I spent years training myself that it was okay to walk through a room without putting things away or tidying up or dusting or whatever needed to be done. My need to control my environment came from growing up in a world with no stability and no normal. When everything was going crazy, when my parents were fighting or moving in or moving out, I could find comfort in putting a closet in order or washing the dishes and neatly putting them in the cupboard. Truth is, when I feel stressed, I still organize drawers and clean things. But as a child of the Lord, I know that my ultimate comfort comes from Him. While my closets will again fall into disorder, He will always remain immutable.
I always thought I was alone in this peculiarity, but as a woman who counsels many other women, I find this is a common phenomena. When we are pushed to a corner the built in gift God has given us to be good home makers often comes out in full force. I would compare it to my husband's need to chop firewood when he was laid off.
I didn't know if this title would be humor or self help but I knew with a name like that I wanted to read it. Priscilla worked in both. A humorous look at who we are and how to overcome it.
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Priscilla Knox Morrison serves in a women’s prison ministry, speaks at conferences and retreats on women’s issues, and writes on topics related to these ministries. Priscilla enjoys entertaining, playing with her grandchildren, reading, crocheting, and walking in the woods on the Blue Ridge Mountains where she resides with her husband, Larry.
Visit the author's website.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Confessions of a Control Freak, by Priscilla Knox Morrison. Through her practical advice and humorous personal illustrations, readers will learn to accept their limitations and trust God with the future.
List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
So…What Are We
Talking About Here?
Talking About Here?
We all know a control freak when we see one. It’s the person hardly anyone can stand to work with because it’s her way or the highway. The mother whose children have to file their socks. The father who gets obedience from his family but scares the living daylights out of them. The guy who can’t relax because things around him aren’t perfect. Or the woman next to me on a plane recently who not only demonstrated how to put my tray down, but told me where to put my cup. These people can be the bane of our existence, or worse, we might realize that we’re control freaks too.
Am I a control freak?
Perhaps you’re honestly asking yourself, “How do I know if I’m a control freak?” Here are some recognizable signs:
· nagging others
· trying to orchestrate outcomes
· butting into others’ affairs
· worrying about things beyond your control
· feeling anxiety about the future
· never feeling peaceful
· needing everything to be in perfect order
It takes some harsh evaluating to recognize some of these habits in yourself. If you’re a detail person, it’s tricky to wear the planning hat and not put on the micromanaging hat at the same time. Before admitting to this aspect of my nature, I was a very frustrated person. I grew up in a big family, and I was the neatnik. I loved to clean and organize and had plenty to work with since our house was always Grand Central Station. If I was a control freak when I was younger, though, I certainly wasn’t aware of it! Then I got married and had children. If you’re single and think you might be a bit of a control freak, just get married and have some kids. Your tendencies will blossom into a garden of full-blown habits.
My husband, Larry, and I have six children. I wanted all six. I love all six. But it was in parenting that my control freak dilemma surfaced. I still marvel at how many details come into play for eight people to get through one day—you have to plan for rising times, cooking, dishes, carpooling, surprise throw-ups, chores (yours and training them to do theirs), squabbles, laundry, missing socks, sports (in different locations simultaneously), music lessons, music practice, weather (which is always a challenge to control), grocery shopping, phone calls, junk mail (thankfully e-mail hadn’t been invented during those busy days), paying bills, running to the Emergency Room, making reservations, visiting friends, helping each child with homework, doctors’ visits, church activities, clubs, kind deeds, character building, listening, encouraging, wife-ing, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Over time, I morphed from detail-person to Frau Commandant. When did I cross the line? Where did good mothering, wife-ing, and friending end and controlling begin?
Where does the term “control freak” come from?
Curious as to how exactly the term “control freak” became so popular, I decided to look up the word control in the dictionary. According to Webster, control means…
· to regulate financial affairs
· to verify, as an experiment, by comparison with a standard
· to exercise authority over; direct; command
· to curb; restrain; hold back
· authority to direct or regulate
· a means of restraint; check
· a standard of comparison for verifying or checking the findings of an experiment
· an instrument or apparatus to regulate a mechanism; as, the controls of an airplane
See anything negative here? When I read this, a light went on. Not all control is bad. I had become so self-critical about my controlling nature that I was afraid to tell my kids to take out the trash. My new goal was to figure out how my personality could flourish without driving others nuts. There might be a place in the world for someone with my gifts!
