Not sure how to start this but just to say that the drive that we so often have to try to have control over everything and everyone in our lives is such a trap. I am so thankful that God has taught me to let go. You will never know how free you can feel until you trust God with the world, your life and all the people in it so you can fly free! It is the best feeling I have ever had.
For so long, I lived with the frustration of trying to make everyone do what I thought they should. I still do it some now, so don’t think I don’t still struggle with this. I do. You get this warped idea that somehow you know everything that’s best for everyone. I know I do. Just read some of my other blog posts! 😉 You will see it there.
The problem comes when you get so stressed by this feeling that you have to MAKE everyone see things your way — that you have to force people to wake up and conform to your wonderful wisdom for their own good. It’s an exercise in ultimate frustration. There is just no way you can make anyone do anything short of holding a gun on them, and even then you can’t make them think the way you want.
So, what do you do when people won’t behave or think the way you want? Write them off as idiots and have nothing more to do with them? That’s one way I’ve seen people handle it, but I find that way sad. It’s sad because from my perspective you miss so much that way. People who don’t think like you do are just human too and trying to live the best they can. Maybe they are wrong about some things, but, face it, you are too almost certainly. Nobody is perfect. And, who knows? By being friends, or at least friendly with them anyway, you could teach them some things, or they could teach you. It could be a two-way street and you’ll both learn something.
For me, the greatest thing to do is just give up. By that I don’t mean you become defeatist. No. You still have hope. You still see their weaknesses and faults even, but you don’t let those things tie you up because you realize that there is nothing you can do about them. I have learned to give these folks up to God. I pray for them, and let God work in their lives. I know he’s worked in mine and changed me a lot in my years on Earth. I’m sure He can handle changing them too.
Even if they ignore God’s instructions all their lives, even if they ignore all of your kindnesses and never change, you will still free yourselves from being responsible for them. Remember, they are free to make their choices, just like you are.
The golden rule applies here, I think. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you like it if someone thought they knew what you should be doing with your life? Would you like it if they tried to force you to live in a different way than you do? Of course you wouldn’t.
People have to be free.
But, there are also circumstances we try to control. We so often live our lives in fear. Fear has been one of my plaguing weaknesses all of my life. So, what I have done is try to live safe. I don’t risk a whole lot and try to control my life in that way, try to protect myself from fear and from facing fear. But what that does is take a lot of joy from life. Thankfully, God has pushed me out of my comfort zone so many times that I have grown and lived in spite of my fears.
But, the best thing, the thing that relieves so much stress, is to remember to trust God and actively let him have control so that I know I am completely safe at all times. Corrie ten Boom, one of my heroes as you might remember, said “worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it only empties today of its strength.”
And, when you think of it, that’s exactly right. Worry does nothing good for anyone. It’s the opposite of faith. Think about this — you don’t know the future. What you worry about is either something that ends up making you feel silly for worrying over because it ends up being so trivial and unthreatening, or it’s something that you could never have changed by worrying about it. Worry is useless.
It’s amazing what a weight comes off of your shoulders when you release all worry to God. It’s wonderful to be able to remember that He is in control when all the world seems to be a chaotic mess.
That’s not to say we should never do things to try to make life better in the world, or for our friends or family. And, it’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever give advice. We need each other. I need advice and input from people I love and trust, and even from strangers sometimes.
Letting go doesn’t mean withdrawing. It means being free so that when you do engage with the world, you aren’t dragging along a weight of responsibility that isn’t yours to carry. It means you can truly be yourself and others can be themselves with you. It encourages honesty in relationships and lets you give other people room to let God work in their lives too. I’m not responsible for how they respond to life. I’m only responsible for myself – and even that I let go of to God so that he can help me control my impulses. That frees me too. It’s like breathing fresh air or drinking a nice long, cold glass of living water. It is SO refreshing. 🙂