Mountain View - Control Freak By Paula Friedrichsen

Writer Author  Church On The Mountain
Christian Column : Christian Living  - Fiction  No

Christian Author Writer I’m a bit of a control freak. But I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be…. Here’s why:

About ten years ago my family and I enjoyed a fantastic two-week vacation to Maui. Overall it was a lovely trip, but one incident—a kayaking adventure—stands out as a miserable experience in which God taught me an important lesson.

When my husband and I were planning this vacation we decided to book some activities online beforehand to save time once we arrived. And the activity we looked forward to the most was called the, “Scenic Kayak Adventure.” But ohhhh did the “scenic adventure” turn out differently than imagined…. Who knew we were going to be required to kayak over three miles in the open sea? Who knew one could get seasick on a kayak? Who knew how out of shape we really were?

On the day of our big adventure we left the condo before dark and arrived on the other side of the island ready for some fun. The morning began with a short lesson on how to paddle a kayak. After that we divvied up our kids—my husband being paired with our eight-year old daughter in his kayak, and me being paired with our fifteen-year old son in mine. Then (gulp) we headed out to sea. But rather than cutting smoothly and swiftly through scenic glassy waters as I had envisioned, we strained every muscle in an attempt to cut through extremely choppy ocean swells. We had been instructed that the backseat kayak occupant was to use his paddle to steer the kayak, while the front seat person continues to paddle steadily. Once we got out to the open sea we discovered this trip would require constant steering and readjustment of our positions to avoid losing sight of our guide (who I might say was racing ahead happily at his own pace).

Though my son was only fifteen at the time, he was built like a tank, standing several inches taller then me and outweighing me by almost a hundred pounds. He was clearly a great choice for the strong, backseat “steering” position. And this arrangement really should have been no problem, except that I refused to “let go” and allow my son to take control. I kept trying to steer our kayak to correct our course, thinking that I was in a better position to judge where we should be going. Consequently, my son and I were fighting each other with our opposite moves. He finally said to me "Mom, unless you stop trying to steer, I can't do my job."

I struggled to let go, but when I did things went much more smoothly. It wasn’t fun by any measure of the word….but we did make it back in one piece. In fact, the only reason Andrew and I still aren’t paddling around in circles somewhere in the middle of the Pacific is because I stopped steering!

God used that incident to teach me a deeper lesson about letting go of my need for control. It’s the Lord’s desire to lead each one of us, to reveal his will for our lives, and to direct us toward the best decision in every circumstance. And when we allow God to steer He makes our lives an enjoyable adventure. But if we think we know better and insist on taking over the controls again and again—watch out!

It's so easy to sidestep the instructions found in God's Word in favor of doing our own thing. We may truly love Him, and yet have a stubborn streak that deludes us into thinking that his Word does not apply to us or to our particular situation. When that happens, we’ve taken over the control of our lives (the kayak) and we will go in circles, getting nowhere with a whole lot of effort! Yet, “letting go” feels so good! Letting go of worry… letting go of anxiety… letting go of fear, doubt, failures, mistakes, and anger. It’s all so freeing! You simply cannot control every aspect of your life. It’s exhausting, and it just doesn’t work. It’s only imagined control anyway because ultimately you’ll just go in circles trying to manage, direct, organize, and dictate every circumstance in your life. Sometimes you just have to turn it all over to God and trust Him for the outcome. He’s trustworthy and He loves you…. So who better to steer, right?

Paula Friedrichsen is a member of Church on the Mountain, a vibrant community of believers in Crowley Lake. We meet at 9:30 Sunday mornings. Call for more information: 935-4272 or

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