The Beauty of Letting Go (of Control)

jesus reaching his hand out through the water

It is no secret that I like to be in control.  I learned a long time ago that control is an illusion, but nevertheless, I like to at least feel like I am calling the shots.  I like to know where my kids are at all times.  I like to make plans and lists and itineraries.   I only like pleasant surprises, not anything that interrupts my scheduled to-do list!

But let’s be really honest for a moment…there is no such thing as control.  In fact, it feels like the world is spinning out of control.  Nobody seems to know which way is up anymore!  Where are we headed?! It is enough to keep you up at night, I know that for sure!  If we are being totally honest here, trying to be in control is really just a coping mechanism for anxiety.  The future feels uncertain….let me under the wheel!  I can get us somewhere that I feel safe!

It’s natural to want to know what is ahead, instinctual even.  We want to know what the plan is, where we are headed.  Let me mentally/emotionally/physically prepare for what is to come.  It is no longer enough to have the weather reported three times per day on television; give me an app so I can get hourly, even minute by minute updates.  I need to know!  I need to prepare!  I need to be able to control this!

The truth is simple: I won’t ever truly be in control, because my viewpoint is very limited.  God is so much wiser than to let us steer the ship.  And the biggest truth is that FAITH gives up control.  Faith is trusting my Leader so much, that I don’t need to know the next steps, the big picture, the plan.  Faith is keeping my eyes on Jesus and just doing the next thing He is calling me to do, no matter how much it doesn’t make sense to me. 

I left a wonderful, stable, comfortable job almost four years ago to do something that, to many, made no sense.  Even to me it didn’t really make sense, but I knew, by faith, that God was calling me to do it.  And step by step, it has become the most beautiful journey.  Many people call things like that a “leap of faith”, but I have come to recognize it more like a little baby learning to walk—one small step at a time.  One small step of faith leads to another and then another.  Some small steps are scarier than others.  Some feel natural.  Some are definitely forced.  But with each step, I feel my Father’s voice a little closer, and I realize that I don’t have to be in control. 

Y’all, it is so freeing to let that control go!  It is a huge release when you realize that even if the worst case scenario happens, God’s still got your back!  You will be OK no matter what!  In fact, you’ll be better than OK—you will be full of peace and joy, because you don’t have to make all the decisions.  You don’t have to work it out or make it happen.  You only have to be still and KNOW that God is in control!  Just take the next little step.

My favorite disciple is Peter, and my kids and I talk about this from time to time.  I want them to know that even when your mouth gets away from you, or your actions don’t line up with what you believe, God loves you! I could go on and on about how the stories of Peter and the way Jesus loved him (anyway) have emboldened my faith and enriched my relationship with Jesus.  But for today, when I am working on giving up control, I will ponder the story of Peter walking on water.  It reminds me of my own journey the past few years and reminds me of an important thing I often forget.  Jesus sent the disciples ahead on a boat while he went to be alone.  His cousin/friend John had been killed, and he needed to grieve.  Later that evening, he walked out on the water to meet up with his disciples.  When they saw him coming across the water, they were terrified, thinking it was a ghost!  But then He spoke.  And they recognized his voice.  Peter, crazy guy, said, “If it’s you, Jesus, tell me to come to you and I will walk on water too!”  (Paraphrased here.)  So, Jesus told him to come, and Peter took that step out onto the water.  But after a couple of steps, he took his eyes off Jesus and looked around at his circumstances.  Oh, dookey!  (Can y’all feel this?!  I feel it way down deep!)  The wind, the waves, the world…..what am I doing out here?!  Peter starts to sink, but of course, Jesus reaches down and grabs his hand, pulling him back up.  I just see Jesus sort of smiling, shaking his head, “Peter, Peter, Peter.  Why did you doubt? Keep your eyes on me!”  Or in my heart, “Allison, Allison, Allison.  What are you panicking about? Why are you trying to take control again?  Just keep your eyes on me!”

When I was a little girl, Daddy would let me sit in his lap and “drive” on country roads all across Haralson County.  (It was obviously a different time then!) I really thought I was driving!  But his hand never left the wheel.  His feet operated the pedals the whole time.  A Father always protects His children.  We may have some idea of being in control, but thank you, God, that your hand never leaves the wheel.  Thank you for always snatching us up out of the waves when we take our eyes off you.  Thank you, sincerely, for NOT letting me be in charge.  Thank you for the beautiful places you are taking us and for the freedom to walk with you every step of the way, trusting that you have it all under control!

Hang in there, friends!  God’s got this!

In His Love,

Dr. Allison