I get it, we all want things to go a particular way. We get this image in our heads about how things might go, we dream, or we imagine. Part of what makes us so incredible is our ability to imagine, plan, and execute.
Just look at the pyramids, the Suez canal, the vast and complex organization of vaccine distribution. Sure it’s problematic but it’s incredible all the same.
So your desire for control is totally normal. Nothing could be more human than a desire to have things go a certain way.
And of course, it’s also totally absurd. Life with all of its wildness, its complexity, its variability laughs in the futile attempts to control it. And even if you make an exception for the wildness of nature, people are just as challenging.
We can hardly get our partners to load the dishwasher the way we want or even agree on the right way to put flowers into a vase. Much less get people to love us the way we want or listen to our well-reasoned arguments about how stupid they’re being.
At the foundation our desire to control is a desire to feel safe. If it goes this way and if it looks the way we want, we will feel good and we will feel safe.
We long for this because being in control gives us the taste of what we imagine God or the gods might feel. A sense of sovereignty and domain.
The irony is that we then go wonder at nature, which has been placed in a way we never could have imagined. A miasma of rock worn down by rivers, trees growing from seeds thrown about by the wind. We love nature for its wildness, but struggle when that wildness enters our lives.
Wildness in society is called instability, insanity, and it is crazy making.
Perhaps we’d all be better off if we could relax. Let the flowers be placed in the vase a different way, allow the ants to crawl on our balcony with awe, accept that some people in their wildness don’t need to change, though we may need to spend less time with them.
Perhaps we can understand that our desire for control is normal and not make ourselves wrong for our urges to have things be a certain way, and at the same time, perhaps we can relax just a bit and let go of things needing to be a certain way.
There is a freedom in sitting in this tension that embraces our human desire and laughs at the comedy of it all. This is a freedom brought to us by equal parts, faith, surrender, and humor.
It’s a freedom that is the punchline to the joke that we were created with a deep desire to control in a world that mocks even our most basic attempts to control anything at all.