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The Pain That Pushes Us to Try to Control

Photo by Civalias Kune on Unsplash

In my experience with women who feel they have to be in control of situations and other people, there is usually some level of trauma or hurt in her past. The level of trauma can vary. But usually something happened that caused her, as a young girl, to develop the following kind of thinking:

  • The people who are supposed to be in charge are weak. (Maybe they are incapable, absent, traumatized, or addicts.)
    • My parents can’t even take proper care of themselves. I have to be the adult and take care of them.
      • I have to be the savior for my parents.
    • My parents can’t/won’t take care of the household. I have to take care of it.
    • They are not able or willing to take proper care of me. So I have to take care of myself or no one else will meet my legitimate needs.
      • I have to be the savior for myself.
    • I have to protect my  younger siblings or something awful will happen (maybe something awful did happen, and I felt I should have been able to prevent it but I failed).
      • Our parents have failed my siblings.
      • My brothers and sisters need me.
      • I am the only one who can help them.
      • I am responsible for their lives, safety, and wellbeing. I am the parent now.
      • I have to be the savior for my siblings.
  • I am responsible for other people.
    • I am responsible for my parents.
    • I am responsible for my siblings.
    • I am responsible for other people in the world.
  • I have to take some of God’s sovereignty on my shoulders because if I don’t, everything will fall apart.
    • People who are in positions of authority in my life have failed me.
    • They seem wimpy and weak.
    • Everything is up to me.
    • It is my duty and responsibility to be sure things go right.
    • It would be irresponsible of me not to take care of other people because I am the only one who can.
    • I can’t be irresponsible and cause other people to suffer like I suffered.
    • I can’t be irresponsible and cause myself to suffer again.
    • Yes, this weight of responsibility for everything and everyone is way too much, but if I set it down, it will result in catastrophe like I have experienced before.
    • Stress, worry, anxiety, and bitterness are just the price I have to pay for having to be in charge. There is no way around those things. This is what love is.
    • I can’t trust anyone else. They will fail me.
    • People in positions of authority represent God to me, and so I have to conclude that God must also be weak, incapable, or absent.
    • I can’t really trust God.
    • I can only trust myself.
    • I have the wisdom that people need. Only I can help everyone.
    • I have to be the savior for everyone.
  • I am not secure financially, emotionally, relationally, or physically. 

Some Things That May Have Been Triggers:

  • Someone got hurt and she took full responsibility and believes it was completely her fault (even if it really wasn’t). She can’t forgive herself. She feels compelled to prevent something like that from ever happening again. She feels overly responsible for other people because of this.
  • Perhaps her dad was very passive or absent and her mom was completely in charge and had a controlling personality and being a controlling woman/wife/mom just seems “normal.”
  • She may have been the oldest child and was given, or felt she had to take, extra responsibility for her siblings and felt she had to act like a parent more than a sibling.
  • Her pastor or parents may have taught, or she may have misunderstood, that people’s free will is huge and God’s sovereignty is very small.
  • She may have heard that she is responsible for making sure people go to heaven or it will be her fault they end up in hell.
  • She may have witnessed some horrific tragedy or accident at school or somewhere else and blamed herself for not being able to stop it or for not being able to save everyone.
  • She may have been taught that God does not exist and she can only depend on herself.
  • She may have personality traits tend to lean toward being a fixer, doer, and in charge.
  • Her sinful nature is happy to help promote control and pride.
  • She may have bought some of the messages of radical feminism, even if she didn’t study it, just by absorbing it from our culture.
    • Women should be in charge.
    • Men are evil.
    • Women are goddesses and are always good.
    • Men are idiots.
    • Women are very wise.
    • God either doesn’t exist or He is a woman.
    • You can’t depend on the God of the Bible.
    • The Bible has no authority over our lives as women.
    • The Bible is not true.
    • The church has no authority over our lives.
    • No God-given authority in scripture has any right to guide, lead, or direct women.
    • Everything rests on your shoulders as a woman to take care of yourself.

The bottom line is this:

  • She believes she must make sure everything turns out okay and that it is her responsibility to do so.
  • She has a small, wimpy, or non-existent picture of God and a picture of herself as big, strong, and powerful.
  • Self is on the throne of her life, not God.
  • She is ensnared by pride and unbelief.

She develops some skewed thinking about God, others, relationships, and herself. That skewed thinking becomes the foundation of her understanding for how to relate in marriage and family later.

