Control and the New Year

A few months ago I heard a very good homily on sin: the root of sin, according to the preacher, was an insistence on control. This could be control over a person, a situation, or the path of one’s own life. Rather than “thy will be done,” sin is an insistence that “my will be done” no matter what. I have often found that this is the cause of my impatience as well. It stems from my desire to control a certain situation–to hurry a conversation, to stick to my schedule and ignore the needs of others.

I realized something else in the past few months–once a person has asserted complete control over their life, it is at that moment that faith dies. I’ve found it is hardest to keep faith alive when I am in “planning” mode–and by that I don’t mean deciding where to have brunch on the weekend. I can go into a very extreme sort of planning mode in which I make lists of people I need to see, classes I need to take, appointments I need to make, and before I know it, I’ve booked myself an entire year’s worth of activities.

This is part of the reason, I suspect, that diverting from my routine–even during a vacation or around the holidays–can lead to inordinate stress. And even when I try to push the stress away and tell myself it’s not right to worry, it always rears its ugly head in other forms. In the past few weeks, it’s been nightmares, or waking up in the middle of the night worrying about trivial things or events that are several months away.

The only remedy that’s been effective is constant, short bouts of informal prayer (“Lord, help me,” is an easy one). And it does take constant awareness, because as soon as I’ve moved on from one worry I feel like I’m on to the next. I suppose what’s kept me hopeful is the acknowledgement that God can free me from my anxieties and that I don’t have to just accept them as a “part of who I am.”

Anyway–baby steps. Here’s to a happier, healthier, holier 2015.

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