It's All Under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible

It's All Under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible

by Jennifer Dukes Lee

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Overview

“It’s All Under Control is the gift your soul has been desperately seeking—to feel how His arms of love are under you, carrying you though it all.” —Ann Voskamp, New York Times bestselling author of The Broken Way and The Greatest Gift

It’s time to get our control under control.
Jennifer Dukes Lee never thought she struggled with control. As long as everything went exactly the way she wanted it to, she was totally flexible.

But then Jennifer discovered what happens when you try to wrap your arms around everything, thinking it’s all on you: You get burned out on hustle. You toss and turn more at night, and you laugh less during the day. You’re so busy—caring, serving, working, and trying so hard—that you can’t even hear God’s voice anymore.

It’s All Under Control is a book for every woman who is hanging on tight and trying to get each day right—yet finding that life often feels out of control and chaotic. Join Jennifer on the journey of learning how to:

  • Overcome the anxieties and worries that burden your heart
  • Prioritize your busy life so you can make choices that align with God’s best for you
  • Find freedom through a new “Do, Delegate, or Dismiss” approach to your daily tasks
  • Let go of what God has not asked you to do, so you can shine at what he has
Discover a new way of living that will free you to be you, and finally experience the peace of knowing a God who truly has it all under control.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496430472
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 09/18/2018
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 70,913
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x (h) x 8.25(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Dukes Lee is the author of The Happiness Dare and Love Idol. She is a popular blagger, a writer for DaySpring's (in) courage and a speaker at women's conferences across the United States. Jennifer and her husband live on the family farm in Towa, where they raise crops, pigs and two beautiful humans. She's a big fan of dark chocolate emojis, eighties music, bright lipstick, and Netflix binges. She wants to live life in such a way that you can't help but want more of Jesus.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Invitation

The Help Your Weary Soul Longs For

* * *

If you asked me five years ago, I naively would have told you that I didn't struggle with control. I would have said that I was a fully surrendered disciple of Christ. I mean, seriously — as long as everything went exactly the way I wanted it to, I was totally flexible.

I didn't intend to manipulate God by engaging in the most futile act known to humankind: trying to control one's life trajectory. And it's not that I wanted to control other people either. (Okay, so I might have been that take-charge kid in your high school class who led all the group projects and told you what to do — then resented everyone for not pulling their weight.)

Mostly, I wanted to control myself. If I ever had high expectations of anyone, it was of me. I wanted to present the self-assured, together version of my whole being. Which means I craved control over my face, my emotions, my body, my food, my words, my house, my schedule, my yard, my future.

My preference was a tidy, predictable, safe life where no one got hurt, where my kids remained in one piece, where there was no pain for anyone ever again, amen. My appetite for painlessness had me constantly minding the store. I hung on tight, so I could get life right.

Yet those old systems of coping weren't working.

Not long after I hit forty, I couldn't shake the truth that something needed to change. My desire to obsessively orchestrate what happened next was burning me out.

I ran out of gas.

Maybe the empty tank was God's way of bringing me to a dead stop, so I would finally pay attention. It worked. God got my attention, and maybe he's trying to get yours too.

Imagine that it's you who's run out of gas. Maybe that doesn't take much imagining after all, because like me, you're tired of trying to hold it together. You want to keep it all under control, but things aren't working out the way you planned.

If that sounds like you, picture it unfolding like this:

You're at the wheel, driving on fumes, pushing hard to get where you need to go because everyone is counting on you. The needle drops below E, and your car sputters to a stop, out of gas, at the edge of a dirt road. You are miles from where you want to be.

You rest your head on the steering wheel. It was only a matter of time. Here you are now. Empty.

But you are not alone.

Along comes a man, walking down the road toward you. The closer he gets, the more familiar he seems — the warm expression on his face, the worn hands, the creases around his eyes. You roll down the window, and he gives you an invitation, rolled up like a scroll. He waits, hands on his hips, smiling, because he's finally got your attention.

