The Year I Stopped Trying to Control People

2016 will go down as the year I stopped trying to control people.

Not that I was successfully controlling them before. But I tried. Wow, did I try. My soul still has some scars that prove it — on their way to healed, but still visible if you look hard enough.

I think my heart dives a little deeper into things than most. Whatever I’m feeling at the moment, I feel it hard. And that used to lead to stacking stones in the river, trying to redirect everyone’s current to flow the way I thought was best. It was selfish. And it was pointless. And I was tired.

This year has been one long lesson in learning to float down the river instead of kicking against the current. Some days, it feels refreshing and relaxing and easy as pie. Other days, I cut myself on the stones beneath me and feel the sun scorching me as I lie there. But that’s what we are all doing, so I will no longer spend my energy paddling needlessly upstream. I’m relenting to the current. And it looks like a thousand different painful, beautiful moments.

It looks like refusing to embellish the story or swing the situation ever so slightly in my favor. It looks like crying and hurting, but still choosing to wait well when a soul-deep dream just hasn’t come true. It looks like laying my pointed words down in frustrating situations, because fighting useless battles just leaves hearts cut & opposing sides highlighted. It looks like keeping my mouth shut when I see a “better way” for someone else to live their life — even more than that, it means having the humility to know that my way is not always better.

What will be, will be. And my heart is learning to rest in that — in the knowing that I was never really controlling things at all. Someone infinitely wiser than me is in control. The more I lie back & watch Him work, the more grateful I become. He’s ruling the universe. He’s steering the current. And He’s a much better navigator than I could ever be.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
— Proverbs 16:9

I can’t control things. But what can I do? I can care deeply for people while we float downstream together. I can extend kindness to those ones I feel deserve it least. I can show love in the face of hurt. I can choose to live in the current of grace & peace instead of stress & anxiety. I can stop trying to bend the world with my mind and I can just LIVE.

Honestly? Sometimes, it still hurts. But it’s the growing kind of hurt, not the fighting kind. And that’s who I want to be. I want to let the water wash over me & wash off the last shreds of control I’ve been holding on to. I want to let every painful moment — and every beautiful one — grow me into a soul that looks more like Jesus & a heart that’s relented to the current of grace.