When someone’s core beliefs about God, other people, relationships, and themselves get skewed (and all of us experience this to some degree) – the only way to heal is for that person to be willing to examine these core beliefs against real truth. We must learn to take our thoughts captive for Christ. That is a scary thing. A painful thing – at first. But it is a necessary pain that leads to healing. Kind of like the pain of having a wound full of gangrene debrided. It is necessary to get rid of the toxins and the lethal infection. As we tear out the faulty foundations in our thinking, we can invite God to help us build all of our fixed beliefs about important topics on His Word and truth alone.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matt. 7:24-27

 

We all tend to develop wrong thinking as children. Then we build our lives on those messed up beliefs. But when we build on anything other than the truth of God’s Word, we are building on sinking sand. Things begin to collapse the farther we go along in life because the foundation of our belief system is faulty.

It takes great courage to be willing to examine our fixed beliefs and to question them. And to allow the Lord to show us His infinitely higher way of thinking. We have to tear out the old foundation and rebuild a new foundation for our belief system on Jesus and His Word. It is hard. But it is worth it.

As we do this, we have the incredible blessing and gift from the Lord of finding spiritual, emotional, and relational healing in Christ.

Next week we will dig further into the cure for a compulsion to control.

SHARE:

If you struggle with control, is there a specific event or situation in your past that you can link to this struggle? You are welcome to share with us.

Much love!

RELATED:

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced (My new book, The Peaceful Mom, will have a whole chapter on this issue with a chart of lies we tend to believe vs. the truth of God’s Word – the book releases March 27th, 2018).

Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships

Fear Fuels Our Need to Control

The Spiritual Healing That Is Available to Each of Us in Christ – by Radiant

25 Ways to Be a Safe Place for Your Husband Emotionally

Taking Our Thoughts Captive for Christ – VIDEO

Facing Our Deepest Fears

Experiencing God’s Victory over Fear

But I’m Right! I’m the Better Leader. I Should Be in Charge.

Why Won’t My Husband Lead?

My Husband Is Not a Good Enough Spiritual Leader

Ways Husbands Lead That Wives Often Don’t Notice

“I Need to Change! I Can’t Go on Like This!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This wife read a post for the first time on my blog – and has graciously allowed me to share her comment. I think a lot of us may be able to relate to this sister in Christ:

This post – “A Fellow Wife Begins a New Challenge – I’m Actually Going to Believe My Husband” – was very helpful for me as I was searching the web trying to fix my controlling behavior, and understand the negative behavior I practice daily with my husband and as a result, I believe with God, too.

I am not sure why, but I am very controlling, very questioning, slow to trust, doubtful that what my husband is telling me is true, and very snoopy.

I have recently reached out for help because I believe this behavior needs to stop ASAP but i am not sure where it comes from. My husband is generally a very trustworthy man.

I constantly:
– ask him who’s calling/why he doesn’t answer/why they are calling.
– ask him where he was if he was late.
– ask him why he does everything he does.
– check his Facebook and search history.
– act like a private investigator to his life, checking every search, every phone call, checking bank account every hour to see where he spends and then call and ask why he spent that.
– try to keep him from doing anything harmful, no matter what the cost – fighting, yelling, and screaming.
– FEAR him dying from lung cancer, or having wrinkles or bad teeth from smoking.
– give him a disgusting dirty look if he says a bad word.
– pout when he doesn’t spend time with me.
– drive by his friend’s house to see if he is where he said he would be.
– FEAR he finds another woman more attractive than me.
– ask him why he looked at every person he looked at.
– accuse him of staring at a girl too long.
– get very upset and not speak to him the whole night if I believe he looked at another woman.
– question him about everything!!

You get the point. It is a painful way to live. I do not want to live this way. I say I trust the Lord, but do I? Do I even trust him with my own husband who is a believer and loves the Lord?  My husband is His – so why do I try so hard to make him who I want him to be?

When I was with my last boyfriend, I did the same type of stuff compulsively. And I believe I have carried it into my marriage.

I am worried and want this to stop. I started thinking that since my husband is not jealous, and since he doesn’t try to look at all my stuff and since he clearly doesn’t obsess about what I am doing, or question me about anything – he must not love me as much or the same way I do him, for some reason I am associating jealous and unhealthy behavior to mean love. But then I meditated on these verses…

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:4-7

Every single thing in this passage describes my husband. It describes my God. It does not describe me.

I even started to wonder suspiciously why my husband forgives me so easily and so quickly?  Has he done something that if I find out about in the future he will need to make sure he stores up enough forgiveness toward me to make sure I forgive him? He must be doing something terrible or already done something (this is how awful my brain works…) I still can’t say that I fully believe that is a crazy statement and that its not true.

