How Control Creates Fear

Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don’t.” ~ Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

A few weeks ago I told you about the conversation jar my son brought home from school, and told you I’d be asking and answering some of those questions here. So, without further ado:

This week I pulled a rather “easy” question from the conversation jar: Would you rather dive off a high cliff into the ocean or do a book report in front of 500 kids?

In my current, adult, know-it-all state, I would choose the book report without thinking twice. I’m a bookworm, and always have been. But as a kid?

There was one BIG problem with the book report choice—the 500 kids.

I’m a natural introvert and a registered geek…not that most folks would guess that now. If you look up the word nerd and the dictionary, you would see my middle school picture: bad hair, braces, big glasses, all topped off with the full head gear and a seriously bad hair cut.

Any oral report from that era would have been full of “Um and stuff.” A regular barn-burner of a presentation.

The debate between the cliff and the report would have been like asking me if I wanted to die from serious pain or die from humiliation.

But my kids outsmarted me once again and turned the question on me to something like this:

What’s my greatest fear…or more accurately what’s behind it?Tweet This

On the surface my greatest fear would be something happening to my kids (I’m a classic mama bear there). But really underneath it all is my total lack of control. It’s knowing that life is quite capable of forcing me to make adult choices that are the equivalent of having to face the cliff or the kids…and I don’t want to have to.

I don’t want to look into the deep blue distance called future knowing that I am quite unable to:
• Protect my daughter from mean girls,
• Stop my son’s horrible cough, or
• Rescue a friend from tough work circumstances.

I can’t even seem to control my own middle-aged weight.

On top of that, I can’t fix my microwave/oven combo unit or stop my car from breaking down…on the highway, at night, with a kid in the car, in a not so great area of town.

And that, folks, is just a tiny portion of my list from this last week. Yes, the last seven days, and those problems don’t come close to addressing the much more serious issues that might crop up.

Life forces me to confront the fact that I’m not in control…even when I want to be.Tweet This

Life is full of situations that send my heart beating hard against my ribs. Mind spinning, flying for solutions, but instead, slamming into the walls of my own incapable humanity.

What’s a girl to do?

My friend, Shannon Popkin, always says we were never intended to carry the burden of control. And she’s right. If I’m in charge, I also bear the heavy weight of being responsible for things I can’t change. Control is a burden.

And some days, I remember to hand over control to the one who promises that he’s mighty enough to save. Some days. Other days, not so much. Because while it’s a simple answer, trust is never easy. But I’m getting there. Life is, after all, a process.

So how about you? What’s the thing that keeps you up at night and how do you combat it?


If you’re interested in learning more about releasing the burden of control, pick up Shannon’s book, Control Girl, or the adult coloring book we created together, Reflections on Surrender.

4 thoughts on “How Control Creates Fear

    1. Because we’re all broken…and it’s hard to trust. Take refuge in the fact that it’s a process and we aren’t expected to be perfect.

  1. What a great post, Janyre. So true… the one thing I fear most is something happening to my kids, too. But I think God entrusts our kids to us for a season, to train us–slowly but surely–in the art of surrender. So thankful to have you as my friend as we walk this path of surrender.

    1. I told a friend of mine that just like rough sandpaper smooths more quickly, our kids smooth us quickly because they’re a little rough around the edges still. And I’m ever so grateful that God is available with his expertise (and a bit of salve) to help me react because sandpaper on my tender heart hurts rather a lot 🙂

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