How Do I Give Up Control?

My teenage son is going on a weekend trip. He waits till the last minute to pack his duffel bag. I follow him out the front door with my mental checklist.

“Did you pack extra socks? You want to keep your feet warm.”

“One pair should be enough.”

“Did you pack sunscreen?”

“Someone else should have some.”

“Do you have a flashlight?”

No answer.

I’d say my voice is going in his one ear and out the other, but there’s an ear bud inserted into his right ear.

Dad’s voice, “Leave him alone. He’ll be fine.”

“What if he forgets something he needs?”

“Then he’ll remember it next time.”

They drive away, leaving an exasperated mother. “I wonder if he packed a tooth brush.”

My daughter says I’d make a great administrative assistant. Even when I leave home, I type out detailed instructions.

“Water the plants on these days. Don’t forget to take out garbage. In case of emergency, call….blah, blah, blah.”

Okay, so I micro manage.  I’m being real here. But how do I give up control?

Do I allow my child to learn from his mistakes and suffer the consequences when I can prevent many what ifs from happening?

Or can I?

Through no fault of her own, my friend was in a serious car accident. Her daily routine and future plans came to an abrupt halt. While she recuperates, I cringe. What if that happened to me?

Ruled by the tyranny of the urgent, I don’t have time to pause in mid-sentence and wait for life to resume.

Or do I?

Sixteen years ago, I gave birth to my son a week before Christmas. He was three weeks ahead of schedule. Unable to breathe on his own, he was hooked to a ventilator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

I had no control.

Instead of running nonstop to prepare for the holidays, I spent two weeks being still in a dim hospital room with my newborn infant. Baking cookies, mailing Christmas cards, and a dozen other holiday traditions didn’t happen that year. However,

When I loosened my grip on everything I thought was important

Surrendered my expectations

Kept my mind fixed on the Sovereign God

Trusted Him regardless of the outcome

“He kept me in perfect peace.” Isaiah 26:3

He still does ….

When I give up my need for control, and sit still in His presence.

Author: Karen Foster

I'd like to say I've changed, but after decades of living, I still have the same four passions. My relationship with Jesus, spending time with family, attending live theater, and writing devotions & first-person stories about a loving, faithful God who reveals Himself in our every day circumstances.

11 thoughts on “How Do I Give Up Control?”

  1. Have you been living in my body? Exactly what I’ve been struggling with with my adult children who are making decisions in which they’ll have sorrowful consequences and ..already have! I CAN HELP THEM AVOID THAT PAIN!! Or…I’ll just have to spend more time on my knees and know that the Sovereign Lord loves them more than I do and already has a plan for them that I have no idea about and can do just fine without my running interference.! But, I feel almost guilty if I don’t try to help..is it really okay to pray, pray and pray some more!!?? I think that’s the key..acknowledging that I’m not God and He is..Gee, what a novel idea!! 🙂

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    1. Appreciate your comment. After being a mom for almost 28 years, I don’t know how to keep my hands off. I let go and pray for them and then fall right back into running interference. It’s what I know. When I do step back …they rise to the occasion, and roll with the punches.

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  2. I never thought much about having “control” issues, til I read this. I am so guilty! Maybe its just part of being a mother, but I have had those exact conversations with my children, even older than yours! My husband has also pointed out to me that they will be fine. It was a rude awakening when you realize they really DON’T need you, or want you running down your list (even though we know its for their own good). Oh Karen, we are definitely two peas in a pod. And even more, we are 2 sisters in Christ who continue to bow before His throne, seeking His grace and daily transformation. I love my Lord 🙂

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    1. Our children really don’t want us managing their lives. They rise to the challenge more times than not. A hands on, hovering mom is not reflecting confidence in her kids. Or major trust issues that God will use their circumstances to teach them, and draw them closer to Himself.

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  3. Love this, Karen. I don’t know how many times we’ve had that exact same conversation at out house, husband and all. Teenage boys provide such a great opportunity to learn how not to worry!

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      1. Haha, if I know teenage boys they don’t think they need to trust anyone because they think they’re invincible! Here’s my son’s line: Mom, I haven’t ever gotten killed doing that before – the implication being if it hasn’t happened before then of course it won’t happen this time!

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        1. Yes, Barb, which is why their insurance rates are higher. Also I’d feel safer about my children..grown ones too..if I didnt watch the news. That’s why I have to capture thoughts and return to God’s word. There’s a Casting Crowns song about the future and God is already there waiting on the other side.

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      2. Yes, I can see why their insurance rates are so high! The two things that have helped me most with worry are praying with thanksgiving and being willing to accept the fact that my worry might actually happen. When I spend some time thanking God for who He is in the midst of my worrisome situation, I feel myself beginning to trust Him even if things don’t turn out the way i want them to turn out. I’m still paranoid – in other words, I think there is a good chance something bad will happen – but i don’t worry that much anymore. Which is a good thing now that I have three kids out of the nest!

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