Picture this...you are at the gym and you’re getting ready to lift some weights. It’s been a while, but you’ve decided to go for it. The barbell is in your hands and you are prepared to lift it up over your head.
But before you do so, a guy walks over to you and says, “I bet you can lift more than that. Here, let me help you.” You protest, but he insists and then he proceeds to add 20 more pounds to each side. And then he just walks away, no cheering you on, and no coaching.
You try to lift the barbell but it won’t budge. What you thought was going to be a profitable time of exercise just turned into a dead-weight hit and run that stalls your workout.
The issue of control is like those extra 40 pounds--extra, unnecessary weight. Control can take an otherwise regular situation and turn it into an un-liftable challenge.
And the irony is that we are that guy who added the extra weight. We do it to ourselves.
Bearing up under the weight of control takes its toll. We find we are unable to keep going while carrying the world on our shoulders. Much of the stress in our lives is caused by expectations, as well as trying to control situations so they turn out the way we think they should.
What would it look like to give up control? To not need to manage people or circumstances? Or, as Dallas Willard has said, “to practice the habit of not having to have the last word.”
Learning to let go is a freeing step along the path of transformation. Let me leave you with these three little words. Adding these words to your vocabulary can help ease the felt need to control and to make your way to letting go.
Small. Simple. Gracious.
Small – If you are trying to make a change in your life, make the first step as small as possible. There is no need to be heroic. No earthshaking moves. Keep it small. Habits matter first. Get the habit going and then increase as you are able.
Simple – Whatever this change is, it doesn’t need to be complicated or dramatic. Make it so simple that a 3rd grader would understand it. This keeps it real which means there is a change for lasting change. Simplicity is the yonder side of complexity and is born out of life wisdom.
Gracious – Go ahead and take a breath. There is no need for judgment or perfectionism. Be gracious with yourself as you move forward. Let’s admit it, this one is difficult. But do your best to move slow and to be patient with yourself. These are gracious moves and will create more lasting results.
Don’t be the one who adds extra weight that stalls your progress...or the progress of others.
Let me know how using these words affects your thoughts, feelings and actions. I’d love to know how they work out in your own life.
By the way, Podcast #93 is the second episode in a two-part series on our new book, What Does Your Soul Love? In it we unpack the final four themes of pain, fear, control and joy. We even more about control than I did here.
We invite you to listen on your next commute, while you do dishes or during your next walk.
Together, we are learning to rest deeper, live fuller and lead better.