seems to be a part of human nature for us to want to control
situations in our lives and the lives of others. After all,
we want to be helpful, to help others by making sure that
situations work out well for all involved. And sometimes it
seems to us that the only way that we can make things turn out
okay is by taking over and controlling that situation ourselves.
I see parents do
it with their kids in college: by calling their kid every
day and "checking in on them," they make their
presence--and their expectations--constantly clear. That's
supposed to "motivate" the kid. Other parents try
to give advice on every topic under the sun to their kids, fully
expecting the children to follow that advice to the letter.
This is called micromanaging, though, and it's usually more
indicative of the parent's fear of failing the other person than
it is of the kid's need for such constant input.
We simply fear
being out of control. We fear watching things and events
spiral out of control, harming us and those people we love.
We fear facing a situation in which we have no control, and we
fear situations reaching that point, so we try to "make
sure" that nothing in our lives ever gets that far.
though, comes from a lack of confidence or faith in life and in
God, whatever you perceive God to be. Life has been going on
for many, many years without our input, and it's been going along
fine. In fact, it seems clear that life has a harder time
doing its thing the more we interfere with it. We're not
willing to let the river flow as it will--we want to make sure
that we control the amount of water that's flowing, the direction
in which it flows, and when it stops and starts flowing. If
we can do that, we can make sure that the river never will
overflow its banks, and we can be sure that no one will be hurt by
But the river's
not under our control. Our kids' lives aren't under our
control. My spouse's life isn't under my control, nor is my
neighbor's nor my father's or mother's. When I try to
control them and fail at it--as I ultimately must--I'm building
frustration and aggravation into my life as well as theirs.
It's admirable to
want to save other people pain and suffering and
aggravation. But their lives are up to them, and it's not my
responsibility to control them. I can be there to help when
I'm asked for help, but if I interfere without asking, I'm not
doing anybody any good at all.
Trying to control
life is a losing battle from the beginning. It's important
that we step back and see whether our influence (not control) may
be helpful or useful in a given situation, but if we constantly
try to make sure that everything turns out fine, we will fail time
and time again. Isn't it important to use our strength and
power in situations in which we truly do have influence (in our
jobs and relationships, for example, focused on our own actions)
rather than in ways that are doomed to be wastes of that energy?