Sunday, January 06, 2008

I thought I could

Today in Sunday school, our lesson was on "rendering unto Caesar". Yes, I've heard that lesson more than once, so I'll admit my mind wandered to some extent. However, I did come to my senses in time to hear this statement from the teacher: "If you have no control over it, it isn't your responsibility."

How deep. I had to sit there and think about that for a minute. There are some things we obviously have no control over (the weather, for instance), and others that are not as obvious (the actions of our children, spouses, significant others, or bosses). In this modern world, though, we try to assume control of those things. We're like the little engine that could: we think we can, we think we can, we think we can. We think we can change someone else's thinking. We think we can keep someone else from engaging in harmful actions. We think we can make people love us. We think we can make someone happy.

As Shel Silverstein once told us, sometimes thinking you can isn't enough. How true is that! If you're in a situation where something isn't going to suit you and you feel responsible, stop and take a step back. See if you have any control over what is happening. If you do, change what you can. If you don't, stop feeling guilty! It may not be your responsibility!

I had a rotten work situation a couple of years ago. I loved my profession (teaching), but I didn't like my job. It didn't seem that there was anything I could do that was right. I tried to do what I felt professionally was best for my particular students, but folks who supervised me had differing ideas of what should be done. The goals they put in place were impossible to be met with the resources available to me. I realized that and realized, just like Shel Silverstein said, thinking I could wasn't enough. I couldn't. No one could. Long story short, I turned in my resignation, (written in red crayon, by the way--at least addressed that way), and walked out of the job.

I miss teaching terribly at times, but I don't miss trying to attain the impossible. I couldn't do it, I had no control over it, it didn't need to be my responsibility any longer. I feel peace with the decision and joy over being in control of things that I can control.

Take a look at your world. 1. Do you have control over your situation? 2. Is there any way you can get control of the situation? (Here's a hint: if there are other adults involved doing things their way and discussing the matter with them hasn't helped, you probably don't have control.) If the answer to those questions is no, then stop making it be your responsibility. Stop taking the blame for it.

Think it over. You make be woman, you may be able to roar, but there are some things you can't do. You are NOT invincible. Stop discouraging yourself by trying to do the impossible. Give the problem to God--let Him deal with it. Guaranteed, it IS His problem, and He CAN control it. This doesn't mean He will--after all, we don't know what His plan is for the situation. But we DO know that His plan is better than ours.

Good night to all, and God bless.

1 comment:

Becca said...

It's funny that you mention this, but this is one of the lessons I've been working on this year, although I encountered it in relationship to work. In project management, it's referred to as span of control. There are three parts: What is within your span of control, what is outside your span of control but within your ability to influence, and what is outside of your span of control and ability to influence.

The idea is that for project success, you must directly drive those items within your span of control and influence, involve the people you need to help, and make sure that your success does not depend on any tasks that you cannot control or give advice on how to complete. If at any time your critical tasks are dependent completely on someone else, your chances of success are impacted.

Anyway, I've felt so lousy this year and so overwhelmed with personal projects, things I think I should complete, and other things that I want to change in general, I've been working on thinking about whether its in my hands or not, and if there's anything I can do about it. If not, then I focus my energy on learning how to deal with it. It's been very helpful when dealing with a mercurial three-year-old, that much is sure.