The pressure to control your own life can be overwhelming. You're trying to get everything right. You hide the blemishes with literal and metaphorical filters. You control how you want to be seen by other people. You control how and when things will happen in your life. If you are anything like me, there are times when you want to control when God says yes and when he says no, what doors he opens, and the others he closes shut.
Just like a pressure washer, we try to use the water to wash off what we don't like. You only use a pressure washer to get something extremely clean. Like stains in concrete. We are just like the pressure washers. We are the ones in control washing off our blemishes, washing off the things about us that we don't want anyone to see. But in the process, we end up trying to wash off the very thing that God wants to use.
God has been doing work in me with two big things: control and identity. For me, the two go hand in hand.
My identity easily gets caught up in what I try to control. I try to control my body image by how much I eat or don't eat to maintain my "skinny" figure. I try to control the things I do (performance), so I can be "perfect." But now matter how hard I try to be in control, nothing seems to work. I'm still not satisfied with my body image or my performance. From there, I get angry at myself. Frustrated. Confused. Why can't I get it right? When will I get it right? Those questions lead me to a hopeless answer: I will never get it right.
When the pressure to control comes, we find ourselves overwhelmed and anxious. Why? We are taking on a job that isn't ours in the first place. God wants his job back. Time and time again, he invites us to give Him his title back. Psalm 55:22 invites us to "cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall." Control can be a burden. An unnecessary burden. You might have created a persona of who you want the world to think you are, but it only takes a few hits against that wall you've created for that to come tumbling down. But even in moments like that, Abba is still there waiting for us.
Now, yes, there are things we can control: what we eat, what we say, what we watch, listen to, etc. We do have control over those things. But ultimately, we don't have as much control as we would like to.
"So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27 NLT)
Genesis 1:27 repeats the phrase "he created" three times. Looking back to that scripture this week, I asked myself, "what's the need for that?" We get it. We say it all the time: I am created in the image of God! We hear it in church, on Instagram posts, in worship songs. But there is something about reading it in His word that's different. It wasn't just repeated for no reason; it was repeated to reinforce. This repetition of "he created" reminds me over and over and over again that Abba is the one who created me. And he created me in his image. So rather than trying to control everything and coming up short, I have to trust my Creator, knowing that I am made in his image. Me controlling my own image only means I'll end up in destruction. But, I'm not made in my own image. I'm made in his. How freeing is that!
You are not who you are because of your Instagram followers or the hundreds of reactions you received on your latest Facebook post. You also are not who you are for what you try to hide. You are who you are because God created you in his image. You are who you are because of Him, not what you try to control.
While it is freeing, this is a hard pill for me to swallow. Me? Not being in control? It drives me crazy. But it's a reality that I have to come to terms with if I want to walk into what God has for me. I did not create myself based upon what I have done, and I've done a lot in the 22 years I've been on Earth. He created me in his image to be a representation of him. He created me to be loved by him. To be a daughter.
Am I perfect? Absolutely not. But being in control, I tend to think that I am. Abba is teaching me that he has, was, and always will be in control. That's not a scary thing, but something for me to be excited about, for me to rest in. He's calling me to release the control I desperately desire to be the daughter that was created by a loving, holy, perfect Father.
But I can't walk into that identity if I am still trying to hold on to the identity I created. So today, I say that we go for it! Together. We release the control. We cast it down with no intention of picking it back up. And even if we do, cast it down again and again until we no longer desire. Let's become the sons and daughters that we are in our Father's stable hands, not our own fumbling hands. Only in his hands can we find rest from the pressure. Rest to be exactly what we are: image-bearers of God.