Thursday, June 09, 2016

The Illusion of Control

When I was in college one of my favorite new shows on TV at the time was Survivor.  Not only did I love seeing all the different places in the world the franchise videographers showcased so beautifully, I loved watching the interactions of so many different personalities attempt to work together for a common goal.  Sometimes they did that well, but often times, it was a total calamity.  We see with challenge after challenge, and day after day, differing personalities, compounded by incredibly tough living situations, limited food options, and poor or total lack of sleep really exposes the raw heart of each and every contestant, and more often than not, the picture is not very pretty.

Clearly, as it just completed its 31st season, Survivor is not longer a new show on TV. :)  I recently discovered many of the old seasons on Netflix and started watching it again, just for fun. One thing continues to jump out at me over and over again, and it has reached a point where I actually laugh every single time it happens.  In the private interviews done with every single one of the Survivors, over and over and over and OVER again you hear them make a comment to the effect of, "I am in total control of this game."  At any given point you may hear 2-3 different people make an almost identical comment, and every time I chuckle and roll my eyes, because as we watch the game, albeit edited and after the fact, one thing continues to be clear.  They are almost always about to have the rug pulled out from under them.  As is to be expected in a game called Survivor, who's sole purpose is for 1 of the 20 contestants to win $1,000,000 leaving the other 19 people with nothing, every single person there is looking out for themselves, and their position in the game is almost never as secure as they think.

As someone who has seen many a season of this game now, I would expect that as the years went on and the contestants saw more and more of the shows seasons unfold before them (making what I would expect to be a fairly safe assumption that the people who apply to be on the show are in fact super fans and have watched every single episode before going for the SOLE purpose of learning what has and has NOT worked for other people in the past), they themselves would be more cautious of speaking with such certainty into a camera.  Perhaps even more ideal would be not only they not say it, but that they not be so naive as to believe they are in that kind of control??  I mean, as a viewer I sit there and totally laugh, saying to my TV, how can you be that aloof??

But now we have arrived at a place where the truth begins to hurt, and in a moment that if it was to be captured cartoon style would be the stick figure with the bubbles appearing over her head, it occurred to me that while I was laughing at this blatant cluelessness on a TV show, the experience is actually one that I am totally guilty of as well.

All to often, when things are going my way; work, school, family life, social life, pick your x life, I begin to live as tho I am in control of my own life.  If people were to ask us, on camera or off, we would honestly say and believe, I am in control of this game (of life) right now.  We make decisions as if that were true, we set our expectations, both of ourselves and of others as if we have a plan, and we are incredibly frustrated when hiccups arise and wrinkle or all together toss out "our plans."  We were in control!  What the heck is happening to my plan?

Even as I write this post I feel like it sounds so arrogant, but I know deep down that if I am honest with myself, I live this way far more often than I'd like to be true.  When things are going my way, and life is happening on my terms, I get comfortable and begin to live and operate out of a false sense of being in control of my life.  I have a feeling many of you reading this can relate to this truth as well.

I am not sure if you are reading this blog with a church background or context or not.  For me, as a believer in Christ, I am grateful for the truth of Scripture, and for the many ways it points me back to my Creator when I find myself slipping into and operating out of a place of false security. Proverbs 16:9 is so clear that we can plan and plan and plan, but at the end of the day, God is the one in control of how the cards fall.  For a control freak such as myself, for most of my life to date, that has been incredibly hard to accept, and yet, every single time I got to the other side of the hard thing I did not choose, I have been able to look back and see the hand of my loving Heavenly Father holding me every step of the way.

In what ways can you relate to living with a false sense of being in control of your own life?  

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