Have you ever seen someone fish? I’m not into fishing myself, but it’s actually a pretty good metaphor for life. The water is calm until you hook a fish. The fisherman reels in whatever is tugging on the line, and soon, it’s a tug of war. That’s kind of how I feel when I try to control my life. Since graduating, I’ve been wondering what to do in life, and I feel a lot like I’m fishing for answers and struggling to reel anything in.
When I get caught in the trap of controlling my life, I start to feel like that fisherman. Everything is fine until I hook a problem, such as a loaded schedule, financial problems, or an uncertain future. There begins a tug of war between my attempt to maintain control and the problems I’m facing. The more I try to reel in control, the less control and the more problems I actually have. A couple months ago, I felt this tug of war. I was in my last semester of college trying to answer the big question that hung over me: “What am I going to do once I graduate?”
I had a plan, and I thought I knew exactly what I was supposed to do. I took a job that I knew would make sense. I moved to a new city, and I started my new job. It wasn’t long before I felt that tug on the line. I was miserable every day at work and felt stuck. Nothing was going according to plan, and I tried my hardest to reel in control.
I reasoned with myself, I pushed down my emotions, and I worked harder than ever. Everything I tried wasn’t working. My control over my future felt like it was slipping away, and one night, the line broke. I was left with the realization that I was completely out of control.
Fear kicked in, and I was overwhelmed. I was afraid I had ruined my plans, and because my plans were ruined, I would become a disappointment to the people around me. In that moment, all I could manage to do was open my Bible App and search for “fear.” That’s when I found this verse:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV
Striving to control the circumstances of my life only made my life a mess. I kept trying to figure out what to do in life on my own, but I started realizing I actually needed to surrender control to God. The only way I could handle all the curveballs life was throwing me wasn’t by gaining more control but by actually giving up all control to the Lord. But if you’re a control freak like me, the thought of willingly giving up control is terrifying.
How do you give up control and figure out what to do in life?
1. Know this promise of God: Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21 NIV). It is our human nature to make plans, and making plans isn’t a bad thing. It’s good to be prepared, but we need to know our plans can change. God’s plan will be final.
2. Trusting the Lord is a key part to giving up control to Him. You wouldn’t let just anyone babysit your precious kids or take care of your beloved pets. You’d want to know more about them, so you could trust in their skills and character. You need to have the same trust in God and His ability to steer you right in life. If you want to trust the Lord, a good place to start is to seek Him daily. Read the Word of God to get to know Him more intimately. Make a habit of talking with God through prayer. When we pray, we have a direct line to God’s ear, so why would we forfeit that opportunity?
3. Find a community of godly people who help you grow. The need for control grows best when you live life alone. But when you find a group of friends, you learn that independence isn’t the greatest achievement in life after all. We need people to help us surrender control and trust God when we want to hold on with our own hands.
4. Discover where your passions and experience meet. What are you naturally good at? What fills you with joy? Your purpose is probably found at the intersection of what you love to do and what you’re great at doing. God gave you gifts for a reason, and He gave you things you enjoy that others may not. So if you’re stuck wondering what to do in life, do the next right thing. What’s a next step you can take right now to get you where you want to be later? Do more of that.
Believe me, I know just how scary it is to even think about giving up control, but when you give up control, the peace of God comes over you. Every time I feel myself going back to that tug of war, I try to remind myself that I have to relinquish control, just like a fisherman has to release their line to get a fish. Because when I do give up control, I feel a wave of peace wash over me, just like God promises. Check out what Philippians says about that:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV