The power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.
I want it. I want control. I want to make the decisions. I want to decide what happens. Because when I do, things turn out great. I have great ideas. My plans are in the best interest of everyone. My plans make people happy.
Control is something I thrive off of. Whether it is control over something so insignificant about what movie to watch or over something life changing such as what college to attend, I want control. When I lose control, I don’t know where to turn. Making plans and decisions keeps me going each day and helps me to feel productive. Having a goal in sight gives me something to work towards.
It was my senior year of high school and I had the perfect plan. I would graduate, live at home, and go to a local school in Denver. I wasn’t really the college type and therefore, I had no interest in going away to college. I would rather live at home where I was comfortable. I would study elementary education. I would continue to teach piano. I would continue to nanny. I would continue to watch my little sister and brother grow up. I would continue to spend time with my family and friends. It was perfect. I could get an education, have a secure income, not be paying for housing or food, and I really wouldn’t have to get out of my comfort zone. It all sounded perfect. So I went with it. I applied to the school and got accepted. Nothing could top my plan.
This was my perfect plan and I was convinced the outcome would be great.
Like usual, my life didn’t go as I planned.
It was my first day of college and I was in a new state, with new people, in a new culture, with nothing I was used to. The only thing familiar to me was my family who was leaving in three days. Soon I would be left alone to find a new life. I was terrified and wondering why I had ever made the decision to come to Tennessee. It was out of my comfort zone. I was leaving behind the wonderful life I had built for the last 18 years. I was leaving everyone who loved me. Nothing about my decision made any sense. It seemed like the most imperfect plan. But I went with it. I unpacked my suitcases and said goodbye to my family. Nothing was worse.
This was God’s “perfect” plan and I was pretty convinced the outcome wouldn’t be worth the pain.
Like usual, I was wrong.
It was the turning point. I was halfway done with my college career, halfway to walking the stage and getting my diploma. I looked back and was reminded of all the pain, tears, and loneliness I experienced as a result of going to Tennessee. I looked back and was also reminded of all the treasures I had as a result of going to Tennessee. I made some amazing friendships that changed my life. My eyes were opened to the world around me. I learned to appreciate the differences in others. I learned to be friends with people different from me. I learned more about how to truly seek God and be in an intimate relationship with Him. I learned what my passion is behind my desire to be a teacher. I learned more about myself than I can process. I learned to appreciate all the things in life I had taken for granted before. I learned to truly depend on God because He was the only stable thing I had in my life.
Suddenly everything about my decision made sense. It was the most perfect plan.
The outcome was worth the pain.
This is only one of many times in my life where I have battled with God for control. Giving up control- it seems to be a lesson that I have to learn over and over the hard way. I have evaluated why I feel the need to have control and I have come up with one reason- I think I am right. When I make plans, I take into consideration all that I can see and all that I know. I think through every detail and every scenario. By the end of all the evaluation and processing, I am convinced that my plan makes the most sense and is the best one.
Not too long after coming up with my plan, something always seems to fall through causing my plan to come crashing down. It is in that moment, I am once again reminded of my insufficiency to plan my life.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
If only I could get that engrained in my mind and never forget it. His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. Although I would like to believe that I am always right and always know best – I don’t!
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13
This is just one more reason that we need God. While we wish we could see it all, we can’t. Our sight is limited to only a fraction of what is going on around us, and the only one who can see it all is God. Nothing is hidden from His sight. His vision is 20/20 while humans suffer from far from perfect vision. Our independent drive causes us to attempt to do life with this imperfection, but the minute we will recognize our imperfection and correct our vision by seeking God and His answers rather than our own, everything becomes more clear and enjoyable.
So you see, He does know best and this is why: He sees the past, present, and the future. While we are limited to only see one minute at a time, He looks at our life and sees a timeline of all that has happened, is happening, and will happen. He sees future opportunities and relationships that will come our way and He takes into account all of the obstacles that will stand in front of us. Everything in His plan lines up perfectly. He is all-knowing. With all of His knowledge, He is able to write up the perfect story for us. This is not true for our plans. We are limited to what we can see and understand because of our limitations of being human. We aren’t able to take into account what will happen in the future and how our desires will change. Our plans are always based off of what we know in the moment.
I love to shop. I love the feeling of piecing together a perfect outfit. I love wearing something that so clearly reflects who I am as a person. Good outfits though take hard work. If I have an occasion I need to go buy something for, I have a hard time committing to buying anything. I am always worried that I haven’t seen all of my options and therefore, my outfit won’t be the best it could be. In my dream world, I can see every option for an outfit so that I can pick the perfect ensemble to wear. Unfortunately, this is not possible. I am limited to seeing only a fraction of the clothes that exist and as a result, I am forced to settle for second best.
This is the story of my life. Because I am limited to what I can see I am always forced to settle for a creating a plan that is second best to God’s because I can’t see the best option out there. Only He can. In that case, it would make sense to give Him control of my life. If His plans are better than mine, it is all up to me to surrender my plans to His.
This is what happened with going to college. I couldn’t see far enough into the future to see the friendships I would make, the things I would learn, and the experiences I would have. Because of that, I wasn’t willing to have Tennessee be a part of my plan. My plan was based off of the things I could see and the things I already knew. In His perfect ways though, God got my attention and told me to go to Tennessee. He didn’t tell me all the blessings that would come from it. He didn’t tell me all the hardship that would come from it. He simply told me to go. To trust. To surrender. To give up control.
In doing this, I stepped into a world I would have been missing out on if I hadn’t trusted Him. I stepped into the unknown and trusted that He knew my desires and would take care of me.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11
The answer is simple. The answer is easy. It is all right there in Jeremiah 29:11. He knows the story of our life and it is one of trials. It is one of hurt. It is one of sadness. It is also one of joy. One of peace. One of triumph. One of love. His plan for us is perfect and in our best interest. He created it not only with all the knowledge in the world, but also with all of the love in the world. Each of His plans far exceeds anything we could dream up. Because of His sovereignty, His plans will always top our best plans.
The truth is easy. Give it up. Relinquish control and relish in the fact that instead of fretting over planning your future, you can put your feet up, relax, and seek His plan for your life. He wants to do the hard work by planning it out. You just get to sit down, buckle up, and go along for the ride.
So, give it up. Join me in the journey to give up something we think we so badly want- control. Instead, take the easy way out and just listen for His voice and follow the path He sets before you.
Our life is the game “Follow the Leader”. So jump right in and play. It is that easy.
About the Author
Hi! My name is Morgan Colander. I am a junior at Lee University in Tennessee studying to be an elementary teacher. I am attempting to survive these college years as I learn to rely more on God and less on myself while being surrounded by new opportunities and decisions. College has presented itself with its difficulties- college budget, college dorms, college food, an endless list of things to do, and plenty of homesickness- but through it all, I have never been more dependent on God and realized how incapable I am to do life without Him. God, family, and friends are all I need to survive in life but some junior mints, a hike up a mountain, laughter, and some sarcasm definitely add some joy to the journey.