The Illusion of Control

Hey, have you ever watched the show Brain Games? It delves into cognitive science, focusing on illusions and psychological experiments. In a few of the episodes, it highlights how much of your observed environment the human brain excludes from conscious thought in the name of efficiency or protection. I’ve been mulling over this phrase and the more that I do I realize that our definition of control can keep us in an unsafe illusion.

Control is the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events. As a driver, I control the vehicle I drive. As a mom, I have the power to influence the direction of my sons’ lives. At work, I have control over my areas of responsibility. However, we know all too often that things happen outside the perimeter of our control. Sometimes life blindsides us. The unexpected happens and we are left grasping for the semblance of normalcy again. 

 For instance, true story… It’s 6:30 a.m. It is freezing outside and I’m in the morning zone with the boys. Coats, check. Boots, check. Hats, check. We get into the car, seatbelts on, car warm and I pull of out the driveway. By the looks of things, everything seems normal, I was in control of my day. Unknown to me a thin layer of ice was hiding on the road surface and for a second the car started to head into a direction I was not intending it to go. For those 2 seconds, I was not in control, the ice was. Very often, life lays that thin layer of ice and we do all we can to get back to safety.

I think with all the responsibility adulting lays on us we can get the false sense that every detail of our lives is up to us. It’s the illusion that we control it all. The illusion of control convinces me that my input and my effort will always lead exactly to my outcome. This can cause us to process life’s happenings incorrectly. We plan (as we should) but how many variables are truly ours to control? Can we as individuals’ control someone else’s choices, the global economy, or the weather? So how do I account for what I can’t control? What do I do when circumstances throw my plans through the window or splinter them into a thousand pieces? On the flip side, when grace and favor adds flavor to our efforts and throws doors open that you know would have been unlikely with your effort alone, who gets the glory? Do you attribute that to luck, is it just all you or is Christ lifted up?

I remember battling with thoughts of blame after my first husband died. I retraced our steps over and over trying to figuring out how I could have done something else. But I wasn’t in control when evil hatched a plan to break in. I did not pull the trigger. I remember when I was headed hunted for a job in a new industry at the point where I was considering leaving a company I worked with for a decade. Within the space of 6 months my income almost doubled. It was not just the new salary. A few months after I started wage negotiations in play a year before concluded and I was a blessed beneficiary. In retrospect I know God orchestrated it so that when I lost Chris the blow to my finances was significant but manageable.

So how do we process life without the illusion of control? We pray, we plan and we leave our hearts open to change. We must not hold so tightly to any possession, person, place or perspective that we are shattered when have to let it go. Jesus is the only constant in our changing world and our hope must be hidden in Him. We cling to Him for the answers we need and remain patient to hear His response, even when it takes longer than we think it should. (That last point was for me. Im working on it)

Write Fully Yours

Lady Kavan

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2 thoughts on “The Illusion of Control

  1. This resonated with me on several levels. I am in this season of my faith walk where I am constantly reminding myself who is REALLY in control and resolve to leave my concerns in HIS hands instead of making myself anxious. Thanks for sharing.


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