Have you ever known someone who suffered from a little infirmity I like to call, “controlloitis”? Yeah, you know the type: pushy, direct, and always ready with some ‘good advice’. After all, who doesn’t want to be in control? It’s the basic heart cry of most human beings, regardless of gender or age. Even kids are controlling; have you ever watched a group of kids get together? Inevitably there will be a power struggle over what game they will play, or who gets what toy. It’s basic human nature. We want what we want, and we want YOU to want what we want. We also want you to think like we think. Those of us who suffer from controllitis love to share our good advice- you should just take it, and be thankful for it; after all, we only want what is best for you! We honestly believe that if everyone just took our advice, the world would be a better place.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have caught myself thinking like this. I know at least a dozen other people in my life who would fit this description, it’s a common ailment. You may even suffer from controllitis. If we are really honest with ourselves, we probably all struggle with control in one way or another. Fortunately control isn’t always bad. We need to have some control over our children’s behavior, or over the chaos of a family and our household. We should have self-control, over our bodies, our thoughts, and our words. We sometimes need to control our emotions or our reactions. There are a lot of good reasons to use control, on ourselves, but then there is the tendency to become the dreaded control freak.
There are many ways that we or others tend to control. It’s good to identify the unhealthy ways that we might be trying to control others, or ways that people try to control us so we can stop the cycles of control. We can’t stop something if we don’t realize we are doing it, and we can’t create healthy boundaries with others if we don’t realize how and why they are controlling us.
We don’t always realize how much of an impact we can have on those closest to us, our children, our spouses, our friends, in so many ways. We set the tone in our homes, and our spouses and children learn to ‘read’ our moods in order to appease us. There is even a specific look that means *warning, warning* to everyone around us. We use intimidation and anger to get what we want, often without even thinking about it. We have probably all experienced, at one point in our life or another, a person who is known for intimidating others. Perhaps a parent, or a spouse who has an anger problem, and often we take the brunt of their anger. Having someone like this in your life causes you to react differently around them; you have accidentally set off their anger in the past, and you don’t want it to happen again, so you do everything you can to please them. Essentially, their anger ends up controlling your behavior.
We can do this, to others as well, especially to our family. If we react out of anger, getting out of control every time they do something we don’t like, we create in them an unhealthy fear of us. We retrain them to respond to our anger with forced obedience in order to ‘defuse’ us, or even hide and lie in order to avoid our anger. No one should feel forced to make you happy all of the time, and when that’s what they think they should be doing, their consistent ‘failure’ to make you happy creates in them a feeling that nothing they do will ever be good enough.
James 1:20 says that ‘Man’s anger does not promote the righteousness of God.’ Our anger doesn’t allow righteousness in us, and controls others, rather than allowing true obedience.
It is an imbalanced marriage if one spouse is muzzled by the other.
*This article is based on a sermon by Dianne Yandell