I believe I need to repent, and rely on God and pray He change me, but I feel I have done that before and nothing changes. Is there anything else I can do besides read blogs, books, and pray? I try to change so badly but what am I doing wrong 🙁 ?

I just hope someone can help me. I truly want to change. I really am hurting.

God bless you all.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I believe this wife is in the right place. I think of my online sites as a spiritual “ER” where the hurting, sick, and wounded can come to find healing in the arms of Christ and in the truth of His Word. There are TONS of posts here that I believe God can and will use to bless women – drawing them to Himself. If you are just beginning your journey, the posts at the top of my home page may be a good place to start. You may also search my home page for topics or search by category on the right hand column of my home page. 

I also have a Youtube channel, “April Cassidy,” with dozens of videos about topics related to living for Christ, becoming a godly woman, and becoming a godly wife/girlfriend.

If you need more detailed help or a more organized approach to this journey, my first book is releasing officially on January 27th! Amazon.com is already shipping it: The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord.  

I believe that this book is the closest thing to me personally mentoring wives. It might even be better, in some ways! The thing I love about books is that you can read and reread over and over again, take notes, stop and cry, stop and pray, and highlight things.  I personally had to re-read some books over and over – every day for months – earlier in my journey to really learn to let go of my old toxic ways of thinking and to embrace and solidify God’s truth in my heart.

take my readers through the beginning steps of this road and build the framework for God’s design for godly femininity, living for Christ, and becoming a godly wife. My prayer is that God might use me somehow to “put the dots closer” for those who come behind me than they were for me when I began this journey 7 years ago.

If you are getting frustrated, have questions, or need to talk about something – please comment! I’d love to do all I can to point you to Christ and to the healing available in Him for each of us. I try to be as available as I can here on the blog. My goal is to respond to every comment.

THE MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do is to spend time in God’s Word, at His feet, inviting His Spirit into our hearts and lives to change us. 

If you want to share what God is doing in your life, please comment, as well. 🙂

SHARE:

How did you feel when God first flipped the light switch for you in your heart like this? What helped you the most when God opened your eyes to how much He desired you to change? You are most welcome to share your story. Every woman’s (and man’s) story displays a unique facet of God’s love, power, mercy, and grace. He may use your story to greatly bless someone else and to build up and bless the Body of Christ.

Much love!

"I Need to Change! I Can't Go on Like This!"

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This wife read a post for the first time on my blog – and has graciously allowed me to share her comment. I think a lot of us may be able to relate to this sister in Christ:

This post – “A Fellow Wife Begins a New Challenge – I’m Actually Going to Believe My Husband” – was very helpful for me as I was searching the web trying to fix my controlling behavior, and understand the negative behavior I practice daily with my husband and as a result, I believe with God, too.

I am not sure why, but I am very controlling, very questioning, slow to trust, doubtful that what my husband is telling me is true, and very snoopy.

I have recently reached out for help because I believe this behavior needs to stop ASAP but i am not sure where it comes from. My husband is generally a very trustworthy man.

I constantly:
– ask him who’s calling/why he doesn’t answer/why they are calling.
– ask him where he was if he was late.
– ask him why he does everything he does.
– check his Facebook and search history.
– act like a private investigator to his life, checking every search, every phone call, checking bank account every hour to see where he spends and then call and ask why he spent that.
– try to keep him from doing anything harmful, no matter what the cost – fighting, yelling, and screaming.
– FEAR him dying from lung cancer, or having wrinkles or bad teeth from smoking.
– give him a disgusting dirty look if he says a bad word.
– pout when he doesn’t spend time with me.
– drive by his friend’s house to see if he is where he said he would be.
– FEAR he finds another woman more attractive than me.
– ask him why he looked at every person he looked at.
– accuse him of staring at a girl too long.
– get very upset and not speak to him the whole night if I believe he looked at another woman.
– question him about everything!!

You get the point. It is a painful way to live. I do not want to live this way. I say I trust the Lord, but do I? Do I even trust him with my own husband who is a believer and loves the Lord?  My husband is His – so why do I try so hard to make him who I want him to be?

When I was with my last boyfriend, I did the same type of stuff compulsively. And I believe I have carried it into my marriage.

I am worried and want this to stop. I started thinking that since my husband is not jealous, and since he doesn’t try to look at all my stuff and since he clearly doesn’t obsess about what I am doing, or question me about anything – he must not love me as much or the same way I do him, for some reason I am associating jealous and unhealthy behavior to mean love. But then I meditated on these verses…

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:4-7

Every single thing in this passage describes my husband. It describes my God. It does not describe me.

