Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Choices and Control

Today I started a new book study. 

I have had the book for a while, sitting there on the shelf. I think God was just waiting for the right time for me to pick it up and start reading. Today I read the first two chapters and within those thirty three pages my heart was "poked" at least 4 to 5 times.

This book is meant for folks like me: those women who like to take charge and be in control of everything within their lives. Sometimes we get so good at controlling that we allow ourselves to venture over into territory that really isn't ours- it's God's.

Chapter one talked about some of the different faces of women who like to control....

1. The Yes Woman- A woman who always says yes when asked to do things, though it might be something that is inconvenient or that she doesn't really have time for... (OUCH, I felt that poke...) Why does she agree? Subconsciously, she agrees because she thinks that when it is her turn to ask for something, others will return the favor.

2. The Enabler- This woman goes around taking care of everyone else's problems.... The kids leave their homework at home, she will make a special run home to pick it up. Sometimes she even takes the blame for mistakes made by others. She tries to control what the world thinks about her family and those closest to her.

3. The Martyr- This woman will sometimes pout to get what she wants. If others see that her feelings are hurt, they will let her have her way- much like parents sometimes do with young children.

4. The People Pleaser- This woman is always doing what people want to make them happy. She tells people what they like to hear and may even change her mind about something simply to ease another person's feelings. (OH... did someone just tap me on the shoulder?)

I have known for a long time that I like to be in control of things. I don't like the way it feels when I give up that control. One of my best examples of this came several school years ago.

I have twenty nine years of experience within middle school classrooms- most of those were spent teaching English/Language Arts. Several years ago, the state of Kentucky decided that it was going to begin assessing arts and humanities. Yep- at the end of each school year, students would take a state assessment in reading, math, social studies, and...... art, music, dance, and drama.

Having a test which would be part of our accountability required a greater emphasis on teaching arts and humanities as well, so the administrators began tossing around ideas. One day I received word that they wanted ME to teach an arts and humanities class. WHAT? My certification may have allowed me to teach any subject grades 1 through 8, but I really didn't feel prepared. After all I could only remember one single art class and one single music class during my college years. What did I know about arts and humanities?

The next week or two were filled with many conversations..... and tears. I cried on my husband, I cried on the principal, I cried on the Superintendent, and I cried on any friend who cared enough to listen. What it came down to was this.... I didn't feel that I could do this job and I REALLY didn't want to.

Sometimes our wishes are not fulfilled and this was one of those cases. I received word that I was definitely going to be teaching humanities the next school year and I was told to make a list of items or materials that I felt were necessary. That summer was filled with lists, orders, and planning, but when school started I felt somewhat prepared.

For the next five or six school years I taught some form of a humanities class. Sometimes it was scheduled so that I kept the students for a class period all school year and other times it meant that I only saw a group for six weeks. What stayed constant through the whole thing was my dedication to the job and.... (Don't tell anyone...) my love of the job.

I remember taking students out into the hallway and lining them up in pairs to learn a simple box step, I remember the art showings of their creations, I remember watching musicals with them and talking about WHY musicals were still a valid way to depict a story, even in today's society. Most of all, I remember the yearly student musical that was presented after end-of-year testing was done.

We had three of them, each one complete with cd accompaniment and scripts. We rotated scripts each year, so students never saw the one in which they would actually perform. They did everything from costuming, to stage preparation, to acting and singing. They fussed and complained at the beginning; but, much like myself, when they finally gave up control and realized that it was going to happen, they really enjoyed it! It was one of the hardest things that I did all year, but it was also the most rewarding!

This was just one of the times in my life when I have been forced to give up control. It didn't feel good at the time. I went into it kicking, screaming, and crying..... I fought against it.... I tried to beg my way out of it. Nothing worked, yet when I finally relinquished control and accepted that it was going to happen, I found the whole experience to be one of the best in my teaching career. 

Sometimes I find myself trying to control things in my life that are really meant to be God's. There is an old saying... "Let go and Let God." I am one of those people who finds that difficult to do. I feel like I need to be constantly doing MY part to have things work out. Instead I need to trust in God to take care of whatever and just have HIS way..... That is why I am reading this book.

The subtitle on the cover says, "How to stop running the show and start walking in faith." That is what I want to do. If you too are a woman who likes to control perhaps you will want to get a copy of this book as well. I have only read 2 chapters and I can already tell you that I HIGHLY recommend it!

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