Do you ever struggle with letting go of control? What is your response to not having control?
Our impromptu mini ski vacation over Christmas presented me with some reminders about the word and practice of “control”.
We were invited to join another family to go skiing for a few days. We had less than a week to plan, and we left the day after Christmas.
Both Husband and I skied a bit when we were younger. After leaving “home” we each, separately took a few trips in college, and a couple more after being married, but the last decade and a half have been mostly void of skiing. For us, I suppose it is like “riding a bike”–we were able to pick up where we left off, with a few conservative corrections on my part, testing out my newer ACL and such. But all was great.
The kids on the other hand…had no previous experiences to rely on……
Watching our kids learn to ski had moments that- for this mom- were utterly painful.
First, we made mistake one. After taking too long to get settled, we missed the first morning lesson and had to go for the 1pm. “Well, we paid for these expensive lift tickets”…we weren’t going to waste time, or money…not our style…so we decided– instead of taking the time to hike up an incline with 12, 10 and 8 year old beginning skiers– we would just take them up the chair lift on the ‘bunny slope.’ It wouldn’t be too hard….right??
We all dismounted the chair and got to the right side of the lift. And that is where we all stopped, for about…. well, 30 minutes, at least!
First, husband took our middle son. He had the one-to-one ratio, which seemed a good idea. I watched the struggle a little bit, but didn’t have much time to focus on those two, as my own ‘projects’ were stuck with me. I had the oldest and the youngest. Oldest is brave and a go-getter. She is exceptionally balanced and takes risks as part of her nature. She has done things at ages I still can’t believe (like zip line thousands of feet high, through the Costa Rican Rain Forest Canopy for more than a mile stretch at age 7), and her resilience led me to believe that this wouldn’t be bad.
Youngest, well he likes to “hit the ground running.” I think when he was just under one year old, he literally did start life running, instead of walking. He is also the youngest, so he likes to look at someone doing something (like ice skating recently) and just GO! This usually proves in a fail, and a fall, but he gets up and goes again.
Despite these strengths, our first run of skiing was either comical, or terrifying.
First, the steepest part of the bunny hill was the top.
Second, none of our children understood our “wedge” conversation. None of them could stop.
Third, the top of the slope was the most crowded, as everyone is getting off the chair, AND it is the most unpredictable slope since most everyone on that ski run are beginners.
Skip ahead 20 minutes. My plans have failed. Oldest daughter is forming tears. Youngest son is on the ground and his tears, anger and frustration surfaced 10 minutes ago. I had candy bribes in my pocket and my supply is already exhausted. I am out of ideas. Husband and middle son are making their way down, unlike my troop. I have stopped and actually prayed for new direction or language, or something…anything… several times. I am now praying for no broken bones. I am fully at a loss and have no control.
I have no control.
And let’s say, I didn’t become a better ski instructor under these circumstances. I will confess: I became worse.
Oldest, she decides she is just going to have a go with it. She starts slowly, in a tense, hunched stance, working her way across the hill. Some of my instructions on “traversing the hill” are helping slightly. She is actually moving. She has been patiently waiting upon my word for quite some time and it is time for her to just go for it. She is making progress.
Youngest and I are still stuck on the side of the mountain. Every time we decide we will try to move, some beginning screeches to a stop right near us, or youngest gets his skis crossed again. Honestly, my lack of control over his actions frightens me. I think my tension is making him increasingly tense. This, of course, is making things worse.
Then husband arrives at the top of the slope. Angelic music chimes in my mind…and I think he may have a halo over his head. I am so grateful. I tell husband, “It is time for a new voice.” My plans and words and ideas are not good ones, and I failed. Youngest agrees. Mom failed. I have to laugh, because it is true and I tell him so. Trust dad. He will get you down the hill. And I have to turn my gaze down the mountain….ski toward the oldest who is still working her way down, and not watch the youngest. I don’t want to see. I don’t want to cringe…I just want to let go of control, pass it over to dad, and celebrate the success at the bottom of the slope.
Let go of control.
And honestly, after that first run, the kids were champs. All three of them. We decided that ski lessons with professional instructors were worth the money (and it wasn’t cheap, haha) and worth the few ski runs we could enjoy God’s beautiful creation together. And the kids amazed us. After three days they loved skiing. After our first ski run, this felt like nothing short of a miracle. It was definitely an answer to prayer.
As they got progressively better, they took more risks. They each increased their speed. For this woman, turned mother, it is both wonderful and difficult to watch. Something changed when I bore children into this world. I feel like I have become a somewhat cautious wimp. I want to let go of control and let them soar. But I so want to make sure they are safe, unharmed, and warm and happy, too. And every muscle in my body just tenses at times, and I just have to close my eyes. In fact, even after riding chairlift after chairlift, I insist that they bar is brought down for safety every lift ride, and I just can’t help but put my hand over their lap, or hold their jackets.
Letting go of control over life, over others….giving up control is such a difficult process.
And I realize that much of what I struggle with is in an effort to hold onto control of my own life. My own plans.
I am nervous with my husband driving…because I am not in control.
I’m frustrated when plans change…because I have lost control.
I cringe when my kids ride their bikes fast down a winding hill…because their decisions on when to turn or brake are out of my control.
There is something in the loss of control or the holding on so tightly to my own plans and my expectations, that reminds me of how much I still hold on to my own way and how uncomfortable it is to let go. And it reminds me of how grateful I am for a heavenly father who LET’s me…URGES me… ASKS me to let go. A Heavenly Father that says ‘Trust Me all who are weary and burdened’, ‘lay down your burdens and give them to me’, ‘take my yoke upon you, for my burden is light’. (Matthew 11v28-30)
You see….it is never easy to let go of control. But control equals my own plans, and my own plans mean my own way, and my own way equals independence. We consider Independence as a wonderful quality, particularly in this country, but independence means on our own. And that includes on our own away from God.
I remind myself of how much I WANT to let go and give my plans–well intentioned or not…my way, and my burdens ALL to God. That I actually have God in my life calling me to give it all over. Live each day for Him, with Him and by His plan. Let Him mold me, and make me into who HE wants me to be. That is actually so very, VERY freeing!
I was driving in to work this morning, after having drafted this blog post and was thinking and praying on giving up control and I heard Tenth Avenue North’s song “Let it go…” Another personal reminder of the reality of grasping for control (so much that our “knuckles have gone white”), and the beauty of letting it go and giving it to God (“life is waiting for the ones who lose control”).
Take a listen and join me in letting go….
Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? Romans 9:21
Surrender yourself to the LORD, and wait patiently for him. Do not be preoccupied with [an evildoer] who succeeds in his way when he carries out his schemes. Let go of anger, and leave rage behind. Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil. Evildoers will be cut off [from their inheritance], but those who wait with hope for the LORD will inherit the land. Psalm 37v7-9