Letting Go of Control

by Christy Cochran

Growing up, I looked like a perfect little Christian child. I attended church, was kind to everyone I met, never fought with my parents, and made perfect grades. I was an overachiever and excelled in whatever I put my mind to. God occupied his little corner of my life; I read my Bible and prayed every day. However, the focus of my life never centered on him. Instead, I found my self-worth in my achievements rather than in God.

One of the worst ways this mindset manifested was in an eating disorder throughout my early teenage years. I determined that I needed to lose weight to be beautiful. My self-worth and happiness were determined by my weight on the scale and how I perceived myself in the mirror, and soon thoughts of diet and weight loss consumed me.

I kept this sort of tight control in every area of my life that mattered to me. In my earlier years, my happiness was determined by my performance in figure skating competitions and my ability as a flutist. As I grew older, my anxiety shifted to grades, ACT scores, and college plans.

Unable to live up to my own expectations, I cycled through times of self-hatred, depression, stress, and anxiety, trying in vain to escape my thoughts through YouTube and Netflix. I never felt stable about who I was. One comment from a teacher or one result from an ACT test could make or break me.

During my senior year of high school, my body could not take these high levels of stress anymore, and I developed irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive problems. I went through long periods of weakness and pain where I could not exit the house. Some days I could not even stand up without falling over.

Through my sickness, God showed me the end of my strength, and I became desperate for the power of God to be at work in my life. I saw that I was not leading a life which God could work through effectively. Even when I tried to obey God and participate in the work of the kingdom, I failed. I did not have ability to do the things I knew God wanted me to do.

So, I set aside this past summer to seek God. One night, as I was crying out to God, he showed me that I must make a choice. I could either maintain the control I had on my life, relying on my own strength to accomplish my goals. Or I could give up this control to God, and submit my life to his plans. This was a hard choice to make as I would have to give up these things I had been striving for, but I chose God because I trusted that God knows what is best for me better than I do.

Since that night, my burden has been lifted. I no longer have to strive to be perfect because God promises that he will teach me according to his wisdom. I do not have to strive to secure my future because I know God will provide for me. I have learned that God wants to strengthen me, and I must be faithful to meet with him every day. Otherwise, I am easily overtaken by doubts and temptations. He has also filled me with a greater measure of the Holy Spirit and shown me the freedom, peace and joy that is so abundant in his kingdom. I am so excited now to do the things God has called me to do. Praise the Lord for what he has done!