What’s Really Going on Behind My Grasping for Control

Life was feeling chaotic. 

I couldn’t keep track of all the moving pieces. There were people I love who didn’t know the Lord. There were life-altering decisions to be made. There were challenges to navigate at work. 

I had also over-committed in some ways. I filled my calendar as if I were an extravert (I’m not). And that can only go on for so long before I snap. 

It was that too-full schedule that finally brought me to my breaking point. And in that breaking point, I was painfully aware of my lack of control. 

  • The people I love who don’t know the Lord? I can’t choose salvation on their behalf. 
  • The life-altering decisions to be made? I can’t know every future consequence of the decisions I make today. 
  • The challenges to navigate at work? I can’t turn every environment into my idea of the perfectly ordered workflow. 
  • The internal limitations that force me to recharge in solitude? Despite my preferences, those limitations are here to stay. 

My lack of control seemed to be the crux of my stress… 

…until I was reminded, maybe that control is not mine to hold

* * * * *

My pastor once encouraged our church to consider the incommunicable attributes of God. 

What are God’s incommunicable attributes? These are the attributes of God’s character that are meant for him alone. God is infinite, sovereign, transcendent, all-knowing, all-powerful, self-existent, etc. Humans are not. 

My pastor then continued, Pay attention to the incommunicable attribute that you most desire for yourself. Often, that will highlight a common pattern of sin in your life. 

Let’s think back to my longing for control. I never said that I wanted to be God. And yet, I wanted to secure other people’s salvation. I wanted to know the effects of today’s decisions twenty years from now. I wanted to change my own internal design so that I could exist with less limitations. 

Simply put, I grasped for sovereignty. 

I didn’t trust God to be sovereign. I wanted to take charge and fix the brokenness that surrounded me—as well as the brokenness inside of me. And yet, any time mankind grasps for the incommunicable attributes of God, it is sin. 

God is sovereign. I am not. So I wrestled with this idea: Can I trust his sovereignty? How would loosening my grasp on control change the way that I live? 

  • When I realize the lengths to which God will go to draw people back to a relationship with himself, and I realize that no anxiety on my part will ease a person’s path to salvation, I can walk in obedience as a light for Jesus, knowing that the outcome of their salvation literally cannot rest in my hands. God will always love my friends and family and the strangers three blocks away more than I ever could. 
  • When I trust that the Holy Spirit will guide my steps toward righteousness and away from sin (if I let him), I don’t need to make decisions out of anxiety or fear. 
  • When I recognize what the Lord has called me to in my work—to do everything with excellence as if working for him; NOT to force everyone else to meet my standards and preferences—then I can show up to work up each day knowing what I must do to honor the Lord and strive solely for that. 
  • When I acknowledge and live within my God-given limits—spending enough time alone, saying no to some things that could be added to my calendar—I am less overwhelmed. 

Previously, I didn’t consider “grasping for control” to be that serious of a sin. Yet I was not designed to be sovereign. And any time I attempt to take on any one of God’s incommunicable attributes, it hurts not only me (I will drown under that kind of pressure), but also those around me. 

Since this realization, I have confessed my sin and I know that I am forgiven. And I have been praying repeatedly that God would grow my trust in and dependence on him. I don’t have what it takes to order the universe. But that’s okay. The more I learn about the Lord, the more I am sure that he is not only sovereign, but he is good—and trustworthy. 

I can trust him to order the universe. 

* * * * *

It is good that God is sovereign. And it is good that I rest in his sovereign care. 

Samantha fell in love with the Bible's storyline of redemption as a 19-year-old college freshman. Now, she writes to help women deepen their faith and find hope through this story. She loves following winding mountain trails, curling up with a good book, and laughing so hard her face hurts. :)

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Comments (4)

  1. Beautiful reminder to all of us that God is the ONLY Sovereign One! As Psalm 139:1-6 says “He KNOWS us!” That is what I put my faith in❣️