20 March 2017

When God says you're too controlling (aka retreat reflections)

Yup God told me I am too controlling. #truestory


Last week I went on a 5 day silent retreat. I was going through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. They are typically done over 5, 8, or 30 days. If you've never done them I would highly, highly recommend it.

I was really excited but nervous and anxious at the same time. For a very type A, loud -mouthed extrovert, 5 days of silence was going to be "interesting".

It was hard at times for sure (like the hissy fit I threw when the priest asked for my phone #yupthathappened).

At the same time, I couldn't imagine a better time to do it than in the middle of Lent.


I've been on retreats before but never the spiritual exercises. And it was both spiritually and mentally exhausting as well as refreshing.

God really convicted my heart of several pet sins I have grown to easily accustomed to. I realized yet again how noisy and loud my life is. I experienced sorrow in my heart during one meditation when I just wept for all the things in my life that hurt my friendship with Jesus. I wept (a lot) over excuses I have made for myself.

And yes God told me I was too controlling in our relationship and my daily prayer life. 

One evening meditation I was given to pray with was Psalm 63. The very beginning of the Psalm starts off, "O God, You are my God." That part stopped me dead in my tracks.

I had to really sit with the fact God often is not God in my life, I try to be God. 

And throughout the week, this issue of my control issues kept coming up in my reflection and other Scripture passages I prayed with. It came up when I had a full on hissy fit when I gave up my phone. And later in the week when I received really disappointing news of not getting a job I so very much wanted; I realized I tried to control getting what I wanted to happen.

Throughout the week, I kept asking Jesus to show me where I am controlling with Him...what are the ways in life I am controlling? Ask and ye shall freaking receive!

That is the hardest, but most beautiful part of silence. You cannot run away from the truth that wells up inside you. You cannot run away from yourself or what God is whispering in your heart. You have to face your all your stuff head on, there is no way to escape it.

Friday morning I was driving to my last daily spiritual direction appointment. I was feeling really sorry for myself and still hurt and confused why I didn't get this job. 

I was driving along and asked Jesus out loud, "What are you trying to teach me with getting this news right now?" I sat in silence most of the ride, and in my heard heard, "You're not in control sweetie."
The image that came to mind as I heard those words deep down was Jesus just gently rubbing my head as He spoke to me.

You're not in control sweetie.

No I am not. I never have been. And maybe for the first time in my life I am realizing that.

And that is has been hard, exhausting, refreshing, and eye-opening all in one.


But that is the thing. God is always a gentleman. He never shames us. If we hear that voice of shame or condemnation creeping in, it is never Jesus but always Satan. #gobacktoHellwhereyoubelong !!!

These 5 days helped me become really honest and vulnerable with myself and more importantly God. 

I have a new, more refined perspective on some things in life. I will be on that journey till the day they put me in the ground.

But the beauty of this time away is I cannot un-learn what I have learned about myself or heard God speak to me.

I am learning how to really have open hands with God and not be grabby where I am so attached to what I want for my life.

That can be an awkward place to be. But for me right now, it is the best possible place to be.


Jesus, please help me to live my life with open hands. I want You to be God. I don't want to be God.
I want You to be in control over all.

Just help me to get out of Your way.



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3 comments:

  1. Oh this is beautiful, Patty. I wish I could sit down to tea with you and hear all about it. I'm so glad it was so fruitful. I've gotten so much out of Discernment of Spirits since I started listening to Fr. Gallagher' podcasts this past fall. I would just love to do a retreat sometime soon(ish). I've been doing the guided meditations too (so rich!) and my spiritual director mentioned that maybe God is is preparing me for a retreat. I'm sorry that the job didn't come through, but I'm so happy to know that God is telling and showing you that He is in control. Big hugs!

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  2. Oh wow, Patty, thank you for sharing this! This is so timely. I'm a bit of a recovering control freak, and I think I've come a long way, but your reflections are really hitting me with a "AnneMarie, you really need to work on this, this, and this." Especially timely because my husband and I are in the early process of house-hunting, and while I'm trying to be open to "whatever God wants," silly me is already getting stuck on what I want and what my will for our future is.

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  3. As a control freak seriously needing to let go and trust God today, thank you for this timely post. Holy Spirit at work through you <3

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