Worshiping Control and Holding on to Fear

All my life I have sought to control how I live. In my teenage years I placed a high value on control, especially self-control. I told myself that even though so many others were indulging in alcohol and drugs during the eighties I could not because I would be lacking self-control. I became so enamored with control I sought it every aspect of my life, including my professional and personal relationships. I believed that if I managed my reactions and level of commitment in those relationships they surely would never fail. This control extended into my Christian life, I committed myself to reading my bible, attending worship, participating in community service, and prayer.

I really thought I had everything under control.

Sure I lost friends and co-workers along the way but I believed it was because we grew apart or we differed on how to best handle situations and not because I felt compelled to micromanage every detail along the way.

I am sure you are shaking your head, saying oh there is going to be a rude awakening here...I can see that a mile away. And you would be right.

My rude awakening came in a serene conference room with four words, “We found cancer cells.” All of the sudden the world seemed to narrow to the tabletop, the voices around me became muffled, the word cancer echoed on and on in my head, my chest felt tight and my heart was pounding. My very soul felt a deep wrenching pain and curled into a tight ball. Then the words came, one of my favorite bible verses, Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Tightness loosened and my soul uncurled. I listened and I took notes. I went home and told my loved ones.

All the while I chanted, " Be still and know that I am God." 

A few weeks later I dreamed I was sitting across from God and he said to me are you ready to not only to listen but to hear me? I woke up and in those dark wee hours of the morning I began to understand. All those years of spent living in praise and worship of control I was really living in fear. Fear of the unknown: if I would be liked and loved, would I be respected, would I fail or succeed, would I do something stupid or embarrassing, and would I really live. So much fear and I carried it all, selfishly guarding it and allowing it to poison so many relationships. Never putting fear down, never letting it go, and never learning from my mistakes, so many failed relationships because I worshiped control and allowed fear to hold me tight.

The worst of it was in holding tight to my fear I did not let God fully into my heart and soul. I was so intent on managing my life that I was keeping God safely at an arm's length away.

Oh, how God fought me and for me. He let me fall flat on my face with failed relationship after failed relationship. He allowed me to continue to exercise my freewill against the predetermined path He had for my spiritual wellbeing. And finally I was brought up short by something I could not control, the fear was bigger than any box and the only way opened to me was God.

This time around I was on my knees, suffocating from fear, calling out to God to ease this burden. This time around it was asking God to use the fear as fire to forge strength and courage in me. This time around it was thanking God for walking with me as I faced the uncertain future. This time around it was thanking God for guiding the hands and minds of the medical team to find the best solution for my cancer. This time around it was about having faith in God’s infinite grace and abiding love to see me through to whatever would be His will and not my own.

This time around it was about being still and knowing God. This time around was about a second chance ... and it would be different.

Submitted by Erin Johnson, Midtown Parish Member