Do you ever feel utterly frustrated and upset when things fail to go the way you desired them to?
If you answer “no” to that question, then consider yourself lucky among many people.
It’s a part of human nature: we get horribly bothered when things we plan fail.
We get anxious. We get irritated. We lose motivation. We get super lazy. So, instead of developing another plan, we begin to see no point in trying.
Then we do what we should never do; we give up.
This is what I like to call, Control Freak Syndrome or more simply known as CFS.
CFS is a disorder where you long to control everything around you, on your own and by your own standards. You take control of every situation and when things do not go the way you planned, you get super irritated.
I believe strongly that all of us have a percentage of Control Freak Syndrome in us, whether it be small or large.
What’s the issue with this, though?
Why is being a control freak such an issue?
And for that matter, how does it affect our everyday walk with God?
For one, we fail to realize that we don’t run this show and quite frankly, we aren’t the lead role in it. God is and we simply cannot try to assume this role when it is not assigned to us to begin with. We aren’t the lead role; we aren’t the decision maker; we aren’t the plan creator. We are not in charge here and I have learned this lesson the hard way throughout my senior year. I thought I was destined to attend Appalachian State in the fall of 2017. I felt like that was where I belonged and where God needed me to be for the next season of my life; I was dead set on being a Mountaineer and being nestled in the mountains of Boone, North Carolina for this new season, but God had something else entirely planned for me.
My acceptance to Berry College was my first and the least expected. When I received it, I was sitting in my room on the verge of tears because I was feeling horribly directionless and I could not understand why God had led me to feel this way. I heard some rumbling around downstairs, the usual noises made when my mother gets home from work. Then she yells, “get down here, Cassidy!” I swallowed the lump in my throat and wiped away the tears; finally, I gained the courage to walk downstairs and when she handed it to me, I was shocked.
Berry had always my backup plan.
When I held that acceptance, I was flattered, but I knew that I would soon be in Boone.
I laugh now thinking about it, because I was suffering from major CFS.
I thought I knew what God wanted, but I imagine him sitting up there laughing at me and thinking, “you have no idea what is in store for you, my daughter.”
And it’s true. I didn’t.
When God exposed to me that He was calling me to attend Berry, I was really uncertain. I had my heart set on Appalachian State and to accept anything else felt like a death sentence (and no I am not exaggerating when I say that). I felt like giving up. I felt like I had no idea what was happening in my life and this is because I lacked trust and faith in what the Lord had planned for me.
This constant longing to be center stage 24/7 is a waste of time.
I want you to think for a second about all of the times you have gotten beyond frustrated because your CFS took over, then created even more problems than you began with. Think of all the times you have grown irritated at God because something did not go your way. Can you think of them? I know I can.
And now, I want you to think about how much energy you spent on those fruitless pursuits.
Isn’t this constant control tiring to you physically and emotionally?
Don’t you get so tired of attempting to be in charge of every little thing all of the time? And what’s the point of us holding on the reigns so much when we are not even in charge anyways?
We lack trust in the Lord. It’s that simple.
In times where a great job opportunity comes up, a big exam is on the calendar, we need to make that deadline, or get a pay raise, we tend to let no one else control that situation besides us. We leave out the King of the World from our big endeavor, because we think we have it under control; we think we do not need anyone else’s help, when the truth is that we do. But when did we become so powerful that we are able to leave the Author of the Universe out of the entire picture?
Never! We have never been this powerful and we never will be.
Attempting to be in control of everything in our lives is fruitless and pointless, because God is already there. He already knows. He has already written The Plan and He already knows what you will be doing tomorrow or five weeks from tomorrow.
Jeremiah says it beautifully:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Does the Lord say, “alright. I don’t know what I am doing, so let’s just wing it. Ahh, here we are… I’ll give the worst plans possible to this person cause I could care less.”?
No! Never, ever, ever.
He considers our best interests in love, an unconditional love. He knows what is best for us; He knows our hearts, souls, and minds. He knows the desires of our hearts before we even ask. He has designed plans that will give us hope and a future! Not plans to discourage us, drain us, and leave us directionless.