I even started to wonder suspiciously why my husband forgives me so easily and so quickly?  Has he done something that if I find out about in the future he will need to make sure he stores up enough forgiveness toward me to make sure I forgive him? He must be doing something terrible or already done something (this is how awful my brain works…) I still can’t say that I fully believe that is a crazy statement and that its not true.

I believe I need to repent, and rely on God and pray He change me, but I feel I have done that before and nothing changes. Is there anything else I can do besides read blogs, books, and pray? I try to change so badly but what am I doing wrong 🙁 ?

I just hope someone can help me. I truly want to change. I really am hurting.

God bless you all.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I believe this wife is in the right place. I think of my online sites as a spiritual “ER” where the hurting, sick, and wounded can come to find healing in the arms of Christ and in the truth of His Word. There are TONS of posts here that I believe God can and will use to bless women – drawing them to Himself. If you are just beginning your journey, the posts at the top of my home page may be a good place to start. You may also search my home page for topics or search by category on the right hand column of my home page. 

I also have a Youtube channel, “April Cassidy,” with dozens of videos about topics related to living for Christ, becoming a godly woman, and becoming a godly wife/girlfriend.

If you need more detailed help or a more organized approach to this journey, my first book is releasing officially on January 27th! Amazon.com is already shipping it: The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord.  

I believe that this book is the closest thing to me personally mentoring wives. It might even be better, in some ways! The thing I love about books is that you can read and reread over and over again, take notes, stop and cry, stop and pray, and highlight things.  I personally had to re-read some books over and over – every day for months – earlier in my journey to really learn to let go of my old toxic ways of thinking and to embrace and solidify God’s truth in my heart.

take my readers through the beginning steps of this road and build the framework for God’s design for godly femininity, living for Christ, and becoming a godly wife. My prayer is that God might use me somehow to “put the dots closer” for those who come behind me than they were for me when I began this journey 7 years ago.

If you are getting frustrated, have questions, or need to talk about something – please comment! I’d love to do all I can to point you to Christ and to the healing available in Him for each of us. I try to be as available as I can here on the blog. My goal is to respond to every comment.

THE MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do is to spend time in God’s Word, at His feet, inviting His Spirit into our hearts and lives to change us. 

If you want to share what God is doing in your life, please comment, as well. 🙂

SHARE:

How did you feel when God first flipped the light switch for you in your heart like this? What helped you the most when God opened your eyes to how much He desired you to change? You are most welcome to share your story. Every woman’s (and man’s) story displays a unique facet of God’s love, power, mercy, and grace. He may use your story to greatly bless someone else and to build up and bless the Body of Christ.

Much love!

A Wife Sees Some of Her Idols – People Pleasing and Beauty

An email from a wife.  Thank you for sharing!!!!!! I LOVE what God is doing in your heart!
********************
I watched two of your videos on Youtube  (channel “April Cassidy”)

Where do I start?????

I definitely identify with thinking it’s up to me make others happy and I expect others to make me happy. What a trap!! I can see I’ve been stuck in that little cage since I was like 4. YIKES

Those of us that come to Christ later in years are kinda like an art student that’s painted all her life – BUT THE WRONG WAY. You first have to unlearn all the wrong techniques and then re-learn the right way.

God has to remove all our wrong thinking, feeling and acting and then He can replace it with the right way.  (From Peacefulwife – I came to Christ at age 5, but STILL had to go through this exact same process because I had unknowingly swallowed so much poison from the world and our culture!)

Unfortunately it can get kind of confusing because you have the world telling you that your way of painting is good, the flesh is always thinking it’s Leonardo DeVinci and Satan loves when I paint in my own understanding!!!

So, I’ll be 51 in about a week, that’s a LOT of years being a people pleaser. I’ve known for a while that I struggle with this, but that whole being happy in others and vice versa. That’s HARD. It seems so innocent and not bad???

God does not want us to be happy, but be holy. Not that we can’t be happy, but the world’s idea of happy is SOO not God’s idea.

April, I have created sooo many idols JUST out of the people pleaser thing… it spills over into my dress, the whole being modest thing.

When you’re NOT IN CHRIST, it seems GOOD to have men give you attention because you look hot. Now I realize that is degrading, but at one time I felt pretty good, well, I even felt powerful having guys slobber all over themselves because of me. Now, I see that’s just cheap.

