Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Land of No Control

Long ago I decided that whoever designed pantyhose was either (a) sadistic or (b) had no nerve endings between her knees and her waist and was hoping the rest of the female population would follow suit. More likely, it was actually a man who designed them and never even put a pair on to see the outcome of his folly. Consequently, I stopped wearing them, even when I have to go to weddings in the middle of January and I know it's totally socially inappropriate. I just don't care. The seductive promises of control-top don't tempt me, nor does the lure of a smooth looking leg. I wear my scars proudly, even when covered with goose bumps, because the freedom is worth it.

I wish I could say that pantyhose were not the only methods of control I rejected at an earlier age, but I'd be lying. I think I've lived my whole life in the land of "Control Freak." Maybe if I plan for every possible outcome and have a million hypothetical conversations in my head, then I can be sure of the outcomes, right? How much time have I wasted on the "what-ifs"? How many lists have I created, with their neat little boxes just ready for my satisfied check mark, finding my identity in the fact that so much of my world was ordered? I was nothing more than a slave to fear.

I've hit that point in my sabbatical when people are starting to ask those questions that are calling me to a summary of what I've learned. As I've tried to put this amazing experience into words, one word has dominated: Freedom. Freedom from fear, freedom from performance, from the tyranny of busy-ness and self-importance, from low expectations, from self-limiting boxes shaped like other people and not myself and, mostly, the freedom to actually trust God. Not just in word, but in deed. I may not be buying pantyhose, but what I am buying only comes in two sizes: all or nothing. I'm either free or I'm not, there's no halfway or almost. I'm either free or I'm a slave.

God has been breaking me of this control in so many ways; through unanswered questions, through different opinions on the timing of events in my life and through victorious glimpses into what a day feels like when it's approached with openness, flexibility and a deep sense of adventure and expectation. Just today I had a meeting with a man who has a great say on what is next for me in my career. Rather than preparing a 3 page, double-spaced treatise on all the options I saw, I just prayed a whole lot and showed the heck up, trusting that God would work through him to give me direction. And you know what? He did, in amazing and life-giving ways that have already, just hours later, gotten me so excited for this post-sabbatical phase of my life that it's hard not to start planning it right now! But I won't, because this life is a life I hope to live with much margin, joyful spontaneity, fewer lists and no pantyhose. Particularly not control-top. Sure, I gave them up years ago but it never hurts to reaffirm such an important commitment.

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