Now, I am not proud of this story. I hope you weren't there, because it wasn't pretty. I invite you to the scene for one purpose alone: to illustrate how being controlled calls to the surface our own desire for control.
It happened at a gas station. As I pumped my gas, I thought, "I could really use a Diet Coke." It's not often that I get a fountain drink when I stop for gas, but the sun was shining, the wind wasn't whipping me in the face, and the thought of walking into the building for a pop was inviting.
But the woman inside was not.
As I started filling my cup, she said, "Uh... excuse me. You can't do that."
I gave her the "who, me?" gesture, and she said, "Yes, you're not allowed to leave the pump unattended."
I finished filling my cup, and asked, "What? Why not?"
She informed me of the law, which is posted at the pumps, preventing patrons from leaving their cars unattended while gas is flowing.
I said, "What sign? I've never seen a sign."
But regardless of the signage, this woman was making me mad. I just wanted a Diet Coke.
So the Control Girl in me said, "And are you the sole enforcer of this law? Because over the past twenty-five years of pumping gas, no one has ever told me I couldn't walk in and buy a pop."
She said that yes, it was her job to make me obey the law. So I stubbornly took the Diet Coke, poured it down the pop dispenser, threw the cup in the trash and said, "I hope your manager knows that you take it upon yourself to chase people out of his store."
I was so furious when I got in the car (which was now fully fueled and ready to carry me far away from this evil gas station lady), that I decided to call her manager. What a horrible controlling woman she was! He needed to hear about my experience and set this woman straight. Maybe even fire her!
I googled the number and called. But when I asked for the manager, the voice that said, "I'm the manager," was strangely familiar.
It was the evil woman! I said, "You're the manager? The one who just chased me out of your store?" She said yes. So I said, "Well, you have just lost a customer for life. I will never return to your gas station or your pop machine again."
"What a horrible, controlling woman!" I thought. She needs to hear my Control Girl talk.
And then I realized: No, I need to hear it. Again.
I've been telling you that I'm a Control Girl! Believe me now?
Control is something I've been working on for several years now. And I've found that when I feel fresh anger begin to surface, it helps to ask myself, "Ok, Shannon. What are you trying to control, here?"
God is always faithful to show me my controlling heart and invite me back to surrender before him. (In this case, God wanted me to be humble about being corrected.)
But I'm learning that surrender is not just something I need to respond with, but also to buffer myself with. Before I enter the gas station. Before I get testy in a committee meeting. Before I walk into the messy kitchen. Before I get out of bed! I must surrender my heart and the details of my day to God.
Romans 12 tells Christians to make our lives a sacrifice to God, and renew our minds on a daily basis; To re-program ourselves to think like God does, so that we won't conform to the random controlling woman we bump into on the street. Romans 12 tells us that when we're surrendered to God, it will look like this:
- Outdo one another in showing honor.
- Live in harmony with one another.
- Do not be haughty.
- Never be wise in your own sight.
- Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the signt of all.
- If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
- Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.