The hand-lettering reads: "You are cordially invited to embrace a new way of living. Help is here."

Sitting at the wheel, you feel your heart beat fast, as if a geyser has erupted inside your chest. You rarely ask for help, though let's be honest, you've needed help for a long time.

The man's eyes twinkle when he tells you that he can help you slow your frenetic pace to discover the life you were actually made for — a life of meaning, depth, and purpose.

Who wouldn't want this?

Your soul begs you to say yes. Because everywhere you go these days, you're pushing too hard. You're always in a hurry, eyes straight ahead, missing all the scenery. You arrive everywhere exhausted, with the tank near empty. Remember the days when you used to run your race feeling like a million bucks? You were driven and energetic; you made things happen. You were on your game, and nobody could stop you. You ran your race well, didn't you, girl? But lately, you feel like you're dragging a one-hundred-pound sack of bowling balls with you.

What if this invitation offers a way to travel lighter and be who you were meant to be, deep down?

You want to say yes, but you're scared of what this might cost you. Because you are the girl who is laser focused and responsible. You are never needy. So many people count on you. If you say yes to the invitation, what will you have to say no to? Whom will you disappoint? If you let go of everything you're holding on to, what might break? This all feels new and out of control, an unsteady, shifting place for a woman who has managed to make everyone believe she's got it "all under control."

The invitation is beautiful — but it isn't safe.

The man at the window is Jesus. You knew that.

Look, he won't force you to leap into the life you were made for, but he will shamelessly entice you. Come, he says. I want to help.

This is your invitation, the help your weary soul longs for.

Will you say yes?

The Relentless Ways of Jesus

I said yes.

I would have been crazy not to — and you can't convince me otherwise, now that I know what I know.

But I didn't know any of that at first.

I'm the mom who habitually runs our Ford Explorer's gas tank ridiculously close to empty. My record low on the digital gas gauge is an impressive two miles to empty.

I have managed my life the same way, running on fumes.

When I finally ran out of gas in my life, I saw Jesus coming down the dirt road.

He had been relentless for years, let me tell you. He delivered his invitation during a dozen Bible studies, countless nights of bed-tossing uneasiness, and those sermons that suddenly had me sitting up straight in my pew, like I'd been caught in the act.

I should have RSVP'd way back when, but I kept pushing, kept trying to hold it all together.

My condition: control.

Jesus spent years trying to tame my rather robust inner control freak. That side of me emerges at the mileposts of life, and also in the everyday moments: when team members in a project don't fulfill their obligations, when parked cars take up two spaces in the Target lot, when an airline pilot's youthful appearance leaves me with the sudden urge to research his credentials. Just last week, my inner control freak was triggered at the outdoor water park, where a whole army of shrieking kids were bobbing around in too-deep water as their Coppertone-slathered mothers worked on their tans. Like every other mom, I had come to the pool for fun, with a short stack of books and a foldable chair. But I couldn't find my chill anywhere. I was suddenly responsible for all the kids, and all the water, and all the possible pee in the pool. I had appointed myself chief of all the diving boards, all the slippery walkways, and all the sunscreen application. It's all up to ME! Everyone's life is in my hands!

So, yes, even there, Jesus encountered me, striding up sandal-footed next to my leopard-print flip-flops. He delivered that hand-lettered invitation poolside, a way of saying, "It's not all up to you, baby."

Oh, the indefatigable ways of Jesus. He slipped the invitation under the office door and under the pillow, between the pages of my too-full calendar and into my dream life, where my subconscious self always seems to be the first to know that I've stretched myself too thin, even as the rest of me fakes some semblance of fine. You know the kind of dream I'm talking about. It's the one in which you show up to college graduation, and only then do you remember that you forgot to attend all the required classes.

The invitations kept coming, and it was always my choice whether to RSVP.

I didn't say yes at first because of my vigorous control freakery. I didn't know what to do with that kind of invitation.

