Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Mom: Resisting the Temptation to Control

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)

“I gave in, and admitted that God was God.” C. S. Lewis

 

  • Today, the invitation from the Holy Spirit is to come to Him in humility and lean on His ultimate provision and control of your life and that of your children. His plans, ways, and wisdom are perfectly accomplishing His plans for you. Choose to trust Him.
  • Open your Bible and read about God’s wisdom in James 3:17 and 1 Corinthians 1:25. What do these verses tell you about why God’s perspective is greater than yours today?

We are prone to worry, prone to place the wrong value on things, and prone to have little faith. We are also prone to worship an idol in this human condition. This idol is tantalizing because it gives us a false sense of security—and we take the bait. We take control. Control becomes our idol. I’m not talking about merely taking control of our own lives; we also long to manage and control the lives of those around us.

We look around and it seems that everyone else is somehow doing this life thing better than us or has more than we do. We desire to have more control to ensure that we will not come up short in the end.

Dennis DeYoung, lead vocalist for the band Styx, called it all a “grand illusion,” and penned these words decades ago:

So if you think your life is complete confusion, because your neighbor’s got it made, just remember that it’s a grand illusion, and deep inside we’re all the same. We made the grade and still we wonder who we are.

If we are honest, these words unveil the reality deep inside each of our hearts. We don’t like feeling vulnerable, needy, or left wanting. We don’t like our kids being bullied, hurt, or not succeeding in the ways we’d hoped. We see our brokenness and the brokenness of others around us. All the while, we are seduced into believing that life is somehow better or more abundant for the other mom.

In the moment we believe that lie, we choose to not serve our Master and live in His kingdom, but to serve another—the master inside ourselves.

Be careful. This master promises refuge, but gives bondage instead. Control—let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be in charge of his or her life? This condition of longing for control can have other faces too: self-medicating, escaping, eating disorders, and “guilting” others. We do these things because if power, force, and persuasion don’t achieve what we want, we find ways to cope in the meantime. And even these issues can become our way of manipulating others into giving us what we want.

Ouch.

Being honest about ourselves and our motives hurts. But it is an important part of becoming a spiritually healthy mom. We have to get real and call out even the hidden parts of our “acceptable dysfunctions.” I don’t normally think of myself as a control freak, but there have been times I have had serious doubts about this. As a mom raising my kids, I can remember those times of feeling the temptation to control things around me. Life gets chaotic. Crazy, busy, expensive—and we drop into bed only to get up and do it all over again. And again. Someone once said that in raising children, “The days are long, but the years are short.” It’s this brevity that causes us to clamp down and take
control. The micromanaging mom succumbs to the false sense of security that if she deals with her fears and uncertainty by holding on tighter, everything will be okay.

In my book Spiritual Parenting, I tell a story about my daughter and me having an epic battle of wills one day. She was four. As the argument ensued, she announced that she didn’t have to obey me because I was only “third in charge.” She told me that first God was in charge, then Daddy, then me. In that moment, although I felt like a failure as a mother, I had a sense of relief, knowing that indeed I was not “first in charge.” It wasn’t about me parenting perfectly or controlling the behavior or situations of my daughter’s life. Instead, that “aha” moment began my journey of discovering how I could come alongside what God was doing in the life of my children, release control, and work with Him to accomplish His plans.

Recognizing God as the one who is ultimately in control of our lives doesn’t mean that we do nothing. God is entrusting our children’s lives to us as parents. He is asking us to take care of them in an imperfect world. We seldom know all we should or should not do in any given situation, and this is why we need to be in constant and personal communication with God: so that we can receive His wisdom.

James tells us, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). And Paul shares, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

One of the best ways to be a good parent to our children is to be a faithful son or daughter to our heavenly Father (because we can’t give away something we don’t have). If we are to give away wisdom, encouragement, strength, and forgiveness to our children, we need to be receiving those things from God as well.

Blessings and Love,

Dr. Michelle Anthony

Questions to Ponder

  • What if you started today—declaring God as first in charge? In your life and in the lives of your family members, friends, and colleagues? What if you said no to being a micromanaging mom and the stress that comes with it, and chose to run straight to God for perspective, comfort, and wisdom? What do you truly think would happen?
  • What is an area of your life that would look radically different today if you were to do the above three things? Discuss this issue in prayer with your heavenly Father. Perhaps begin your prayer with these declarations: I am not in control—God, You are. I am not now, nor ever will I be, first in charge. God, You are and always will be.

Faith-Filled Ideas

Here are some ideas that helped me, as a young mom, turn the routine duties of parenting into a life that had a more spiritual perspective:

  1. Determine to worry less and pray more.
  • Recognize that worry is an energy zapper!
  • Set aside time each day for a few minutes of quiet reflection in God’s Word and time in prayer.
  • When a difficult situation arises, ask God’s Holy Spirit for wisdom and strength before acting.
  • Write out prayers or verses and place them around your home for encouragement.
  • Pray with and for your child.

2. Create a chalkboard or other artistic place that states, “God is First in Charge”.

  • Reading this every day will remind you that you are not ultimately in charge.
  • As you discuss what this means to your children, you are teaching them who to ultimately look to when life is confusing or difficult.

3. When you begin to feel the stress of trying to be in control, stop and meditate on Scripture.

  • Have a few verses that remind you of your need for God readily available.
  • Memorize a passage of Scripture.
  • Play soothing music or a favorite worship song while taking deep breaths. As you breathe in, pray these words to God, “Take control”. As you breathe out, say, “I am Yours.”

Start putting these things into practice today! At any point during the day, you may still feel the temptation to control your environment or family members, but as soon as you recognize it, be ready to release it.

Michelle Anthony

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