Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Controlling the Controllable

Marsha is a Christian woman I admire who was faced with an uncontrollable situation–a workaholic husband.  She had tried through many years of marriage to Scott to get him to break his bad workaholic habits, but to no avail. Finally Marsha came to the conclusion that she could not control Scott; she could not force him to change; she could not make him listen to her.

At that point Marsha had a decision to make: Become a nag, or leave Scott and ruin both of their ministries, or control what she could control and find her fulfillment in legitimate ways apart from her husband, since he was rarely there for her and was completely occupied with his activities.  Marsha made a decision not to abandon her marriage or her family but to control what she could control–herself.

Eventually Scott became aware that Marsha was finding fulfillment in other activities. When he said to her, “You are no longer delighting in me, “ she was able to gently point out to him that it was true; she was finding fulfillment in areas where he was not involved, but only because she had not been able to convince him that his workaholism was a problem. With Marsha’s loving help, Scott was then able to see her point. He began a project to overcome his workaholic habits, and now he has dramatically changed that situation.

I was impressed and challenged with Marsha’s approach to her problem. She could have handled it in a very destructive way, but instead she chose to control that which was in her power to control–herself–and not waste any more time or energy trying to control what she could not control–her husband. But Marsha did it in such a loving, nonselfish way that eventually she was able to help Scott see his problem, and then he was willing to control what he could control–his workaholic tendencies.

I read something recently that really caught my attention: If you can control the controllable, you can cope with the uncontrollable. I started to think about that and realized how true it is.

Don’t you think we often spend a lot of time and energy fretting about things that are beyond our control? We try our best to control those uncontrollable people or things, manipulating here and there, discovering in frustration that our efforts are futile. Thriving, not just surviving depends in great measure on our ability to focus on the controllable and learn to let go of the uncontrollable. 

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