We have a box on our employment application at the Charlotte Rescue Mission that says, “Do you have control issues?” If you check “yes”, your application is automatically approved. If not, good luck on your job search.
If you grew up in an addictive family of origin, you learn to adapt to an out of control or dangerous situation. Addictions are more than alcohol and drugs. They include work, food, sex, gambling, power, spending, rage and religion (which is not a relationship to Christ). Growing up with a rageaholic father, I learned to get in front of him to minimize those situations when he got angry. I learned to control my environment to lessen the risk of chaos when he acted out. I was good at it. But those skills learned in my youth don’t work in adulthood.
Over the last two decades, I worked hard on letting go. I’ve learned there are multiple ways of doing things, not just my way. I’ve learned that excellence, not perfection, is God’s plan for me. What does this have to do with a carwash?
Each year, I have my car inspected by someone who operates the carwash adjacent to the inspection center. He gives me a free car wash. I drive to the gate, punch in the code and get ready to have my car cleaned. Here is where I got in trouble.
The operator didn’t leave a lot of space between me and the car in front of me. We were on a conveyor belt so I couldn’t slow down to give more space between him and me. That got me nervous.
The operator told me to put the car in neutral and take my foot of the brake. Then he put a big truck on the conveyor belt right behind me. I couldn’t move up or change lanes because we were on a conveyor belt. Now I have a car in front of me and a truck behind me.
No, I didn’t do what you’re thinking I did. I did not put my foot on the brake. There came the moment when the windshield and rear window were covered in soap. I couldn’t see in front of or behind me. Because I have control issues, I wanted to turn on the windshield wipers to be able to see. They would have been snapped off. I am traveling through a tunnel of soap, unable to see the car in front of me or the truck behind me.
I got to the rinse zone and realized I was about to arrive at the point where the light flashes “Go.” You put the car in drive and hit the gas. What happens if the car in front of me doesn’t move fast enough? I have a big truck behind me. How do I explain to my insurance company that my car got crushed in the car wash? (You can tell I’m Italian – lots of drama.)
None of that occurred. The car in front moved quickly and I moved my car forward at the end of the car wash. No insurance papers were shared between the three of us.
Control is an illusion. We think if we can control the universe, we can eliminate pain. Yet it’s in the struggles of life that we grow. We don’t grow on the mountain tops. We grow in the valley when life is challenging, and I have to “let go and let God.” It’s the difficult times that God uses to conform me to the image of His Son.
As we celebrate our freedom, let’s be free from the illusion of control.
I’ll be back soon. Until then, live well my friend.
The Rev. Tony Marciano is the president/CEO of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. He is available to speak to your group. Go to www.charlotterescuemission.org and go to contact us.