What we can control. What we can’t control.

Do you realize that many of us don’t consider that there is a difference between the things we can control and the things we can’t control?n Many of us live as though we can control the lives of others. The messages we hear are “you can make a difference” and “believe in yourself.” These all imply that we can control our destiny. We try to control people around us. If they would just follow our guidance, our directives. We worry what people think of us. In essence we lie in that we don’t really share our true selves. We share the self we want you to know. Another form of control, rather than “letting” people think what they want to think. We can’t be our real selves this way. We may be consciously or unconsciously do this. Impression management. This is what we call it in addiction recovery.

An unrecovered addict/codependent is someone who tries hard to change all the things that they cannot changes, and the things that are in their control, they are too afraid to look at and deal with. This is the opposite of the Serenity Prayer which goes:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the thing I cannot change,  the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

How many of us worry?  We worry because we think that it helps the situation.  We do this because we think that worry will some how better the situation and affect it for good.   If we in our hearts believe this, we can’t let go of the situation out of fear that it will fall apart.  Sometimes we feel responsibile and we blame ourselves for the bad situation.  Maybe we worry about our finances.  We say unconsciously, “I must pay for this.” (no pun intended)  I didn’t budget well, I made poor investments, I did track expenditures.  This may be so and we can learn from this.  But then, why worry?   We worry, “will the check come in time?”  This is a form of control that is going to “make” the check come quicker?

Instead, we could surrender the situation to God.  We could say in humility, “Look, I have totally screwed up here.”  “and the worst is that I have done this before, Lord God.”  ” But in your lovingkindness towards me, please forgive me, please teach me how to live.”  “Help me get rid of sloth or procrastination.”  “Help me not worry as you have said, ‘be anxious for nothing, but cast your cares upon the Lord, for he cares for you.'”  (1st Peter 5:7)

We try to control the past by not accepting what has happened or what we have done.  Instead, we cover the past, try to slice and dice it to make it palatable.  We regret, rather than repent.  We could use our past to change how we live today.  No matter how “good” we get, can we not still repent for the better?  Why not let go of the past (the things we cannot change) but have the courage, now to change for the better?  Perhaps it frightens us.  We can more easily deal with a crummy past that to walk boldly into the future not knowing what is going to happen.  Dealing with uncertainty.   Unfortunately, our life can become a syndicated re-run of old events.  This is how it is with addiction.  How many continue to use the substance or behavior, knowing full well that the outcome will be not good, but bad?  Do we stay with this, because we feel “in control?”  Yeah, right.  We think we are in control, but really we are not.  The addiction is. 

Recovery on the other hand is quite paradoxically different.  As we walk toward the future, “praying only for knowledge of God’s will and the power to carry it out” (Step 11) we can be certain of a few things. 

1.  We will be praying a prayer that God will answer.

2.  If we are praying this prayer consistently, we are letting go of control.  We are saying, “not my will, but Your will be done.”  This is the ultimate prayer.  This is what Jesus prayed when facing the cross and saved us all even though circumstances didn’t look so good.

3.  Only good things will happen to us then.  How can I say this?  Well, if I am wanting God’s will in my life, and praying for this consistently, then what happens, I must accept as God’s will.  Not our sins or the sins of the others.  This pressupposes that we are not living for ourselves and running our own life, but that we are letting Him be the “Higher Power.”  But we have to see that what is happening to me God has so allowed this for my good.  God only wants good for us and that doesn’t always feel like what we would term good. (our control)   But we can say that he has and always will answer a prayer involving His will, if we are truly desiring it for our lives.  So, we will be more bold in accepting this thing and not fighting it, or refusing to deal with it.  When this happens we do get peace.

4.  God’s ways are not our ways.  God sees things clearly, where we see things dimly. (1 Cor. 13)  We must be humble and realize this.  We live and act as if we see so clear.  But we really don’t.  This is the thing we must accept.  That we can’t see more clearly the past.  Hindsight is 20/20 they say.  But it really isn’t.  It is just clearer than the future, but it is not perfect vision.   How many distort the past?

So let us realize how little we know and  how little we see.  By this, we can ask God to help us and keep us on the past.  This will take trust on our part.  Trust is another part of  letting go of control.  Of course, trust is another topic for later.  

By God’s grace,

Erik Bohlin, M.A.

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