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About ten years ago, I became a certified Control Freak. (Coincidently, it was also about the time when I became a mom…go figure.) Lately, I really feel like God is using my normal involuntary bodily functions to teach me that directing my own destiny is nothing but a delusion—there are some things that are just beyond our control. Here are some recent examples:

I went on a tour of a dental office a few weeks ago. We were supposed to begin at noon and I assumed it would be over in half an hour. Unfortunately for my stomach it went on way past my regular lunchtime. The bowl of cereal I had eaten at 7:00 was long gone and my stomach started to make a hollow rumble during the tour guide’s informative lecture.

“Here are our state of the art lab facilities…”

“Grrrr…” I attempted to mask that sound with a tiny throat-clearing.

“Over here, you can see our office suites…”

“Grrroooowwwwlll…” Much louder this time. I had to fake a full blown choking cough.

There was nothing to do but continue to growl and cough my way through the entire tour. My body was betraying me. I didn’t need to hear that I was hungry. I could already feel it!

Recently, I went to a dermatology appointment. (I should say first that my dermatologist is wonderful and I completely entrust him with all my skincare needs. This is important information so that you won’t think he’s creepy when you finish reading this.)

This was a follow-up appointment to monitor the results of the regimen he had prescribed for me. Using the back of his hand, he stroked my cheek to test the smoothness of my skin. This was a reasonable and effective method but I could feel a hot blush rise from my jaw line to my hairline. Nobody—not even my sweet husband—strokes my cheek like that.

He continued to test the area and stare without blinking at my face. Then he said, “It looks good. Hmmm… I hadn’t noticed it at first but it is a little splotchy. Just a little reddening…” I WAS BLUSHING! Not that he should know this but I’m a splotchy blusher. The more I tried to stop blushing the worse it got until I could feel sweat running down my side.

It’s hard to give up control. We live in “Make It Happen, Cowboy/Soldier/Under Dog” America. You don’t stop until you accomplish the task at hand or die trying. So how do balance it all? “Relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace?”

I’ve had the most difficult time relinquishing control during the past year as we’ve tried to adopt a baby from Africa. We filled out the papers, had them notarized and mailed to anyone and everyone. We asked friends to write glowing recommendations and sent off for numerous copies of all our birth certificates. We did everything that was asked of us and now we wait and wait and wait.

There’s no definite timeline to point to and no ever-increasing belly to measure. It all depends on the whims of African officials and a bureaucratic system that I couldn’t hope to comprehend. Or does it?

I’m learning that God asks us to act but He doesn’t expect us to make it all happen. He wants us to step out in faith to do something big but though that first step may be done by us, He promises to provide for us all along the way. We may come upon the occasional Red Sea that seems insurmountable, but He’ll help us find our way across if we’ll only plant our feet on the dry ground He’ll provide.

I’m struggling with the utter slowness of this process. I want to hear good news that proves that all of this preparation and expense hasn’t been in vain. During the few times that I’ve let God relieve me of the frustration, I can almost hear him say: “I’ve got this, Abby. You’ve got no idea how little you’re in control of anything. Please trust me. You’ll see.”

That’s my prayer tonight. I pray that I will stop trying to strategize and organize all aspects of my life. I announce my retirement as Control Freak. Instead, I’d like to give the control to Him who can spin the planets with a twirl of his finger. He can depose kings with a nod. And He can make all the arrangements to place a lonely child in the arms of a loving family.

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Control Freak

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