If the term “control” isn’t all bad, then perhaps being controlling isn’t all bad either. Yes! I asked friends about conditions in which it was proper or valid to be controlling, and they mentioned these situations:
· when taking care of children or the elderly; when you’re responsible for other people
· when you’re the chairperson of a committee
· when you need to take charge in an emergency
· when you’re an employer managing a business
· when you’re in an experimental laboratory and there must be strict control of conditions
· when it’s a question of duty—military leaders, police officers
· when it’s forced upon you by people who are too passive
· when you’re in church leadership
So what’s a “control freak”?
You know them. You avoid them:
· the mother who watches her child’s every move
· the friend who tries to orchestrate a situation to his or her benefit
· the husband who wants to monitor his wife’s comings and goings
· someone who wants to make all the decisions at the office with no input from others
· the one who deliberately joins the committee in order to run the show
· the acquaintance who continually gives unsolicited advice
We get the idea. When people call us control freaks, they’re not paying us a compliment.
When I started journaling on the subject, I actually thought that control was a woman’s problem. This probably grew from my frustrations as a wife and mother and knowing so many other women who were in the same boat. In time I saw that control is, of course, a human problem. I think we all have our areas where we’d like to have more control—some of us just have more areas! The urge to control is a universal trait found in women and men alike. My paternal grandfather, for instance, controlled the household finances, and my grandmother had to go to him each day for the grocery money. The man was into control.
Am I a hopeless case?
In the midst of many happy years of raising what I felt was a wonderful family came some agonizing times. As life spun out of control I was frustrated beyond belief. I had many difficult lessons to learn if we were all going to survive. Three things helped me make progress.
1. Finding that the Bible, God’s holy Word, was relevant for today. And not only was it relevant, but it was true, and it worked. Whenever I took the time to search out an answer in Scripture, I got help. And amidst all the wisdom and help was a relational God who loved me and graciously revealed purpose to all I was going through.
2. Reading several books, which I’ll reference throughout. It’s fun to keep learning and discovering through the wisdom and experience of those who have been through the same struggles.
3. Discovering prayer. I was raised in a Christian home, I married a pastor, and I taught my kids about Jesus, all without much prayer. Simple, right? Nope—it was the hardest—and most foolish—thing I ever tried.
What drives us to control others, or even just our own circumstances?
Some of what drives me—and perhaps you too—will be covered in the following chapters. Each of us has our own past and our own unique personality, both of which form our reactions and responses to life. But control freaks all have some things in common. They might say things like…
· I actually have more talents and abilities than some others I work with.
· I want to feel better about myself.
· I’m afraid—afraid of the future, afraid of losing control, afraid to trust someone else, afraid of failure, and afraid for those I love.
Are any of these statements true for you? If so, perhaps you will identify with one or more of the confessions that follow. If you find yourself in these pages, I hope you will turn to the God who enlightens, forgives, delivers, and, most of all, loves.
Before we dive in, take a few minutes to consider the following questions about your own need to take control and your attitude toward those who seek to control you.
CONTROL FREAK QUESTIONNAIRE
1. In your own words, describe a control freak.
2. Would you consider yourself to be a control freak? Why or why not? (If not, skip to question 10.)
3. If yes, does this bother you about yourself? Why or why not?
4. Do others accuse you of being a control freak? If so, why do you think they do?
5. Does it bother you that others feel this way toward you? Why?
6. What might you like to change about yourself, if anything, as it relates to this issue?
7. What do you think may cause you to seek control? Is it just a part of your personality? Does it relate to your childhood experiences?
8. How did you first become aware of this tendency?
9. Can you think of certain circumstances that cause you to want control?
10. Think of someone you would describe as a control freak. What do you think causes them to act in this way?
11. Do you have a good relationship with this person? If you do, how have you learned to get along with them? If not, what changes would need to be made before you could be close?
12. What do you find most difficult about your relationship with this person? Have you been able to talk with them about it? If so, what was the outcome?
13. If you could communicate one idea to this person, what would it be?
14. Do you think it is ever proper/valid to be controlling? Explain.
15. If you are a person who reads the Bible, what have the Scriptures taught you in regard to the desire to control other people and events?
16. What have other people and life experiences taught you about control issues?