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I Don’t Control Much, But I Do Control Me

So instead I find rest in knowing that I am in control of myself. That alone is responsibility but it is a responsibility that I am confident in. I will go about my life as a husband, a father, a friend, and a minster with the utmost integrity making the decisions that I believe are best. There will be mistakes, the Lord knows how many I’ve made to this point, but I can’t control those past mistakes anymore.

Can I tell you what you can control? I ask because what I’m about to tell you is both a shocker and makes such perfect sense that is so simple it’s almost frustrating. You can control you. That’s it. That’s all. I know it sounds crazy.

You want to know why I say this is so frustrating even though, to some who read this, that will make no sense and to some that will make perfect sense? Because I struggle with anxiety. Not the type of anxiety where I’m stressed or worried about something and telling me to “relax” makes me actually relax and feel better. No, I struggle with the type of anxiety that won’t allow my brain to stop. If I don’t have something to ruminate on, then my brain, somewhere deep in my subconscious crafts a narrative that, while not truth, is based in some sliver of truth. Because it is based in a sliver of truth it could happen in some universe somewhere. Usually it doesn’t happen in this one.

This isn’t my mind preparing for possible scenarios. I’m not game planning for a possible future event, I’m creating a world in which there are conversations that never happened and situations that never came about. Why? I honestly don’t know. By the time I realize where my mind is heading I’m already 12 minutes into a 20 minute drive and I’m two weeks into the future in this fictitious world. Even more, I’ve begun to respond to this fantasy land like it is truth. My responses are heightened like I just finished a stressful day. I had a wonderful day, but my mind won’t seem to accept that. My Fitbit tells me my heart rate is up, the moisture under my arms confirms as much. My uncharacteristic frustration at the person that turned without using their blinker proves that I’m aggravated. My near breakdown after seeing that the dogs got into the trash can again lets me know just how frayed and worn to the core I am at the moment. Emotionally I’m drained when I get home. I’ve had a good day but I don’t have anything left—-because of a drive. It wasn’t even the drive. It was where my head went on the drive.

I sit at home, frustrated with myself that my mind did that again. Frustrated with a situation that hasn’t even happened. Frustrated with this stupid anxiety that can’t seem to allow me to enjoy a day. My wife is wonderful and shows genuine compassion and understanding. I realize how lucky I am that I have a person in my life that isn’t coarse in response to where my mind goes. Instead she works to alleviate the stressors of my imagination.

When my stress and frustration are at their highest because all I can grasp is that one day this scenario will come true, I hold onto the fact that all I can control is myself. My actions, my responses, my words. I can’t control everyone else. I can’t even predict everyone else. I’m wrong on a daily basis about what I think people will or won’t do, what they will or won’t say, how they will or won’t respond. My continued failure of prediction removes control of all the factors out of my hands. I can’t control every situation because I can’t control all the factors. And that brings relief.

My continued failure of prediction removes control of all the factors out of my hands. I can’t control every situation because I can’t control all the factors. And that brings relief.

It seems odd that the idea that relief comes from NOT being in control, but think about this. If I could control all the factors that will go into my day today what would that look like. How many people’s thoughts and emotions would I need to control (manipulate?) to make sure that everything went exactly how I wanted. And on top of that, if I could manage all that, could I handle the responsibility of being the sole person in charge and in control of every outcome surrounding me? That’s stress on a level that I’ve never experienced. I think there are few people in the world that have ever experienced that type of power.

So instead I find rest in knowing that I am in control of myself. That alone is responsibility but it is a responsibility that I am confident in. I will go about my life as a husband, a father, a friend, and a minster with the utmost integrity making the decisions that I believe are best. There will be mistakes, the Lord knows how many I’ve made to this point, but I can’t control those past mistakes anymore. I can only learn from them. I’m not in control of Kyle 3 years ago and the decisions he made. I’m not in control of Kyle 3 years from now and the decisions he will make. No, I’m in control of myself at this time and this moment. The situations that are thrown at me are my responsibility to respond to in the manner that I have been raised to, been taught to, and feel led to respond.

So yes, I can only control myself. Thank goodness for that.

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