The cure for control

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Dear fearful one,

You came to my mind today while I was sipping my coffee, and I knew what I needed to say. Perhaps I knew for I have been where you are now.

The thing about living in fear is that it’s never content with a piece. It’s never content with anything less than devouring your peace. Piece by peace by piece, and then…

When you’re overwhelmed by the fear, you will turn to control. Control of your spouse, of your children. Of your world, and that’s torture. For you and for everyone else.

If there’s one thing a prodigal kid will teach you, it’s this–that you are not in control.  There’s any number of things that will teach you that lesson, but for me, that was one of the biggest. I remember the morning I awoke in my bed and Jesus, my Friend, He was speaking. “As long as you are down front, stirring around (in his life), you hinder My ability to fully work. Until you lay your Isaac down, this will never work.”

That was the start of Him breaking it down, and from then until now, I’ve been learning. I’d like to give you a shortcut here like someone else once gave me ’cause I see how you’re struggling. If something I’ve learned can help you, I’ll share it, so here we go.

I’ve learned that a strong need to control is often rooted in fear. You’re afraid of how your child will turn out, so you try to control every aspect of their lives. You’re afraid of the choices they’ll make, so you manipulate. Make more rules, shadow obsessively, and you hover. No policeman or FBI agent holds a candle to your investigative abilities. You must keep the infernal eye upon the subject to catch and contain (not to be confused with the infamous “catch and release” program).

You’re afraid of the future, so you plan, plan, plan, plan. You’re afraid of what your spouse is doing, or where his heart’s at, so you exert your control over him. You’re unsure of how others perceive you, and you’re frightened, so you hide your hurting heart, and you posture. You cover.

You’re afraid you’re not acceptable, not quite good enough, so you work and you work and you work. (I sure know this.) And you’re always and ever just–tired.

You don’t know that you really do have a Father; One Who’s bigger and wiser and stronger and truly loving. For if you knew that, and I mean knew it all the way through to your bones, you wouldn’t be living as though you don’t have one. Living like it all rested on you to make things turn out right. That’s how an orphan will live, and so maybe you don’t know you’re not that.


The damnable thing about controlling your world (including yourself) is that it never, ever works. It just doesn’t. Your children have choices. Your spouse, he does, too, and the future’s flat out of your hands. You feel helpless.

I know exactly how you feel, and there’s an answer.

It’s love.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the simplicity that’s found in Christ, and I’m starting to see how very hard most folks have made it (including myself). And I’m thinking a whole lot of us have been fooled. Taken in.

“Perfect love casts out fear.” That’s what His Word says. “He who fears is not made perfect in love.” It says that, too.

When a small child is secure in a parent’s love, what do you see? You see a happy, confident, carefree little person. One who can twirl and dance or charge and jump and dash ahead because they know that underneath are those loving arms. It’s no wonder Jesus said, “Unless you change and become like one of these, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”

When you know you are accepted, loved, adopted, and secure, your fear begins to abate. And with it, the need to control. Your nervous system calms down, your heart follows suit, and you have so much more room in your head for “life” things. It’s amazing.

Here’s the deal:  I cannot fully love a person I don’t trust. It’s true of humans and of God. I can’t fully trust someone I don’t love. It’s two wheels on the bike that you’re pedaling.

Love and trust.

I can tell you how much more I enjoy life now that I’ve stopped trying to control. I’m much happier, I live with such peace, and my relationships with my loved ones are better now that I’m not strangling them with my control. Control is the hands around the neck of Love, suffocating its object. Control creates distance. Love invites.

Today, I’m asking Him to do for you what He’s done for me. In mercy, may He break down all your tools of control and allow you to feel your help(less)ness (that’s a gift). Then, after that, to let you to see for yourself His true love and His grand parenting of you. That’s when you’ll be able to rest in peace and stop controlling.


Rhonda, the small, caffeinated American mom


  1. This is delicious, fragrant bone broth to my very soul. I can say amen to every word, from as much of this as I have experienced. I am most of all grateful that my Father is now trustworthy with my people. I never was strong enough to hold it all together, and when I let go, he was already holding me too. I needed this today.

    1. What a great perspective! It is the hard things that shake our hands loose, or so I have found. You are a marvelous example of a woman who has fought her way through to much freedom.

      God bless you, my friend.

  2. Thank you for this. God has convicted me strongly of my sin in this and how badly it hinders my relationships. Your account is a blessing to me. Thank you for mentoring through it.
    Also. I grew up close to Goshen.

    1. Hi, Monica! So glad this has been helpful to you.

      I have found that my sons are very quick to forgive me when I apologize and ask for their forgiveness. I’ll bet your children are, too.

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