Thursday, November 5, 2020. That was the day when I realized that I had a problem. Technically, that’s not the day that I realized that I had a problem, but specifically the day that he realized that I did. You see, earlier that morning he had a surgical procedure and that evening we were at his house. He told me that his colleague was going to bring him some food and I said, “no; no one needs to come in the house since you are recuperating.” Yep. I said that. Unbeknownst to me, that was the precise moment when he began to question everything and possibly plan his exit. I had my reasons. One of his coworkers played a cruel, drunken joke on me that caused me to look at all of his female coworkers in a new light, but still, that was not my place. Who was I to tell him who could and couldn’t come to his house? Who was I to dictate his life in such a way? Who was I to exert so much… control?
After about three days, I left his house and allowed him to continue his recovering journey without me. I was sad to leave him at the time, but little did I know that God had to heal more than just his physical body.
I have been clinically diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). For me, it’s not just what you’ve heard or read about. I don’t clean excessively and I am no Adrian Monk, touching every item that I pass a certain amount of times. No, for me, OCD means that I need order and organization; structure and reason go a long way with me. OCD for me means that I can walk into a room, cluttered with my things, and know if someone has been in my space. For me, my OCD combined with my anxiety, means that I can see an ant in one space of my home and frantically and laboriously clean every inch of my home for fear that others will appear. In my world, OCD means being able to control as much as I possibly can at any given moment. Simply put, I need control.
As the years have passed, I have travelled deeper and deeper into this OCD and anxiety tunnel. I cannot stay in hotels because my mind’s eye sees the microscopic germ particles of the guests before me. Even before Covid, buffets and smorgasbords were terrifying places to eat. I cannot touch certain materials and my hands have to feel a particular way or else I must rewash them. I have many more idiosyncrasies, but I’ll leave it here because I don’t want to scare you off. Suffice to say, I need to know that there are some things that I need to be able to control.
But, Beloved, relationships ain’t it.
For the month of November, God has had my in Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. After a conversation with my bestie, God softly began speaking to me and sweetly called me to this one passage of the Bible. He wanted me to see how He designed love to be so that I could not only give that love to others, but that I would recognize that love when it is given to me. With each call to 1 Corinthians 13, God was saying, “Chelle, this is love” and speaking it over every situation in my life. When I felt helpless at work, “Chelle, this is love.” When I felt suffocated in my house with these house guests, “Chelle, this is love.” When I felt unsuccessful in my charitable doings, “Chelle, this is love.” When I felt stressed out by and unsure about him, “Chelle, this is love.” God constantly pointed me back to His word and continued to remind me of what He created love to be.
“Chelle, this is love.”
Without opening my journal, I don’t remember what I was thinking on October 6th, but for whatever God-reason, I created this image (see below). As I look at it today, all I hear is God gently saying, “Chelle, this is love.” Beyond just the people in the picture, the words are His words and He is- even now- swiftly speaking to my heart and calling me to understand that this is the love He created. I look at this picture today and as I read the words, the walls that have surrounded my heart slowly begin to crumble under the weight of His love. I can see and earnestly feel that love is all that is good and possess no evil or ill-will. Love builds and grows, allowing people to be both set free and matured in its arms. Love speaks when words cannot and love persists when fear and doubt try to rule. Love led to the giving of the greatest Gift of all time and that same love led to the redemption of souls even to this day.
Love is, by definition, liberating and therefore can never control.
For months I told this man that I loved him. I showered him with my “heart” and tried to make him feel as special as he had made me feel. I desperately wanted him to know that I felt his love and I, too, had love to give him. Yet all that came out of me was control.
On February 4, 1986, Janet Jackson released her studio album entitled, Control. It contained such hits as “What Have You Done for Me Lately”, “Nasty”, “Control”, “When I Think of You”, and “Let’s Wait Awhile.” Even though this album was released almost 6 months to the day before I was born, those are some of my FAVORITE Janet Jackson songs. As I think of the lyrics to the actual song Control, I can’t help but feel a bit of what Janet was singing about at the time. When you’ve spent your whole life, not in control of anything, you can eagerly gravitate towards the first glimpse of control. For me, that moment has always “come” when I entered into relationships with men. Despite what the Bible says about submission, I needed to be the one to move the wheels of the relationship and drive it all. I had to be in control… because control was what I lacked in my youth. But my guy does not deserve that; no one deserves that.
Beloved, the truth is, control is simply one’s heart trying to determine the outcome of a situation that only God can understand. The beauty of love is that it sets us free from our need to control things and simply trust God and his ways. With love, we can break the chains and bonds of such things like control and allow God to truly be the head of our lives.
Thinking back to my guy’s surgery. When I left on that Sunday morning after his surgery, I was so sad. I did not want to leave him and I proudly thought he needed me in order to recover. As it turns out, God was giving us time apart because both of us needed to heal, not just my guy. Yes, I needed to be healed of my desire to control everything. It’s been three weeks since I returned home and I can truly say that I feel God working on me. His work started by isolating me from everything that I thought I needed and could control, and instead beckoned me to Him. As I came to God and His call, God scraped out what was in my heart and replaced it with one thing- His love. With His love, I now see that I am free to trust, free to love, and free to release control.