Thursday, January 12, 2012

Getting Control

"Everybody's got a date. Even you, Mario, going after Princess Peach. And what am I doing? I'm just enabling you."
Sheldon Cooper- The Big Bang Theory

As a child, I loved nintendo games. Being the second sister, I was always Luigi (or Daisy, in Super Mario 2). I would run my characters ragged from map to map, playing as long as I could before my mother would boot me from the living room back into the land of the living. I liked to play by myself, when I could play the characters without anyone question my decisions. I could choose to play the same level over and over again, or I could run through each level without stopping to hit the coin boxes, or I could spend the whole day just searching for Yoshi. I liked having the options that come with being in control.

All my life, I've heard people talking about wanting to be in control. They want the right to choose all the things that make up their lives- where they go to college, who they marry, what they do for work, how their family looks and operates, where they live, and all kinds of other things. We all get the urge to be able to hold our fate in our hands- we don't want the world dealing us cards- we want to control the deck. 

I... well I have been very guilty of wanting control. 

I think that we have this misguided notion that if we were in control, if we could choose how things were gonna happen, we would have a much better time of living. We seem to estimate that we would make all the right decisions if given the chance, and that if we can take our own life into our hands, we can somehow master happy living. 

But I'm not sure the real world agrees. 

I mean, if you think about it, plenty of people get into their dream colleges. Maybe they work hard in high school to get good grades. Maybe they volunteer for years to build a scholarship worthy essay. Maybe they stock and store and save the money to get to where they want to go. But do they stay there? According to a Washington Post article, 1 in 3 college students will transfer out of their first choice school. That's 33 out of everyone 100 people who chose incorrectly, whether it be because of the work load once they got there, the other students surrounding them, or bad choices they make while on campus that force them out. 

Maybe you've met the person who hasn't worked in ten years because they refuse any job that they don't feel let's them live up to their full job potential. Many of these people have skipped over entry level opportunities into the fields that interest them because they feel entitled to more. They have lived for a long time without insurance or pay because they want something that they haven't worked for- but furthermore, they think they are due it. If they were in control, they'd be working, but the choice that they've made in the real world is to wait for unconventionally high standards to come knock on their door.

Do I need to go into the marriage choices people make? Do you need the details of a how people get involved with others who don't match what they want because they think they can make them into the choice mate? Or how when the marriage gets difficult, Kim Kardashian makes a choice to just make an exit rather than fight for something because it wasn't the way she planned? Draw your own conclusions- I think I've said enough. 

My point is right here: sometimes we make bad choices. Often, we make choices that cause more problems than good for us. And if we were in control of our lives entirely, we would be likely to make disastrous situations for ourselves based on the feelings, emotions, and urges that already control what we have and what we think we want. 

And I think the boil down is  right there- control is only useful if you really know what you want. We have all these whims and desires, and over time, they change. Sometimes these lead to planning, but more often than not, they are surprises, and they take us to places we've never anticipated, to experiences we've never thought about, and to life changes that we didn't know we needed. These small mysteries (and the big ones) make life an adventure, a challenge, exciting. These uncontrollable circumstances can be the most miserable moments of our existence- but of course, that means that the flip side is that some of them can be the most incredible, mind-blowing pieces of our lives.

I believe that God is in control, even when I am not. I believe that He watches out for me, that He knows what will happen, and that He's there to help me through it whenever whatever is occurs. I believe that He sees, and knows, and if I'm willing to let Him, He will take me on whims I never could have foreseen myself in, but I am so glad I've gone through in the end. And every time I've asked for His guidance, I've come out better than ok.

Maybe you believe in something too. Maybe you're starting to notice that the world doesn't just work by chance, that life doesn't happen by accident, and that silver lining is more than just a grandmother's adage to serve with cookies and milk. And if you don't know what it is, and you think it might be something bigger, I'd encourage you to go find it. And of course, in case you didn't guess, I would encourage you to go find out if I might be right- if it might be God. 

Or maybe you're wondering why your still reading the blog of a girl who sees through Jesus colored lenses.

Whatever the case is, if you're at the point where your realizing that you don't get to control the universe, than I'd encourage you to go with it. Because it's what makes life surprising, intoxicating, and wonderful after a while. And it's going to happen with or without your consent, so you can hang onto the side yelling into the wind all the time, or you can get on and enjoy the ride. 

Even in Mario, I realize now, my choices were limited by the video game makers- they created the worlds that I was stuck in- they programed the enemies I was to encounter- they even gave me the friends and story lines I was going to have to follow. But I still found endless seasons of entertainment and fun and accomplishment. 

How much more can we get out of letting real life happen to us? 

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