is in control of your destiny
You can plan out your life, but ultimately God is in control of your destiny. Scripture tells us He knows the end of our days and has assigned us our “portion” and established our “delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-8 tells us, “LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the LORD, who counsels me…Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
- God is in control regardless of how fearful your situation looks
We sometimes look at our circumstances and think God is not there, or we think He is unaware of our situation and that we need to step in and control things, ourselves. But Scripture assures us God is ever aware and ever in charge. Psalm 46:1-3 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
- God is in control even when it looks like you’ve made a mess of things
God is so gracious that even if we start trying to control things and we mess up, He steps in and gets us back on the right path. Psalm 37:23-24 assures us: “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” And Romans 8:28 tells us “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
- God is in control of your personal provision
If God can control the vast complexities of the universe, He can control the circumstances and events in your life to provide what you need. Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” And Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-26 that your heavenly Father provides food for the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field, so He is capable of providing for your needs, as well. That sounds like a pretty clear “Don’t worry about it” statement from the Son of God, Himself. In other words, “You have a God who is in control, so don’t you feel you have to be!”
He Can Take Care of You
Why is it that we can take the huge step of trusting God with our eternal life, but we can’t take the small step of trusting Him with our everyday life? If He can hold the galaxies in place, He can hold your marriages in place. If He can provide for every living thing, He can provide for you and your family until your next paycheck. If He can change the hearts of kings, He change the heart of your husband or child.
Give God the credit He deserves. He can control everything that you think you must…and everything you’re convinced you can’t. And if God’s not doing something that you can see – or hasn’t done something that you had hoped He would – then He has a pretty good reason for it, a reason He may choose not to reveal to you. Trust Him.
Lord, take our desire for control and replace it with a desire for the Only One who really is in control. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Simon Lehmann
Cindi McMenamin is a pastor’s wife, award-winning writer, national speaker, and the author of several books to help women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and one another. She and her husband, Hugh, co-authored the book When Couples Walk Together: 31 Days to a Closer Connection. Some of her books to help you combat fear and strengthen your trust in God include When Women Walk Alone (more than 145,000 copies sold), Women on the Edge, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You and When Women Long for Rest. You can find out more about her ministry, books, and free resources at www.StrengthForTheSoul.com .