by Teddi Neevel
I would like for each of you to take a few minutes and really think about that question. Then I would like for you to get a paper and pen and be prepared to take a little quiz. I’m not grading the test and I promise you, you don’t have to turn in the papers.
Frequently, one of the primary character traits of an abuse survivor is an over-whelming need to be in control. Is abuse the only cause of control issues? No, of course not. Some people have learned to control others because of their occupation, (police, military, etc.) other people learn to be controlling with no conscious thought.
Did you ever think as a child, “When I’m a mom I’ll never say that to my kids,” only to later hear your mother speaking from your mouth when you are the parent? That is a learned behavior without deliberate intention. If one of your parents was a very controlling person you may have learned their methods without even thinking about it.
Here are the quiz questions.
- If someone else sweeps your floor, do you feel you are a bad housekeeper?
- When was the last time you asked your spouse what he or she planned to do on their day off without handing them a “Honey do” list?
- Do you make a daily or weekly list (even mentally) of things that must be done?
- If someone folds your towels “wrong” do you have to refold them?
- If you spouse or child says, “It would be a good day to go to the park.” Do you reply, “Let’s go.” Or do you check your list or refuse because a trip to the park isn’t on your schedule?
- When you and your spouse are discussing plans and goals for your family, do you ever start the discussion without having already made up your mind what should be done and how?
- When was the last time you asked your mate or children what they wanted to do for vacation and then just did what they wanted?
- Do you and your spouse have discussions about him or her driving “your” car?
- Have you ever had money left after bill paying that you just handed to your spouse without suggesting how it should be used or questioning later how it was spent?
- If every item on your list doesn’t get done do you get frustrated and consider yourself a failure?
I think I can hear a rumble in the reading audience now. Yes, I hear squeals of protest. “You don’t understand, if I don’t take charge nothing will get done.” “I want him to be the head of the family but he won’t make decisions.” “He never learned how to manage money.” “He doesn’t see the long-range goals.” “He wants me to handle things.” “I need to be organized for my peace of mind.” “If I don’t write lists, things don’t get done.” Please, don’t stop reading now.
Let’s take some time to consider some things about these questions.
- If someone else sweeps your floor, (or does any chore) they may be an individual that just needs to stay busy. They may care about you and want to be a blessing to you. They may feel you are overwhelmed with things that “you” must do and know this is something they can do to make your life a little bit easier. Mark 9:41 says, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.”
- Your spouse is not your child. It is very important that adults have free time to restore themselves. Your free time may be spent reading, doing needlework, fishing, golfing or something else. It is likely that your spouse would choose to use their free time differently. They are not wrong or wasting time…they just aren’t you. Genesis 2:2 says, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”
- Lists are tools. Use them wisely. Some people need lists to help them be organized but there are things that don’t need to be on a list. As an example, everyone knows that groceries must be purchased and for most people a grocery list is a good idea. However, putting ‘go shopping’ on a chore list is not needed. At that point the list is no longer a tool; it has taken over control of your life. That list has every segment of your day or week accounted for with no room for God to use you spontaneously. Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”
- There are some things in life that can only be done correctly one way. Some things must be done exactly the same way every time — sometimes because the Bible tells us, sometimes for product result, sometimes for safety, and sometimes for crowd control. Most of the chores in our lives we do in the way we learned or the way we have become comfortable doing the job. However, other family members can do things their own way. Let me quote my dear friend, Cloy, who says, “The way you do something is not ‘the right way’, it is just your way.” The method of doing a job is not nearly as important as the intent of the heart. Ecclesiastes 9:9-10 says, “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”
- Sometimes stepping away from your list is the most spiritual thing you can do for your family. Jude 1:22 says, “And of some have compassion, making a difference:”
- An individual who has already made up his mind, isn’t having a discussion…he is trying to be the boss. A spouse that never has an opinion has probably learned it is easier to do it your way than to fight about it. These people will be complacent and go along with almost anything to avoid daily confrontations. In fact, they choose their battles very carefully. Couples need to have a free flow of ideas to grow strong marriages. Some of us have strong logic skills and others are impulsive or emotional. By discussing things with open minds we use each other’s strengths to build homes and families. In sharing ideas we allow the Holy Spirit to flow through us. Isaish 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”
- Love reaches past personal wants, while control is stuck on doing what “I” want or think. Romans 12:10 says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;”
- In every strong marriage I have ever seen, possessions are all “ours.” Instead of “my house” it’s our home. “My car” becomes whatever model or color car. God ordained one flesh and a unity that needs to over-ride self. Leaving your parent’s home allows you as a couple to establish your home. This is a joint endeavor not a way for one person to stockpile possessions. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
- Financial freedom — not being accountable to another adult for every cent — says, “I trust you to do what is right for us.” Have you ever asked your spouse what their dream for the two of you is for ten years from now? You may be surprised to find your mate has dreams and goals, too. Proverbs 6:6-8 says, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.”
- God has established order and I am not trying to say that disorder is acceptable. 1Corinthians 14:40 says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” However, godly order allows time for the Holy Spirit to use you. In most homes the floor doesn’t need to be vacuumed every day, but the dishes need to be washed. The lawn needs to be mowed but it doesn’t have to be edged. A few minutes a day on your knees weeding flower beds is great daily prayer time and double use of your time. Cutting some of those flowers and delivering them to an elderly friend on your way to run errands is a bonus. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”
- People often quote parts of Bible verses such as, “Money is the root of all evil.” (1Timothy 6:10), “All things work together for good.” (Romans 8:28 ) “I can do all things.” (Phillipians 4:13) Sadly, many Christians have the habit of parroting scripture verses or parts of verses without really taking time to see if we are allowing God to apply the scalpel of the Holy Spirit to our hearts. We don’t want God to hold a segment of our life under the microscope of His word and urge us to give Him permission to operate. You see, each of us has in some ways become comfortable with who we are or the way we do things. Recovering from surgery is uncomfortable, but it is necessary for our spiritual health.
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me,
and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”
God has control of the number of days we will live on this earth. We cannot add to the number of our days, but we can live our lives so each day will glorify God. We must allow the Holy Spirit to be in control.