There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “Your will be done.” C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew
Bit by bit, ‘control’ is being wrenched from my cold, stiff fingers.
For years, I figured taking the lead was a necessary evil, especially if someone else (i.e. spouse or adult kids or people I considered irresponsible in general) dropped the ball. My goodness, if a ball is dropped, shouldn’t I pick it up and run with it?
There’s a line. I haven’t been able to decipher it very well, or sometimes at all . . . but God’s been trying to get into my thick head where that line is. It’s a moving target, let me tell you.
For instance, where is the line between teaching my (grown) kids what to do and trying to control them?
Where is the line when a spouse attempts something I know in my heart will fail? Do I take control of the situation? (Not unless I want World War III to erupt, just sayin’.)
What gives me the right to think I know so much better than everyone else, anyway?
And that’s the point. I don’t.
I don’t know when God has his hands on someone else and He might allow a failure to teach them something. If I intervene, well, guess what? I slow down that process. I become a stumbling block.
When one of my grown kids has the temerity of soul to share a goal with their opinionated and strong-willed mom, do I criticize in a good-hearted but wrong-headed attempt to correct, or is it my selfish need to prove that I know better than they do?
Often I don’t. And that’s the point.
At this stage, my kids need less parenting and more friending. A few suggestions here and there, but more ‘attaboys’ and ‘way to go’s’ than exacting directives. Unless they ask, and then, of course, I’m a wellspring of knowledge.
Recently I had a situation with one of my kids that kind of punched me in the face. He thought I meant no, when really, I meant ‘let me teach you’. He thought I was controlling him, when I thought I was helping. He thought he was being independent and strong, and I thought he was, at the very least, being rude.
A Mexican standoff.
And guess what? He won. I scored a few points, but at what cost? It is futile to try to control another person, and perhaps I was.
As mentioned before, the line is a moving target. There are times a kid needs direction. Not control, direction. The line gets blurry. That’s when prayer helps point me in the right direction. And the right direction in this situation was to back off.
I can’t prevent someone else’s pain. I can’t prevent someone else’s failure. I can’t prevent someone else’s drive to accomplish whatever it is, even if I see them falling off a cliff. I can try to prevent it, but, again, I don’t know the whole story. God may have other plans and often I just need to get out of the way.
Extend grace and generosity.
Be available if they need help, but don’t assume they need it if they don’t ask.
And finally, the point of all points: God has control of EVERY situation and I don’t.