Is there a 12-step program for people with addiction to control? How about a book, Giving Up Control in Five Easy Steps? No? Well, there should be.

Hello, my name is Joni, and I am a control freak.

Yep, its official. I’m sure this doesn’t affect you personally, dear reader, but maybe you know someone who is a control freak. Who likes to have her neat list, who wants to know that, barring a tsunami, she will be able to manage every aspect of her life and the lives of those around her. Who am I kidding, of COURSE you know someone like this – ME.

Here’s the one word in the English language I can’t pronounce, much less practice. It comes out of my lips like the telephone number of a drunk person: SURRENDER.

verb: To yield or resign in favor of another

When I think of surrender, I don’t tend to think of it in positive terms. I tend to think it is giving up, when your back is against the wall, when you have no alternative but to fold your cards. It’s over, I lost, I’m done.
But what if I changed my perspective? What if surrender wasn’t actually giving up, but, as the definition above says, “resigning” in favor of someone who is going to do the job better? What if I resigned my position as “General in Charge of All Things Affecting My Life and the Lives of Those I Love”? Would the world fall apart? Would everything I juggle fall to the ground and smash into tiny pieces? Would the oxygen supply to earth suddenly dry up?

The thing is, surrender is ALWAYS a choice. Surrender must, by definition, be a choice. If its not a choice, its no longer surrender: its death, or apprehension, or being overtaken. Surrender is never forced. I can choose to fight until I take my last breath and collapse, bloody and dead, on the ground…. Or I can choose to surrender. I can choose life or I can choose death. I can choose to give up my seat to someone who might do a better job than I at running the Nation of Joni.

One of my favorite quotes is: “I am more and more convinced that our happiness or unhappiness depends more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of those events themselves” (Alexander Humboldt).

And then there’s me… with my fighting spirit, trying to maintain control of every single situation affecting myself and those I love… I’m unhappy sometimes. I’m meeting the events of life harried and anxious. I’m meeting them with my hands full and a mentality of “I can’t take one more thing!” My happiness isn’t altered because my daughter had a bad day at school. My happiness is altered because I believe, somehow, some way, I should have been able to control it.

I don’t leave work in tears because my job sucks. I leave work in tears because it is one. more. thing. added to my spinning world, and that phone call ruined my entire outlook because I just couldn’t handle one more thing. Because I walk around with 296 things on my list and I try to control every single one.
Because [I] want to make it happen.

But… its not really mine to carry. All those worries and cares and anxieties… all those plates and balls, fishtanks and feelings, futures and destinies – they aren’t mine, but I think I can do a better job at keeping them up than God, or the Universe… or anyone else, for that matter!

So what happens if I surrender what isn’t mine? What happens if I surrender what IS mine?
What if I just surrender it all: live my life, make decisions day-to-day, but embrace the idea that whatever happens is not just the product of my careful maneuvering, but is the product of a life well-lived, seeds sown in grace and humility, and whatever is supposed to be? What if I were to trust that others ((who’s plates I currently spin)) could possibly spin their own plate, and how much would that empower them, if I just trusted them?

Or what if I really believed that God really wants to give me a “hope and a future” (as opposed to letting me earn it or create it for myself)?

Right now, I’m afraid I can’t see beyond the crowded plates and balls… but I’m dropping those all over the place and considering that perhaps yielding my throne to someone with more experience in these things might not be a bad idea. Surrender: a choice I’m trying to make.
It’s more than changing a behavior, it’s changing my attitude, it’s changing my perspective, and it’s confronting the lie I believe(d) that I CAN control things and people and situations. Because, after all… isn’t my control really just an illusion? If anyone has any ideas to share on specifically HOW to give up control, I’m all ears! For now, I am giving up control in 365 easy steps. Surrendering today. And doing the same thing every day, all year long.


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