I have spent the past two days sitting in a conference room downloading A LOT of information to my brain. The church I work for here in Orlando held a two-day workshop to address the needs of the church as well as the staff. I enjoyed being with our entire team, as well as some very good belly laughs along the way, but sitting for long periods of time while information is disseminated makes my brain fry. I am a visual/experiential learner, so a classroom-type setting requires a lot of energy, attention, and focus for me to tune in.
I took a lot away from these two days, though, and I am sure that I will glean even more as I have time to process it all. In the midst of all the wisdom that was imparted (not to mention learning that our lead pastor hunts python snakes once a year in The Everglades), there was one sentence I heard loud and clear: “Be sure you don’t own something you can’t control.”
One of the leaders responded to my question with this statement and everything else around me just became unimportant. We had come to a point in the day where not much was making sense to me, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around the current concept. I was reverting to a Type A mentality, and just wanted someone to give me clearcut, black and white instructions. It became very clear that I was going to receive what I wanted, but I received so much more than that in a very brief statement.
In a room full of brilliant and creative people, ideas were flying like crazy and while all of the ideas were good and productive, there was no need for us to reinvent the wheel in our respective departments. We were being encouraged to embrace what can be done well, and have the wisdom to “press pause” on ideas or projects that may need more time to simmer.
When Bob said, “Be sure you don’t own something you can’t control”, I knew exactly what he meant. I have spent my entire life trying to take ownership of all of the things I have no control over – specifically other people. In fact, when he delivered this statement, I leaned towards a friend and said, “But that is pretty much my life theme!”
Ugh, that was a nasty pill to swallow. I have spent so many precious moments, hours, days, weeks, months, and even YEARS attempting to control everything outside of my realm of influence. This includes other people’s feelings, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It also includes the weather, life plans and trajectories, inanimate objects, animals, traffic patterns, and natural disasters. I could add at least a decade to my life with all of the time I have wasted trying to control, or take ownership of, what isn’t mine to own.
I have come a long way in my healing process, but I still revert to control tactics when I am tired, stressed, angry, or overwhelmed. Each day we wake up presents a new set of challenges, and new opportunities to either trust or control. Well, the illusion of control at least.
It is becoming easier and easier to trust that life will be lived, and lived out well, when I don’t manipulate my surroundings. Lord knows my manipulation has never helped anything in the past. But I think this is one sentence I want painted on my walls and in my car and everywhere I can see it. I don’t want to waste anymore precious time on stuff that just ain’t mine.