CONTROL: Dealing with situations we can’t control

STAY STONG Ahner no chapter

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt helpless? All of us have. Whether it is a family member’s illness or our own; or someone we love making bad choices; or a circumstance happening that we don’t want to happen—it’s an awful feeling when you feel like there is nothing you can do.

This topic is different from being in a situation where we can do something about it– and I’ll address that at another time.  Today is where the first line of the serenity prayer comes in:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Sometimes in life there are bumps along the road which we just have to ride out. If that is you right now, maybe this Bible verse can help you:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  — Isaiah 41:10

I remember when my little niece was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, I was so scared I could barely think. I literally thought about it all the time and I had to figure out ways to calm down– because I had children to raise and a husband that needed my attention, and also I was around her and her sisters. Was I going to fall apart or was I going to try to help myself so I could be of help to others? I call this “choosing happy.”

Of course I’m not happy in that situation but I knew I had to get a grip on my situation. One thing that helped is that I saw something that said the Bible contains the sentiment “Don’t be Afraid” more than 365 times—that’s one for every day of the year. Just picturing God saying, “”Don’t be afraid” to me really gave me peace.

I also liked listening to that song, “Be Not Afraid”  written by Bob Dufford  sung by Michael Talbot. It is so peaceful and really helps center me.

The worst is when you are going through something and well-meaning people say things like “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” or “God has a plan for your life.”  I’m a Christian but I still don’t like things that carelessly being said to me when I’m in a bad situation.

If you know someone who is going through something, these are probably statements to stay away from. And if you can’t help yourself, maybe expound on then.  Try a little empathy—“They say God doesn’t give us more than we can handle but –good grief, this is ridiculous!” or instead of just “God has a plan”—find a verse that could possibly be of help.

If you are the person going through the tough time and you’ve about had it up to here with people telling you what you should do or how you should feel, try to look at what the person saying it to you is doing– or not doing for you. If they are there for you and trying to help, then maybe they just didn’t know what to say, so give them a pass. If you are getting advice you don’t appreciate from someone who isn’t helping—don’t listen.

Of course it’s true–  God DOES have a plan for all of us but hearing that expression tossed around lightly when we are scared, hurting, and losing control of a situation does not help us. Good old-fashioned support is what we need.

It’s amazing how great it feels to have someone call you or leave you a note of encouragement just to let them know they are there for you. A phone call or even just a little heart emoji on a text can do a world of wonders for a person going through a trying situation. And if it’s you—sometimes we have to be our own advocate. Sometimes we have to be our own best friend and do things for ourselves, We can make it through this situation.

One of my favorite Bible verses of encouragement is:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm youplans to give you hope and a future.     –2. Jeremiah 29:11

When we are in the midst of a crisis—a situation that is beyond our control—it is nice to think that we can have “hope and a future.”

Recently I have been in a situation where I had no control—yet I wanted to be able to have things turn out just the way I wanted. I wanted everything go go right and everyone to be happy and healthy, I tried my best to make everything right, but guess what? This is the time that I realize I am NOT in control.

God is in control. I can try to do the best I can in a situation, but ultimately God is in control. It is He who controls how the weather will be—not the weatherman. It is He who controls how we will feel or recover from a surgery—not the doctor. It’s not His fault if it rains or the recovery takes a long time, but rather– if we let Him– He will be right there with us as we endure those storms of our lives.

I don’t have any idea why something may happen. I can’t snap my fingers and you and I will be better with no problems– but I do know I want to live through it and see the sunshine on the other side, so it’s up to me to try to save myself and help others. You can too.

Life happens and sometimes it is chaotic. It’s so frustrating watching someone suffer. And it’s awful if you are the one who is suffering when there is seemingly nothing you can do at that time.

What can we do when we can’t do anything?  We can calm ourselves down and get centered.  Being in the whirlwind of trying to control a chaotic situation does us no good. We find ourselves consumed with worry, spinning in all directions, and then anger comes in. None of it helps.

We need to figure out a way to “choose happy” even in the worst of situations if we are going to survive.

We need to find a way to get peace in our heart. Sometimes quieting our mind can give us a good idea that can help. In those situations where we really can’t change what is happening at the time, making the effort to find peace in our hearts will at least bide our time in a better way than moping and being angry.

Bible Verse:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.   — Joshua 1:9


 You may not be able to control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou

Action Plan:

Get your notebook out. In our first blog we mentioned it might be a good idea to buy a notebook so you can jot down things that either inspire you or things you want to work on. Or if you don’t write it down, take the time to think about these things:

  1. Think about your situation. Is it something you can control if you do some work and make some effort, or something you truly have not control over? If you realize there are changes you can make to help the situation, jot down some of your ideas about this. If you are in a situation where the events that are happening are something you don’t have the power over, jot down what your situation is. Write about how you are feeling at the moment and how you can bide your time to make this not as bad as it could be.
  2. In your notebook (or in your mind) go over a few things that can make you feel better no matter what the situation is. Do you need to find immediate peace right now like take a bubble bath, light a candle or find a song you like to listen to or –is it something bigger like is there someone you can talk to who you know will help you just by being there? Is there someone you could talk to? Sometimes we get the best support in the strangest places—from people we may not have even known before this or someone we have never confided our personal life to. These are the times we find little “happies” in the midst of our situations. You might make a new friend, find a new side to an old friend or be blessed by someone you never thought you would be.
  1. If you are waiting for your life to change or get better—maybe you could read a book or listen to a podcast so that you can work on yourself during this time. Some examples of this are sitting in the waiting room outside the ICU, if you are recovering from an accident or surgery, or if you are watching helplessly as a loved-one is making what you feel are bad choices—at this particular moment you really can’t do anything; but you CAN choose how you will face your situation. Do you spend endless hours scanning Facebook or Twitter? Are you reading all the old magazines sitting in the waiting room? Are you moping around? Why not take this opportunity to let your mind grow? Of course I would recommend reading my book “Choose Happy” but there are a many inspirational books and articles you can read—and the Bible is definitely a good choice.

When my grandma was in the hospital, Grandpa would sit in the room with her all day.  She was in bad shape at that point and there was nothing he could do about the situation during her long recovery. What did he do? He memorized the poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”  The man was 80 years old but he did not let his bad situation define him, he did something.  And one day at a family gathering he astonished his children and his grandchildren by reciting it with no notes!

  1. Is there someone you know who is going through something? Someone who could use a cheery word or some words of encouragement? Even though you have problems of your own it might help you to put a little focus on someone else and send that little heart emoji in a text or give someone a call,
  2. If anything you read here gave you any ideas feel free to share then with us and subscribe to this blog. If it helped you and you know someone else who could use some encouragement, please forward this to them

If you are the mom of a child with cancer in the Greater St. Louis Area and would like a free copy of Choose Happy, please contact us.

If you are in a bad situation and feel reading the book could help you but you can’t afford it please contact me about that also. My life is really not about how many books I sell but about how many people get helped by my book.

One last thought:

When times were tough and it seemed like there was no way out my dad would say, “There’s only one way to go, kid, and that’s up!”

Now go do something to choose happy, you can do it!



How to Buy Choose Happy; Find Contentment in Any Situation

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Choose Happy; Find Contentment in Any Situation

Two editions: Black and White and Partial Color