When I was a young woman, I had so much “God-confidence” that one would wonder if I weren’t really a little arrogant. Honestly, my daily reading of God’s Word would infuse such hope and joy into my soul that I went about life with a passionate focus, and I was always surprised that people considered such passion unique.
One of my God-confident building moments came when I was invited to speak at a large women’s event in Oklahoma, and they wanted to know how to “define me” for the brochure; I should mention that the roster of speakers included none other than Miss Oklahoma. As I struggled with how to spice up a “stay at home mom” bio, I read the following verse: “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping Him with holy fear and awe (Heb. 12:28, NLT). Instantly this phrase came to my heart and mind, “Jackie, you are a princess from an unshakable Kingdom.” Later that day, I called the event director and gave her my description. She chuckled at first, and then I quoted the source of my God-confidence and she said, “That is wonderful.”
As the years passed, my life became more complex, and instead of relying on the fact that I serve a God of an unshakable Kingdom and I am His princess, I began to increasingly depend on my lists and my blueprints and my scripts as the roadmaps for life. But then my confidence began to be shaken. The very plans I thought were “unshakable” were being shaken by my attempts to control the chaos around me. My driven intent to control caused me to forfeit my God-confidence, and the princess from an unshakable Kingdom was stumbling all around in desperation, trying to control the uncontrollable.
Looking back, my greatest regret as a controlling woman is spending four decades trying to rescue my family of origin from destructive behavior. I have spent so much time and so much money trying to “save them” from so many poor choices—four desperate decades of effort and worry and heartache. You might think that my tenacity is commendable, but the hard truth is that my tenacity was not led by God—it was compelled by my stubborn, controlling self. My passion to be my family’s messiah was not good.
You would think that after the suicide of two siblings I would realize how powerless I am over my siblings—but the suicides actually became my motivation to get a “PhD in Control.” After paying for yet another stint in rehab, when a particular sibling relapsed again, I drove, weeping, to an Al-Anon meeting. That night I heard a 70-year-old man tell of the heartache his son was still putting him through, and I just gasped. I seriously thought I could not breathe. But the Lord used that man’s remarks to throw a bucket of ice water in my face. That night the scales on my eyes were beginning to peel off. The final surgery was in our kitchen when I heard the painful truth of the vanity of my controlling efforts—not from a professional counselor or my pastor, but from my oldest child! It is pretty sad when you, the adult, have to hear the truth from your child.
I had been studying the names of God and His characteristics, and the thought came to me: “I try to do this all the time!” I try to be the Alpha and the Omega. I think that I’m the One who provides (Jehovah Jirah) and the One who heals (Jehovah Rapha), the Wonderful Counselor and the Way, the Truth, and the Life. As I began to recognize this reality, the Lord graciously gave me an encouraging “correction” by revealing to me the core issue of my soul. I wore a “junior god badge.” And like a sheriff who takes his badge very seriously, who wears it with pride and functions out of its authority, this junior god badge absolutely defined me. I began to realize that I was trying to “be God” in all kinds of situations, and that badge was the daily reminder of my role. Having that badge securely in place, I would feel pretty confident that I would be the woman of my husband’s dreams, the joy of my children’s heart, the savior of my family, and the most awesome child of the King!
What’s wrong with wanting to be the best wife, mother, and child of the King? Nothing is wrong with wanting to be the best. But it was the motivation behind that noble desire and the methods I was using to bring it about. This is what God wanted me to see. He wanted me to see that I was taking over His job description!
The following excerpt from my devotional journal was a seed that grew into a tree of surrender:
Where did this “junior god badge” originate? Who was the first person who struggled with the desire to run the universe, or at least his or her part of the planet? I don’t mean to pick on our dear mother, Eve, but she was the first woman who decided that control was better than dependence on God. Now, she was not the first “being” that wanted the junior god title—that belongs to lucifer, whose “love song” of independence (see Isa. 14:12-15) transported him from heaven to hell. Now he roams planet Earth in an attempt to enlist people in his choir!
This junior god badge mentality manifests itself in the basic need to control. The woman with this propensity will actually feel the responsibility of living out the very characteristics of God. I know this woman very well, and I have experienced all her propensities.
For example, the omnipresent woman can be found zooming through the day, rushing here and there to be everything to everybody. She is doing her best to be everywhere for everyone so that she can keep everyone in her world happy. This omnipresent woman ends up frustrated and fatigued.
The omnipotent woman has unrealistic, grandiose expectations of herself. Common phrases used by her throughout the day are: “I can do it. I’ll get it. I’ll fix it. I’ll do it.” She is so driven to make everyone happy that she even worries about God’s needs.
The omniscient woman is driven by the need to be all-knowing (constantly reading, attending seminars, etc.) so she can use her knowledge to control, pressure, and manipulate those in her world. Controlling them for their good is her reason—but also her blind spot.
The sovereign woman manifests the heart of the need to control. “I am in charge so no one will get hurt.” She is afraid to surrender the terrible burden she is carrying—the burden of always wanting life on her terms.
Only God Almighty can be all-knowing, all-powerful, and always present—never fatigued, frustrated, drained, aggravated, and burned out. Wow, I am already tired and it is only 2:07 p.m.! I think I am going to remove my junior god badge and put it back in the junk drawer in my kitchen. The Lord has given me the freedom to wear the badge—if I want to burn out myself and others. Once again, I choose to remove my junior god badge, pour myself a Diet Coke, and let God be in charge; I am just too tired.
To surrender my junior god badge, I needed to come to a place where I recognized my propensity to control my world and my loved ones. I had to finally admit that I was ‘underqualified’ to do God’s job, and to recognizing the ‘control freak’ that lived deep within my heart. But when I learned to exchange my exhaustion for His rest, I learned that I no longer have to put ‘post-it-notes reminders’ on God’s throne—He knows, He sees and He is on the move!