Control

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Okay, so I admit I’m obsessive-compulsive about some things. Like where the pots and pans go in the kitchen, and some of my daily routines. But I’ve never forgotten what a speaker said years ago: when we’re obsessive, the key is to choose what to be obsessive about. Instead of trying to control our boss’s behavior, for example, we can focus on controlling our attitude or keeping our living space clean.

And yet there are very few things we can actually control, in terms of what happens to us externally. Countless situations involving illness or loss, work or family, life or death, all happen without our permission. But what we can control is our internal response to what happens to us.

When people control their inner response, the result is amazing resilience. Some children I’ve met who had witnessed horrendous family violence or abuse have actually grown through that suffering into healthy adulthood. At the same time, some who have lived through far lesser traumas have become hard and brittle. So what makes the difference?

Maybe it comes back to choosing our obsession. We can decide to obsess over our response to the Really Big Issues, like “God is in charge,” “God loves us and will carry us through,” and “Trust in God’s mercy.” All the rest is just details.

Your partner in ministry,
Betsy Schwarzentraub

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