Control — it creeps into our day-to-day lives in ways we aren’t even fully aware of. It bleeds its way into our marriages, relationships, finances, diets, routines, holidays … if allowed, it can take over our entire lives. So often we cling to control like a child clings to their security blanket. We find our safety and security in the blanket of our own zealous control.
I’ll admit — I can be a control freak. Ever since I was a small girl, I liked things a particular way and even more so, I liked when life plans went my way. I can’t blame my home environment entirely for this fiery arrow of control in my life, but I do believe my environment as a child reinforced my natural tendency for control.
Growing up, I watched my father struggle with alcoholism. Our home environment was often times hostile and chaotic and being that much of it was out of my control, I began seeking control in almost every other area of my life — my health, my diet, my school work, my future plans, you name it — I tried to control it. It was calculated and precise, and it looked to the world like Meghan had it all together. But inside, I knew better. I was keenly aware of the raging worry and fear that ate away at me day after day, even as a young child. I’ve always been a worrier, and control and worry go hand in hand. If you find yourself incessantly worrying, take a step back and evaluate what it is you perhaps are trying to control.
Along with my need to control, I developed an unbridled fear that crippled me on a daily basis. I had this fear that something out there that was going to get me, hurt me, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. I felt helpless and out of control, fearing the worst was about to come. This fear manifested itself as anxiety, worry, stress, and panic attacks — all rooted in a desire for control.
A perfect example of this from my childhood is when my mother threw a surprise birthday party for me when I turned 10. It was on a Friday evening, and it entailed a sleepover with a few close girlfriends from school. I vividly remember this day like it happened yesterday. Not because of the fun that ensued, but because of the fear that almost ruined my own surprise party. You see, my mom never came to my aunt’s house that day after work to pick me up like she always had.
When 4 o’clock rolled around, I began to feel worried but didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until my aunt said she was going to take me home that I began to panic inside. I remained cool and collected on the outside, but on the inside, my own worst nightmare was unfolding before me. I couldn’t keep up with my racing horror thoughts that mom was in a car accident and died. I know, pretty dismal for a 10 year old. Never did the thought cross my mind that perhaps she was just late.
My aunt told me she had a last minute meeting come up and would meet me at home with my Dad, but the enemy snuck inside my head and convinced me otherwise. Upon arriving to my country cottage in the woods, I walked in the back door with my aunt and cousin and to my absolute surprise, there stood my mama and five of my closest friends. I cried. Actually I sobbed. And not tears of excitement and shock for my surprise party, but tears of overwhelming relief that my mama was in fact alive.
Much like my childhood, becoming a military spouse further emphasized my need for control. The uncertainty of the days ahead was exasperating. I wanted to know where we were going to be stationed next and when we were leaving and where we’d live and how my new kitchen would look and if we lived overseas someday, where I’d have my future babies … the questions, the worry, the control kept me from living the daily adventure that came along with being a milspouse and kept me from blooming where I was planted.
I can’t tell you how many arguments my husband and I got into during the first year of our marriage all revolving around both of our desires to control our future life plans. And you all know, being a military family, there isn’t much you can control. All the while, God was sitting on His throne saying, “My dear sweet children. Don’t quarrel and be at odds with one another. I’ve got this. Trust in me. Be at peace and love one another.” I saw the control control our marriage because we both struggled to surrender our plans to the Master Planner.
God knew I needed this lifestyle to refine me and sanctify me and pull me back to Him every single day. Because unlike much of the rest of the world, we milspouses have very little control over grounding decisions such as where we live and what job perhaps our spouses or we enter into. I learned very quickly that my plan was not only subject to God, but also to the entire Air Force, and they weren’t thinking about my grand plans or what worked best for Meghan Meredith’s timeline of family and career planning. We have very little control over our next duty stations, PCS timelines, deployments, TDYs and training schedules, education options for our children, or living close to family. When we are slaves to control we can’t fully be servants for God. And being a milspouse is a unique calling where we are gifted the opportunity to be light and salt to this community and a servant for the Kingdom.
Matthew 6:34 commands us, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow for tomorrow has enough worry of its own.” One of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to overcome is having my viewpoint of God radically shifted. In order to fully relinquish control, I first had to fully believe He is good and that He is the ultimate authority over my life. That sounds so elementary, but for much of my life I viewed God as good for everyone else around me but not me. In my deepest core, I didn’t believe God wanted what was best for me.
Growing up in a toxic environment like I had, my view of God was tightly woven into my view of my own father. I unknowingly was viewing God the Father through the same cracked lens as my earthly, broken, and flawed father. I didn’t think He wanted the best for me and therefore, I had to take matters into my own hands, just like I had done since I was a small child.
God holds our past, present, and future. He truly wants what is best for each one of His children, including you, friend. I know at times that can be hard to believe; trust me, I’ve been there myself. But we have the privilege and joy to walk behind an all-knowing Father who has our best interest at heart. We can release the unknown into the hands of an all-knowing God who deeply cares for us. By us not trusting God or surrendering full control to Him, not only does it dethrone Him, but it de-values who He is.
As Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” God goes before us to each duty station, deployment, and TDY. He is with us through all seasons of our ever changing and mobile lifestyle. He prepares a way for you and I at our next duty station before we even know where that is!
Even through all of life’s surprises, delights, confusion, and chaos, let’s be women who posture ourselves before the throne of God with humbled hearts and surrendered plans so that His will can be done in and though us. When the condition of our hearts is control, our worship becomes conditional. But when the posture of our hearts is surrender, our worship becomes sacred. May we walk out this unpredictable military life with hearts surrendered before the King who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I can walk in true freedom, not having to be in control. We get to surrender to Him and simply worship Him for who He is. And He is our good, good Father.
Meghan is a Certified Personal Trainer and a Certified Holistic Health/Wellness Coach. Meghan resides in the Los Angeles area with her Air Force husband and their almost-human pup, Nusu. Meghan loves inspiring women on how to become their best self and fully walk into the life God created them for. Meghan is an avid green tea drinker, loves driving around in her bright yellow Jeep, and will always choose sunflowers over roses. She has a heart for creating beauty around her, especially in her home. Meghan not only loves health, wellness, and fitness but she is also passionate about hospitality, food, and creating meaningful experiences for others in her home. Visit Meghan’s lifestyle wellness website www.homebodysoul.com where she blogs about all things home, body, and soul.
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