Have you ever felt you were in limbo or at the mercy of a challenging person or situation? Have you felt like life was out of control’?
Probably most of us, at one time or another, have encountered the feeling that some circumstances in our lives are out of our control. We may face financial problems, be hampered by lack of education, challenged by unhealthy or abusive relationships at home or at work, or have lived with serious illness or unemployment.
Each age and stage of life presents its own challenges. Even children feel vulnerable as they strive to meet the expectations and keep up with activities of the adults in their lives.
Our sense of self-worth often rides on our ability to cope with these limitations, challenges and uncertainties.
Many people who live and work in agricultural communities have a livelihood that is based on issues well beyond their control. Farmers’ profit margins are determined by others. They have little control over the price of grain, livestock and other products — and no control over the weather. These weigh heavily on farm families as they strive to make ends meet.
How do we gain some control in situations that seem unmanageable?
- Take a step back and look at all aspects of your life. Remember that life is 10 percent reality and 90 percent how we choose to look at it. Make decisions and take control of as many areas as you can, no matter how small.
- Realizing that you can’t control other people’s behavior, you can control how you react to them, and in some cases how much time is spent with them.
- Give children a sense of self-worth by letting them make some choices in their daily lives. This helps build confidence.
- Break big problems into smaller pieces. Work on these smaller pieces one at a time.
- Pray for God’s guidance, wisdom and will for your life. God listens.
- Don’t isolate yourself. Find support.
- Don’t become too attached to your routine. Be open to new ways of doing things.
How can congregations help?
- Give sermon illustrations that reflect challenges that are common to people in your congregation and community.
- Remind people of God’s presence in every circumstance of life. God is there even when we feel lost or confused or frustrated. Pray for those who are seeking direction in life.
- Establish small groups for support. In rural areas, this could be groups for farmers and for their spouses. In a place where jobs are dwindling, this group could be for those seeking employment.
- Include real and relevant topics or speakers in your adult education forums that will enrich faith in your daily context.
- Be mindful of people who may be vulnerable to specific circumstances. Find practical ways to uphold their integrity and share their burdens.
- Look at the membership of your congregation. Are there people who feel like they have no input in the life of the church? Is there a perception of an “inner circle”? Give people of all ages ongoing entry points for leadership and involvement.
Amid the sometimes chaotic circumstances of our lives, we need to be grounded in God’s grace. God has entrusted us with making decisions about certain aspects of our lives, but ultimately God is in control.