I think the last few days I’m facing up to my desire for control. I mentioned it in my last post a few days ago; it’s refreshing to find that the local learning group I need to facilitate I can’t actually control. There have also been some recent things both at work and with my family, where my first reaction, particularly when I am feeling unsure about something is to try and control it. When I get into that mode, I also then start to get more anxious and feel more stressed; I also, rather arrogantly start to assume responsibility for more than is actually mine to be responsible for. Although I don’t like to hear it / face it / recognise it, my desire for control is also not necessarily great for other people. At times it can suppress others gifts / involvement / skills / talents, which is a real turn off for other people, and isn’t doing anything to spread love, faith or hope. When I get in that mode, it’s also not bringing out the best in me either.

I think I need to learn to recognise more quickly when I’ve made that switch; especially as it’s not great for me or anyone else! The danger for me, though, is if I decide that I’m not in control I can get quite black & white about it, and almost ping from ‘control’ to ‘apathy’ and totally switch off – a not particularly attractive streak in myself, and again, also not particularly helpful for anyone I’m around.

As I’m starting my studies, I can feel myself pinging between these two states of ‘control’ and ‘apathy’. I feel that I need to discover a new, greyer area somewhere in the middle, a healthy state of balance; where I can feel part of what’s going on, fully engaged, but without trying to unhealthily control or take over situations.

When I look at my family, things have been better recently when I have made a conscious decision not to overstep that mark and not to try and take responsibility for things /people / situations that are not ‘mine’ to do.

It reminds me of a phrase that Wanda Nash gave us at a retreat a few years ago ‘Do not feel totally, irrevocably responsible for everything, that’s my job, love God.’ How true it is, and how much I still need to take that in and let it take root in me.

The other aspect of this control for me is the area of self-control. As someone who has been seriously overweight for many years, this is an area that I have let get totally out of control. Since this time last year I have been dieting, and have made serious inroads into sorting out my weight problem (my bmi has now come down from 45 to 28); however, I still need to work through this issue of self-control. I have lost most of this weight through a very low calorie diet.  I feel fantastic when I am on it, and totally in control – but then I get this black and white thinking… either I’m on the diet, and sticking to 3 packs a day; or I’m off the diet and it’s fine to eat an entire packet of chocolate buttons and half a tub of ice cream… pinging from extreme control to a completely free license to indulge. Again, I know the route forward long term is finding a path of balance, of some degree of self-control, but not total control.

Having said that, I am opting to go the control route to lose the last two stone, to get me all the way to a healthy bmi. I know I feel good on the diet, and I believe I can actually achieve this weight loss if I follow the plan. (Part of me still believes some of my old ways of thinking where I didn’t believe it was even possible for me to be ‘overweight’, let alone to set my goal of being ‘healthy’)

Hmmm, anyway, enough waffling about control tonight. Time to exert my last bit of control and nearly meet my aim of going to bed by 10pm, to try and reduce the tiredness!

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Week One

Well, I’m a week into it now. The first weekend at college was last weekend. It was great to meet the other students on the course; 28 of us in total, and only 5 chaps in the group. I feel happier having met the other students as well as the staff on the course, to start putting faces to names and to start getting more of a feel for the course. It also feels like a real time of transition. It’s taken me 10 years of pondering, prayer and faffing to get to this point; it’s been a potential future for such a long time, but now it’s time to actually get my head down and get stuck into the study.

It was good to sit down with my training minister this week, and to talk through expectations. I was also really relieved to meet my tutor this week. I will be having a 1:1 tutor, as there are no other tutees in this area. I was a little nervous going to meet her in the week, as 3 years 1:1, I really hoped that we would hit it off, and that the conversation would flow / we’d be able to work together. It was a good sign when I said that I was nervous and she said that she had been too. I hadn’t really thought of it from her side, but I guess equally unsure what I would be like and whether I would engage easily in conversation.

I’ve found this week quite hard, getting my head into the studies. It’s a long time since I’ve read books in an academic way; i.e. where I need to actually take in & digest what I’m reading, and potentially be able to do something with the information. I’m slowly finding my way back into taking notes, and that heavier concentration while reading to get my head round the concepts. We have our first assignment already; to pick a prayer, hymn or psalm and reflect on our response to it. I’m unsure at the moment which text to pick; I’m also feeling a little nervous about putting together my first assignment -particularly a reflective one. It will be good though, to try and work out my response to a text, and work through my affective response to it – I think I find it easier to hide behind the head type response rather than the heart.

The other part of the course that I’ve started to get my head round is the local learning group. I need to create / facilitate a small group of people as we go through the course. The aims are to help keep me grounded in reality! And to help me bring theology into conversation / discussion with others. In preparing /thinking about it, I’ve realised that my strong desire to control things is rearing its head again; especially as I’m feeling unsure about what the group will be like, and what we will discussing. Almost the more unsure / insecure I feel about something, the more I want to contain it, control it and direct it. I’ve deliberately invited some people to join the group that will challenge me on that; and will pick up when I’m doing it too! However, I’m still feeling that need / want to control. So for me, at the moment, I know when in the next year the groups will happen, but other than the first group, I don’t have any idea what we will be asked to do within the group. I like to get my head around things, to plan; and also I feel like I want to be able to share that plan with the group… now part of that, I think, is that I want to be in control of what we will be discussing, and where that discussion might go… I’m feeling the need to control what God might do with the group, and direct it…. eeek, how arrogant is that?! So I need to continue to learn to let go, to trust God and to trust the other people. To use this group as an opportunity to let the group develop its own way; for me to truly facilitate it, to listen to those within the group, and be guided by them. (I have a lot of learning to do.)

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