Here's why:

I like to gather up all the parts of my life into a neat pile, strategize exactly how they should turn out, and then ask God to bless my plans.

If I said yes to the invitation, what would it actually look like to let God take control? After all, I couldn't simply hand God my life and walk away while Jesus folded my husband's underwear and took all my calls.

So much of life clearly can't be opted out of. People depend on me. I have kids to feed. A house to manage. Books to write. Committees on which to serve.

Most people can't simply fire their lives and move on when it all gets too chaotic. We need something more tangible than a slick phrase like "Just give it over to the Lord." Jesus calls us to something more sacrificial than running from responsibility. Following Jesus takes real work. Raising kids takes actual effort. We can't stop managing a household, cancel all our appointments, and spend the rest of our days on a floatie in the middle of a lake.

There are parts of my life where I don't get to throw my hands in the air and say, "I quit, God! This is all on you!" Believe me, there are times I want to. There are areas where I do want to channel my inner Elsa and "let it go." There are times I want to give it all to him — a complete handover — and spend the rest of the year hiding under the covers while eating entire bags of BoomChickaPop kettle corn.

But Jesus shows up at the foot of the bed and says, "Come on out, girl. You can do this. I am with you. Do. Not. Give. Up."

Spiritual surrender is more complex than any Christian platitude. And it's far more uncomfortable. I knew that if I said yes to his invitation, this partnership with Jesus would ask something of me. It would ask for all of me.

It will ask for all of you too.

The Comfort of Control

Confession: I have loved the steady comfort of control — even though it was only an illusion.

Control had become a coping mechanism to numb myself from the pain of life. I believed that even if I couldn't control the big things, I could at least try to control the little stuff: what I put in my mouth, how many steps I tallied on my Fitbit, my gray hairs, the vacuum lines in the carpet, how I scheduled every minute of every day, what you thought about me when I talked with you.

This has made me very busy, of course, and probably fairly annoying.

I've generally been able to handle a lot of tasks at once, and I've always been an achiever who won't easily back down from a challenge. Hard work has never scared me. But I can't begin to tell you how much my inner achiever propels me into dangerously high gear. I can't begin to tell you how I willingly withstand the mental pressure of believing I have to be "in control," reliable, on top of all the things — and how often that self-pressure completely breaks me. I've learned to hide the fractured debris of my overworked life. You will rarely find me confessing my anxiety. Why? Because that would make me appear too needy. You will never see me posting about it on Facebook with one of those cryptic messages: "Unspoken prayer request." Sadly, for a long time I didn't even ask my closest friends for prayer. I wouldn't have told them about the times my stress was so high that I would tremble and feel unable to breathe.

I kept saying I was fine.

But I wasn't fine.

I wanted help but didn't know how to ask for it. I said I trusted God but had reached the point where I realized I actually didn't. As a Jesus girl, this shocked me.

I had built my image as the helper, not as the helped. My life looked like this: Here, let me write you another blog post. Here, let me send you an encouraging text. Sure, I can donate to your cause. Sure, I'll fill the spot on the committee. Sure, I can speak at your event.

I was generally good at all of those tasks, but every yes became another drain on the internal gas tank. I had made myself indispensable and needed, and when insistent people handed me more responsibility, I stuffed it in the trunk of the car and forged ahead on the journey because "it was all under control."

All of this doing and striving was supposed to bring me happiness. With great surprise, I realized that it wasn't working out that way at all. Trying to wrap my arms around everything and everyone felt like attempting to herd baby kittens.

I turned around to face my life and realized that the woman I'd become wasn't someone I wanted to be around. My calendar was crowded, and my body felt drained, pressurized, and frayed. I felt so much guilt because no matter what I was doing, I thought I should be doing something else. No matter what I did, it never seemed enough.

I began to ask myself questions like:

If I'm doing so much for others, why do I feel so distant from them?
The answers to those questions became the book that you're holding in your hands.

