Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Illusion of Control

Last week I had a really bad day.  Well it wasn't a bad day so much as a bad afternoon/evening.  It was followed with a fabulous afternoon/evening the next day.  The contrast between the two days and how I planned for those days was startling!  But I get ahead of myself…

Here is the set up.  Kids have soccer practice (again) but since we are now doing this 4 nights a week (sigh) I am really trying to implement strategies that get us to all eat healthy and get some time with my hubby as well.  So before the kids are even out of school I have some homemade chicken and rice soup in the crockpot.  I get the munchkins home, and spend an hour or so goading them to get their homework done, clothes changed, water bottles filled and bags repacked for practice.  I load up my crockpot, drinks and all that, and we set out for the park.  I unload the kids and the crockpot and the drinks and the bags and get everything all set up.  The boys take off, Hubby is milling around talking to the other coaches, so the girls and I dish out the soup.

Which they don't like.  No biggie. I hand them each a V-8 and they mill around nibbling on the soup, picking out the chicken.   And I wait, and wait, and wait for Hubby to come over and sit with me in the cool breeze and gaze at the sunset.  And he continues to talk to the other coaches.  So I bring him a cup of soup and ask him to join me.  That is when he says IT.  Just a few words that crush me.  "I told them I would help out".  He has no intention of sitting with me for a quiet romantic dinner while we watch the children happily frolic in the setting sun.  No, instead he is yucking it up and I am trying to keep Anna from drinking some kid's Gatordaide.  And listening to the whining that they don't like the soup.  And "can't we PLEASE go swing mommy".  I am wondering why I am even HERE?  This STINKS. My carefully crafted (and totally unrealistic) evening of relaxation and time with hubby is gone.

So in tears I take the girls home to give them bath before the boys return.   Hubby and I re-connect after the kids are in bed and all is well between us by the time we turn off the porch light.

The next night is totally different.  Hubby works late.  He rarely works late, but those nights that he does I really really plan for it.  I think there is an element of panic on my part because I am not going to get any relief on those nights, but really it always goes super smooth.  And this evening is no different.  I plan the dinner to have an easy clean up, something that the kids will like, I run the girls a little ragged at the park during soccer and push them on the swing loving to listen to them giggle.  Once we finish up with baths bedtime goes smoothly.  Everyone is happy.

And it has me thinking.  Gosh, it is so much better when I can just control everything.  My night was horrible when Hubby "messed up" my plans.  When I was on my own it was wonderful.  And that is so dangerous and so deceptive.  Evil has its way of popping up and interjecting itself into our thinking.

I was not any more in control on my wonderful Wednesday night than I was on Tuesday night.  

It is all an illusion of control.

As parents in particular, when do we ever really have control?

Kids get sick.  Kids get hurt.  Accidents happen.  Miscommunications occur.  Companies go out of business and jobs are lost.

We have a free will, but we are surrounded by people who also have free will.  Their decisions impact us and all we are able to do is react.   We are going to have good days and bad days, but it is unhealthy to think that we are the ones who determine (through our own actions & planning & handiwork) if those are going to work out for us as we hope.  We think "If we just planned a little better this wouldn't have happened…" The reality is that although we can't control all the elements we can control how we react to the events as they unfold around us.

I say that I am striving each day to conform myself to God's will.  In doing so, should I be tightening my control on the world around me or should I strive to free myself from seeking that control?   So on these days when the world is spinning out of control I hope I can remember that I am living with the illusion of control.  All I can truly control is how I react to this imperfect world and that choice can either tear down those around me, or build up God's Kingdom here on earth as I seek to do not my will but His will.

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