It’s loaded in scripture that God has a plan and yes, it’s cliche and I bet by now you’re like, “if I hear one more Christian tell me that God has a plan for my life I am going to lose it.” However, it doesn’t make it any less true. Hate it all you want, but God still has a plan for your entire life and He still knows what’s best for you.
In truth, I find so much comfort in this and I find reality in it as well.
Each time I read this verse, I come closer and closer to realizing that I don’t have to be in control all the time; I realize that I am not in center stage and I do not run the show. It feels good to be reminded of this because it lessens and lessens the need I feel to exercise control in every situation or confrontation I am faced with.
So, I want to encourage you all to remember the truth that Jeremiah speaks about. I encourage all of you to lean into it deeply and remember that the Lord is sovereign. I also want to encourage all of you to remember that aiming to be in control 24/7 is damaging to our faith because we lose trust in the Lord.
Last week one of my favorite teachers at North Forsyth and one of my life mentors allowed me to read the letter of recommendation she wrote for me to send to Berry. What she said is something I will never forget. Mrs. Aponte said I taught her that “if Plan A doesn’t work, there are plenty of other letters in the alphabet.” She said that I showed her what a true student looks like: always persevering, always striving, and never giving up.
We have to remember that when Plan A doesn’t work, that God hasn’t left us behind. We have to remember that He is working in our hearts even when we feel as though He is absent. We have to remember to trust Him and remember to not give up. We have to keep trusting, keep believing, and keep pressing on.
To help remind you to keep searching through the alphabet for a plan that finally is the one God desires for you, here are six steps you can begin to take.
Surrender your worries to God. In prayer, by journaling, by singing songs, or by just sitting in silence, find a way that works best for you so that you may surrender all of your fears, anxieties, and worries to God. In doing this, you take the first step. You take a step in saying to God, “hey. I really cannot do this on my own. Can you join with me and help me fight the day to day battles?” By doing this, you are escaping your self-glorifying bubble and confessing that it isn’t possible to do it alone; you are surrendering to Him and asking that His will be done in your life.
Trust that He knows what He’s doing and that He will keep on doing it. After you have surrendered to God, leave it surrendered. Don’t go back and fret on it over and over again. Leave it where you left it… at the bottom of the cross and trust that God is going to work the situation out according to His plan.
Feel the freedom in trusting him and watch as he breaks the chains that once tied you down. Once you surrender and trust, you can live in freedom. You are free from the things that once weighed you down, because you are at peace. Peace is freedom; peace is the ability to navigate the obstacles with confidence and trust in the Lord’s abilities. Feel the peace associated with surrendering and know that it is going to be okay.
Believe that he’s working on you and your heart. Don’t just say that He is working inside of you! You should believe it. Even when it is difficult to feel the Lord and even when you are spiritually congested, he is working inside of you. He is preparing you for all that is in store for your life according to his plan.
Watch as he changes you and reveals new plans. I know that seasons of waiting are practically the worst things in the world. Those seasons when you feel so directionless and you are frustrated with God for being so silent; however, those periods are amazing times to wait for growth and then begin to notice the growth as it occurs. Watch as God changes your heart and allows you to find joy with what He has planned. As he reveals new plans to you, find things to be excited about, and thank God for allowing you to be a part of His plan.
Receive the benefits and newfound wonderful plan He has for your life. It’s a plan to prosper you and give you hope. That’s the final piece of it. It’s a celebration. It’s something to be joyful about, no doubt. At this place, find ways to help those around you that may be struggling to surrender to God. And find ways yourself to continue receiving this plan in a way that still glorifies God.
When you find yourself back at the place when it is time to surrender again, surrender. It’s a cycle, you know. And no one said that it was a bad thing to return to surrender once more.
What we must remember is this: the Lord hasn’t given up on us when Plan A doesn’t work. So, we must not give in either; we must not give up.
And who knows?
Maybe the 25th letter is the best plan in God’s eyes.
In faith, we get to feeling stuck in the rut, feeling distant, feeling as though God is stagnant or absent, and being unsure of what to do next. This obvious silence and distance is often what turns people from Jesus, but we must persevere and remember that we live on God’s timing in God’s world.
Encouragement is a hard thing to tackle, but what if there was a way to break it down? Encouragement just becomes simpler when looked at through the lenses of faith.