Last night I was told by Doug, my loud-mouthed Canadian buddy, that the problem with me is that I'm a huge control freak. Are these the words of a friend? I immediately asked him to repeat the statement, fully expecting it's revocation with some followup like "Only kidding. Lighten up man." What I got was a repeat without hesitation and with greater emphasis on the word HUGE... "You are a HUGE control freak." Ouch!
A man I greatly respect named Lloyd Rindels once told me that in every stinging remark another man makes about you there is probably at least an ounce of truth. So I knew there was some truth in this statement. The incontrovertible evidence of this is the simple absence of joy. Control kills joy without mercy. It is a soul killer. God's been asking "Where's your joy, son?", a question that reveals to me that I have all but given up on joy. I think I don't really trust it because it never seems to last. To be honest I have to make a conscious decision to allow joy to express itself in a smile.
Control doesn't like being around joy, I've found. My children have an extra measure of joy which at times actually provokes control, like gas on a fire. Control hates to be in the presence of joy. My wife, who I married because she possesses the happy heart I longed for, has often been the recipient of my controlling anger. There are often moments the voices inside tell me that joy is for the foolish, and to indulge in it will only prove to disappoint. So I return to the safety of my illusion of control.
And yet I can't shake the desire to receive joy either. I recently read up on Jesus words about joy. He said he came, in part, so that our joy may be complete. Complete joy. Hmmm. I think God is somewhere in the mix here.
I give you permission, God. Take me to a life of freedom from control. Show me an enduring joy. Show me the power of joy. Amen.
Doug's accusation was a helpful nudge in the right direction. Thank you God, for friends who know me and who love me enough to be truthful. His margarita probably helped.