When I was in grammar school, much of my free time was spent with my girlfriend Betty Jane. She and I would divide up my small wooden blocks, my black-and-white dominoes, and my plastic dollhouse furniture and dolls so that we could creatively design houses for the doll families. After the houses were carefully built, we would make up adventures for the doll families, with Betty and I providing the doll voices and commentary. You could say we strayed from the ordinary dollhouse play because we put our sometimes silly and always enjoyable spins on the exercise. Betty and I had complete control of the outcomes for the doll families. Other than the occasional mishap with domino walls toppling, we orchestrated every aspect of our play-date episodes.
In real life, control is always an issue. Especially today, we hear controversies spurred by such words as “mandates,” “restrictions,” “requirements,” “regulations,” and “orders.” There are controls on things we eat, use, view, and administer. Certainly in any society, rules and laws are necessary to protect everyone’s health and safety. Invariably, certain people will challenge these controls either for self-interest or, perhaps, out of well-meant concerns.
In our personal lives, health issues can limit our control. For example, we may not feel so free if diabetes treatment affects our diet. My arthritic knees challenge my control of certain exercises and other physical activities.
And let’s not forget who wants control of our spiritual lives. Satan is very sneaky and tries to disturb our peace and obstruct our journey to holiness. It is not unheard of for us to become a bit content and lackadaisical when life goes on routinely. We can get a bit “spoiled” when things are going our way. We might become complacent and overly lenient with ourselves.
Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28)
The Ten Commandments, the commandments of the Church, the beatitudes, and Jesus’ other teachings give us guidelines to help us maintain our self-control. Control for control’s sake is potentially sinful. Control for the purpose of our coming closer to the Lord and spreading God’s love to others is a worthy goal. It takes work and prayer.
For inspiration, we might pray with 2 Timothy 1:7:
for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
And there is the reassuring passage, Romans 8:38-39, in which St. Paul tells us,
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor
things present, or things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor
anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of
God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let us rejoice that our loving God is the Master of control. When we look to him, he will teach us. He will strengthen us. If it is my way or his higher way, I—I hope like all of us—will choose his higher way of love!
Photo by Sean Foster on Unsplash
Scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.