My pastor said God made women to want to be pretty: FOR THEIR HUSBANDS. Satan twists and perverts that God given desire into something ugly and destructive.
Age has chipped away at that idol. I memorized: We admire the strength (or beauty) of youth but respect the gray hair of age. This verse has helped me tremendously BUT, I am just now realizing that my youthful beauty was wrapped up in idolatry. Me being the idol….okay, so I just got REALLY really honest there.
I did it because I found out at age 6 that my little friends would be nice to me BASED on my looks. I tried in vain to be nice, sweet, cooperative…but still my friends would be unkind. Then one day some older girls oohed and aahed over how pretty I was. After that my mean little friends were nice to me. I started noticing how all the pretty girls were treated nicely by the teachers, boys and other girls (if they weren’t jealous…then they’d be mean). Anyway, I was NEVER that pretty, just that non-threatening kinda pretty.

I learned to “work it” in high school by doing my hair make up and wearing clothing that showed my youthful body off. Nothing too skanky but the idea was there…

In my 30’s I started teaching fitness classes and my body got nice and toned. I received a lot of respect and a little admiration for how I looked. It was so normal I didn’t think about it much, just was happy how I looked, and yes… spent a lot of time tanning and exercising.

Then in my 40’s my health took a real nose dive and out the door went the tanning and the exercising. Too funny. I’m 50 and sporting a belly. HAHA.

I watch my daughter follow in my footsteps and it makes me sad. She is a gorgeous 30 year old who gets attention for her beauty. She dresses much more modestly than I ever did, but still….I see the strut, I see the look in her eyes when she knows she looks good.  I wish I could go back in time and have found you when she was only a teenager. That she would want to dress modest and attract a guy that would REALLY value her heart for God.

I need to chew on the idea that this is a super idol for me. I kind of knew it was, but the extent seems pretty huge.

How do you think the respect of age ties into the admiration of youth and beauty? Can that become just another idol? Like switching one for another? How do you avoid doing that?

God has given you GREAT wisdom to be mindful of the idol thing. Maybe that is something us women struggle with. Making idols of so many different things. I can relate, that’s for sure. Beauty, being good, food, friends, even church!!

I’m glad God doesn’t let us hang onto our idols. He took mine away with age. But I see the danger of trading it for something else. And I don’t want to make an idol out of being modest….sheesh that would be just like me LOL!
FROM PEACEFULWIFE:
Yes, our human hearts are idol factories!  We all are able to constantly invent things to idolize if we are not carefully watching our motives and immediately repenting to Christ.  And there is definitely a danger in trading one idol for another.  It is absolutely possible to make an idol out of respect and biblical submission – thinking you can control your husband that way and get what you want, apart from trusting Christ.  It is also very possible to make modesty an idol.  Or to make not wearing makeup an idol – or a way of being legalistic and keeping score.
The key always is – what are my motives?
  • Why do I want to make this person happy?  Is is so that I can avoid conflict, or is it so that I can please God?
  • Why do I want to wear this outfit? Is it to draw attention to my body, or is it to draw attention to Christ?
  • Why do I want to dress modestly?  Is it out of reverence for Christ, or is it so that I can feel like I am “earning” favor with God, or so that I can look down on other people who aren’t dressing modestly?
  • Why do I want to not wear make-up?  Is it about true humility, or is it a way for me to feel superior to others?
  • Why do I want to wear make-up?  Is it to attract the attention of men, or to look my best for my husband and honor him?

So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time–before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due. I Corinthians 4:5

If my motive is anything other than pleasing, honoring, trusting and loving Christ – I have a big problem!
If I am putting something in that primary spot in my life – the place where Jesus alone is worthy to sit on the throne in my heart – that is idolatry.  If I think “I HAVE TO HAVE THIS THING/PERSON!!!!  I MUST HAVE IT TO BE HAPPY!!!!”  And it is not Christ – I am dealing with an idol.  If I am making my identity all about something that is not Christ, it is probably an idol.  If I am REALLY afraid of something happening, and I spend tons of time and energy trying to prevent something – the opposite of my fear is probably an idol.
Even sin can become an idol.  Bitterness can be an idol.  I may cherish my bitterness more than my intimacy with Christ and refuse to forgive.  Practically anything can be an idol in our human hearts.
Idols must be torn out by the root and replaced with Jesus alone.  I must die to myself and my desires, my wisdom, my plans, my expectations, my rights… and live for Christ!  Then I desire His wisdom, His plans, His holiness, His will and His greatest glory.  946930_36154604
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