Losing Control

Control    Since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to know how and why things happen. I like to understand what’s going on, to be able to predict an outcome, to have a certain amount of control over my world.

Which is why I’ve had a hard time recently.

For the last year and a half, I’ve been taking a medication to prevent the chronic migraines I’ve had since college. It helped for a time, but over the last few months, my migraines began to come back full force. Nothing I tried really made a difference, so after talking with my doctor, I decided to wean off the medication. The side effects of this medicine were difficult to deal with, even on the best days, so I was looking forward to having those chemicals out of my system. What I didn’t expect was how rough the weaning process would be. As I gradually decreased dosage, my body went haywire.

Unexplained swelling. Terrible nightmares. A metabolism that forgot how to function normally. And there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I had no control.

What is it about losing control that makes me feel panicky?

I remember a time, long ago, when I didn’t feel the need to hold everything so tightly. When life just flowed and I laughed and dance and slept a deep and unworried sleep, receiving what I needed from the hands of parents who loved me.

Fearsome reality hadn’t intruded yet, ready to shred my security and steal my peace. I hadn’t learned yet that life isn’t always kind.

But now I know. And it shakes me to the core. My hands are weak, and I cannot tame a single day.

I do not control the things that can bring me joy, the things that could push me to my knees in grief. Terrible things happen sometimes, with no warning and no explanation. The people I love are independent creatures. My children could make choices that leave me aching and desperate. My world can change in a heartbeat – one phone call, one check-up, one conversation…

If I let my mind dwell there, in the swirl of capricious chaos, the dread of tomorrow steals the laughter from today.

My temptation is to try to manipulate my circumstances and the people around me so I can feel like I have some power, so I can stay safe. Either that or I fill my life so full that I never have the chance to let the “what ifs” rise to the surface. But in the quiet of the late night, I end up just feeling tired and scared.

There are questions that refuse to be ignored.

So, slowly, with a pounding heart and often tears, I am learning to welcome these questions and let them sink in deep. As I sort through the layers of worry, stand toe-to-toe with my fear, I am realizing there is one question at the core of it all.

    Can I trust God?

Do I believe that he really knows what’s best for me? Do I believe that my mother’s death at age 59 could be what we needed, what she needed? Do I trust that God loves me, loves the people I love, and is big enough to make beauty grow out of any dark and terrifying thing that comes? That he can redeem sinful choices and heal hearts that are torn wide open?

That I really can receive all he has for me, even if what he has for me is something I cannot understand on this side of eternity?

As I gradually turn my eyes to my God, my Father, and choose to trust that he knows what he’s doing, something amazing is happening. Peace is blooming, silent and fragrant. The grasping and clutching at security is giving way to an open-handed receiving of blessings and struggles alike, since they both are allowed by someone whose love is deep and high and wide, who is working all things together for my good.

My body is still not behaving in a predictable way, I still cannot see what might come, and most of life is still far beyond my control. But as I spend less time worrying, I find that I have more energy to enjoy the good things, to laugh and dance and embrace a future that is already in the hands of a good God.

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Ephesians 3:18, Romans 8:28

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