I realized that I, the woman who had it "all under control," wasn't in control after all.

At last, I said yes to Jesus.

I accepted his frightening, exquisite, life-altering, outrageous invitation.

This book is my yes. I am writing every word of this book as if I were sitting next to you, at the side of a road, with your own gas-gauge needle on E.

Jesus is with us. He's handing you the same invitation that he gave me: "You are cordially invited to embrace a new way of living. Help is here."

Strip Off Every Weight

I'm not the only one who needs help.

I know I'm not the only one because I've heard your pain. I've cried with you. I've read your e-mails in my in-box. I've watched you burn brightly, then flame out because you took on way too much. I see how you never say no because you can't handle the idea of disappointing anyone.

Underneath all of that "fine," you are in emotional pain. These are the sources of your distress:

* Some of your pain came because of all the things you're trying to do. You are tired.

* Some of your pain came because of all the things that happened to you. You are broken.

I saw life knock you down when you thought it was all under control. I attended your son's funeral. I cried with you after you found out about the affair. I held your hand after the miscarriage. I sat with you after you got the diagnosis. I drove you to your first appointment with your counselor.

This is who we are: We are women who are trying. Trying to hold it together for the sake of the family. Trying to give our best to our churches and jobs. Trying to be there emotionally and physically for the people we love. Trying to help our grown-up kids make good choices and then trying not to feel hurt when they tell us, "You're not helping, Mom; you're meddling."

I'm not the only one, and friend, you're not the only one either. So many things blindside all of us every day, and we can't control any of it.

The weather. Delayed flights. Our health. That awful text message. The traffic. The paths our kids choose. Our fertility — or lack thereof.

We ask for a map to deal with all of this, but instead Jesus gives us a compass and says, "Follow me."

Without a well-marked map, we try to draw our own. We execute plans to control this out-of-control life because we fear what will happen if we don't.

Along comes the invitation.

I have important news about this offer. It won't ask you to be someone you're not. It doesn't come with some unrealistic demand that you are suddenly going to stop being the incredibly brave and brilliant woman that you are. This invitation appreciates God's remarkable design in you. You're the capable kind of woman who reaches for the stars and gets things done. Do you know what a wonder you are?

You don't settle. You are the sort of woman we can count on to meet a work deadline, organize a food drive, take in the neighbors' kids during an emergency, drive your coworker to chemo, counsel a friend at 3 a.m. by text message, keep track of everyone's appointments, and make sure we're all wearing seat belts before you drive us on the three-day adventure that you single-handedly arranged. You're the one standing next to me at the pool, ready to rescue any swimmer in distress. Solidarity, my friend.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "It's All Under Control"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Jennifer Dukes Lee.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

1 Invitation: The Help Your Weary Soul Longs For 1

2 Illusion: The Reason We Are the Way We Are 23

3 Awesome: When Being "In Control" Gets Out of Control 43

4 Superpowers: Uncovering Your Strengths, Your Kryptonite, and That Line We All Tend to Cross 61

5 Hang On: Finding the Courage to Do Really Hard Things 75

6 Let Go: Finding the Strength to Open Your Hands 93

7 Switcheroo: Why Every Control Freak Needs to Take God Off Her To-Do List 115

8 Clueless: What to Do When God's To-Do List Makes Zero Sense 133

9 Room: It's Time to "Do, Delegate, or Dismiss" 151

10 Help: The Three Best Words You Can Say to Loosen Your Control 165

11 Wait: Learning to Pause When You Want to Push 185

12 Whole: Relaxing Your Body … Your Mind … Your Soul 201

13 Rest: The Real Reason You Feel Busy but Not Productive 217

14 Guarantee: Plans, Pinings, and a Promise 235

Acknowledgments 251

Control Code Continuum 255

The Three Control Characters 257

Decision Tree 265

Do, Delegate, or Dismiss 266

Endnotes 267

About the Author 271

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