Lessons Learned #1: I’m a Control Freak?

From time to time, I will post something God has taught me. There are sure to be many, and they may be out of order, as I remember and post lessons He has taught me in the past. I want to have a record of what I have learned so I remember each lesson and don’t repeat mistakes made, only to have to learn the same lesson again. So, today’s lesson learned:

I get extraordinarily stressed about the lack of time in my life for school. At least a couple of times in each eight-week class, I consider quitting. I don’t give it serious consideration, but the thought does occur to me. Of course, this flies in the face of one of the main reasons I’m going to school – to prove that I can finish something besides a sinful sexual act.

I put my family, primarily my wife, through hell each time this happens, with my displays of anger and frustration over not having the time I need to devote to school assignments. I procrastinate, waiting until the last possible moment to do big projects. Then, I’m unavailable to my family for half a day or more as I try to hurriedly (and with less quality than I’d like) pull something together to turn in.

I get most angry, I’ve realized, over writing assignments. Which is odd, because writing is one of my absolute favorite things to do. That is, it’s one of my favorite things to do, as long as I can do it my way. And there’s the rub: I can’t do it my way for school assignments. I can’t just write what I think, particularly if it’s, for instance, a research paper. This past weekend, I had one of those due, and the same old issues of procrastination and anger came out.

I hate research papers. Part of it is fear of the unknown, since I haven’t had to write one since high school. But, the worst part is the hemmed-in feeling I get when I have to do one – the requirements they involve. The citations and references and the fact that my sources can only be scholarly, research-based ones. And the format of the papers has to be just so. Don’t get me wrong – I love formatting and I love for what I write to be visually pleasing. I love proper grammar (I’m known as the “grammar police” at work, and I automatically edit in my mind everything I read). I shudder at the thought of a misspelling or using the wrong word in my writing. I just don’t care for the formatting the schools require, and I hate that I have to spend a good bit of time on that, and not just on the content of a paper. In short, I want it my way!

So, control issues? Me? My wife mentioned that during one of my tirades this past weekend, and I believe she is right. That may very well be the bottom line from which my anger rises: I can’t do school work the way I want to. I gave up my sexual addiction, which was the pinnacle of control for me. When I was still involved in that, I decided what I would do, when and how I would do it, and I controlled the whole process. I don’t miss the addiction, of course, but perhaps I miss the control. There is currently little in my life over which I have absolute control. But, should a Christ-follower have that much control over anything? Ouch.

So, I must yield. If I am truly submitted to God and His perfect will for my life, then what I think, say and do has to be run through the filter of His Word. It’s the same for school, I now realize. I need to release control and accept the authority of the school and my professors. After all, the diploma won’t be worth much if I’m not required to adhere to any requirements to earn it. Another lesson learned, decades after it should have been. Better late than never, though, on God’s timeline.

I think the following scriptures speak to my issues with my school work, and I pray the Holy Spirit keeps them on my mind when I do anything, school-related or not:

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

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