The Mask of Control
Today we continue on in our series of growing in authentic confidence. We are taking a look at the first mask, the mask of control. You’ll notice that this mask is very similar to wearing the mask of perfection, but it has some differences. We will look at perfection in a different post.
The mask of control, gets put in place when we fear the unknown. In this situation, the mask can take on several different kinds of characteristics.
One way to recognize this mask is if you ever act as though you are not interested in something. In this situation, you aren’t sure what an experience is like, so you pretend that it doesn’t interest you. That way, you don’t have to put yourself out there and worry about failing or looking bad or not being good enough.
Another way it can come across is by faking your way out of an experience. For instance, I remember when I was in ninth grade, and every year, the ninth grade class went for a weeklong trip to a camp. It sounded fun and exciting, yet, it also held a lot of unknown variables. I was very nervous about what to expect and about being in a situation that I wouldn’t be able to control. I had a lot of worries about sleeping in a room full of my classmates and being made fun of if I snored or if my pajamas weren’t cool. A lot of my fears were based on “what if” situations that may or may not happen. As a result, I pretended to be “sick” and stayed home for the week instead of going. I may have felt I had more control over my life by being at home, but I missed out on a lot of fun and bonding time with my classmates.
You’ll notice that fear and anxiety are running the show in these scenarios. The anxiety is about being out of control and having expectations that we may experience something that we won’t be able to cope with. If you find yourself thinking about “what if” scenarios a lot, this might be a mask you struggle with.
The silly thing is that we never have real control over anything; we just trick ourselves into believing that we do. We get into a place where we try to be in control of all of the arrangements for things, we make plans to take care of all aspects, and if there is something that we can’t control, we either work really hard to find a way to try to control it, or look for ways to get out of it.
We don’t have real control of anything!
Even when we make all the plans and arrangements, we can’t control when things go differently then we planned. Things like getting sick, the weather, other people’s actions, or traffic can all make the best laid plans fall apart.In order to stop wearing the mask of control, we need to get to a place of acceptance and trust. Click To Tweet
Acceptance that we can’t control most things, and trust that God is in control.
Let me share with you a story that can help illustrate this a little bit. I had the desire to run a marathon before I turned 40. I looked up a training plan and picked out a race. As a family, we decided to combine the race with a family vacation, so I picked the Walt Disney World Marathon in January and we combined it with a vacation to Disney.
Over the course of several months I followed my training plan as best as I could. Now, I live in Michigan, and the weather in the fall and winter is unpredictable. I had a lot of fears about being able to get my runs in due to possible bad weather. I figured I could do most of my shorter runs on the treadmill if I had to, but I really wanted to be able to do all of my long runs outside. I prayed that God would grant me good weather for those days, and he did. Every time I had to run anywhere from 15 – 25 miles, I had great weather.
Three weeks before the race, I was able to run 26 miles outside as my last long training run. In Michigan, that happened to be in 26 degree weather. I felt great and prepared for my race. The next thing I did was to pray for health so that I wouldn’t get sick! This was another worry that I had and another thing that I couldn’t control. God granted me that prayer as well and I remained healthy the whole time and through the trip.
Race day came. I barely slept a wink. I got up at 2:45 and had my oatmeal. I packed my bag of provisions and my husband and I boarded the bus that would take us to the start of the race. After being dropped off, I completed some of the necessary preparation steps, said my good-byes to Chris and walked toward the starting corrals. Then, I waited for a long time.
The race officially started at 5:30 AM; however, due to the huge amount of others running the race, I didn’t actually cross the starting line until 6:00 AM. Then, there was a lot of jockeying around others and I found myself zigzagging a lot. After doing this for awhile, I realized that I was probably adding a lot of extra distance to my race, and I stopped doing it. The next thing that happened was that the temperature started to rise, and it kept rising. My body was not ready for this, having come from Michigan where I was used to having below freezing temperatures.
In the end, I ended up walking a lot of the last six miles of my race, and my time was almost an hour longer then just three weeks ago when I had run the same distance in Michigan. I had followed a training plan. I had put in the miles. I was given beautiful days for running my training runs. I was feeling good and healthy. Yet, on race day, I didn’t make my time goal because other factors that were out of my control occurred. I ended up still feeling elated for my accomplishment and walked on clouds for a week afterwards. I accepted the fact that things didn’t happen how I had planned. I had a great time and still felt great that I did it.
Had I given in to the fear of the unknown and the need to be in control, I would not have had that incredible experience or have earned the bragging rights that I did! I was in a place of acceptance that God was in control of the whole process and that I needed to trust him. So, unlike in ninth grade where I let my fears of the unknown and my need to be in control keep me from participating and experiencing fun and new things, this time, I didn’t let it, and I can honestly say that it was an experience of a lifetime.
Can you see how this mask zaps our confidence and authenticity?Our need for control can keep us from confidently living the life we were created for. Click To Tweet
I had a dream to run a marathon, but if I had let my fear of the unknown and my need to be in control rule me in this situation, I probably would never have signed up for it in the first place. That would have kept me from being authentically me. I would not have done what I had dreamed of doing.
Do you see how when my focus was on myself in 9th grade, the mask was tightly in place and kept me from experiencing life abundantly? Yet, when my focus was in depending and trusting God during my training for the marathon, I experienced richness in my life even when the outcome was different then my expectaions. The same can be true for you too!
Have you ever worn this mask? What does it look like when you wear it? What steps do you need to take in order to begin removing it? Do you need to practice more acceptance and trust? Let today be the day that you begin to let go and live in more confidence and authenticity even when you are facing the unknown, because your focus is on Jesus, your trust is in him and your confidence comes from him!
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