Up until a couple years ago, I picked out my kids’ clothes for church on Sunday mornings. Well, my girls sort of picked out their own, but they had a freakish amount of input from me. I liked for everyone to coordinate. If one girl was wearing a cotton sundress, I would strongly suggest the other girl might also want to wear a cotton sundress. If one boy really wanted to wear a short-sleeved, plaid, button-up shirt, then I would franticly look for short-sleeved, button-up shirts for all the boys — or at least two of them if the colors coordinated with the other boys’ golf shirts. Because, you know, the Zombie Apocalypse may be ushered in if one of my boys were wearing a shirt that clashed with his brothers’ clothes. Nearly every Sunday we looked like we’d gotten dressed for a family photo session.
Control issues much?
And though I don’t choose their church clothes any more, I do still constantly struggle with my control issues in other ways.
Sometimes I think if I lecture enough or creatively remind them enough, I can change their attitudes. I want a peaceful home so much that I get myself all stressed out trying to coerce everyone to get along. I have this idea in my head of how my home is supposed to be — and it is such a lovely idea! But then I live with real people. And they don’t always get with my plan. They don’t robotically live out the pretty, peaceful, perfect idea in my head. And then I get upset and end up being the one who totally wrecks the peaceful, loving ideal. Because I cannot really control anyone’s attitude but my own.
I’ve had enough life experiences that are totally out of my control -especially in the past few years. You’d think I would have learned this control lesson by now. But sometimes all of that big stuff spinning out of my control only makes me hold more tightly to my control of the little things. Or else I think if I research enough, learn enough, work hard enough, plan enough, then I can control some of that big stuff. And so I exhaust myself trying to be the god of my little universe.
I want my family members to have good, strong relationships with each other. So I interject myself, the buffer, into the middle of relationships. I emotionally exhaust myself trying to control what this one says and how that one acts and protecting this one’s feelings and sometimes when I think I’m spraying the fire extinguisher, I’m actually dumping gasoline. Because, honestly, it was never my job to fix everyone and control their emotions and relationships, so I’m bound to mess it up when I try.
It’s just that I had this idea in my head of the safe, loving environment I wanted my kids to grow up in. And it didn’t really involve struggling with learning disabilities or neurological malfunctions or an underlying fear for their daddy’s life and health or having front-row seats to watching their parents wrestle out the emotions of so much of the tough stuff of life. It did, however, involve lots of coordinating outfits! Obviously.
But a friend recently reminded me that while goals and ideals are good to have, life doesn’t always work out that way. When life is totally out of my control, it is still very much controlled. And the very things I want to protect my children from may be the things God will use to form them into the amazing and strong people He wants them to be.
Even if their outfits clash.