Health

4 Energy Draining Habits to Give Up Right Now

Here’s how I know when I’ve gone too far. When I get so overwhelmed with busyness that my spiritual growth stagnates, that’s a huge red flag. God will never ask you or me to stretch ourselves so thin that we don’t have time for him.

Written by Jennifer Dukes Lee, Author of It’s All Under Control 
Adapted by Natalie Bellantuono, Consumer Marketing Manager

It is sometimes said that surrender is what happens when God hands you a blank piece of paper with a signature line at the bottom; then you hand it back to Him to fill in as He wills. For anyone who wants to have life “all under control,” that kind of surrender is terrifying!

Ask yourself this: What would it look like to have blank-paper trust with God? What would it look like to open your fists in order to receive God’s best for your life?

So much of life feels out of control, doesn’t it?

Even if we’re not in the middle of a crisis, everyday life feels chaotic. We do our best to wrap our hands around everything: our busy schedules, our children, our work responsibilities, our relationships. We want to have it “all under control,” but most of the time, life feels anything but.

Author Jennifer Dukes Lee writes in her book It’s All Under Control that control can be something quite out of our 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. . . .

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. . . .

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.

How true is that? Our attempts to control, to do everything and take charge of everyone very often ends in disappointment and, even more so, a feeling that we’ve let ourselves and our loved ones, our colleagues and ministry partners down.

So how do we get out of this cycle? Here are four energy-draining habits to give up right now, to loosen our grip on life and hand the wheel back to God—the only One who is truly in control:

1. Stop trying to rack up your “scorecard” with Jesus. Envy and self-comparison are such easy sins to fall into. We look at others who appear to have everything right. It’s all under control for them; how do we compare to them? Are we doing enough for the Kingdom? Do we know enough Scripture? Are we spending enough time with God and hearing from Him? They appear to make it all look so easy!

How much energy have you wasted worrying about how you compare to others, how you look to others, and how well Jesus favors you in comparison to them?

Dukes Lee explains the real harm in this kind of control we want for ourselves in her book It’s All Under Control Bible Study: A 6-Week Guided Journey:

We get things twisted up, thinking that’s what God wants of us, too. Like he’s tallying up our “success” on a dry-erase board in the throne room. But scorecards can’t measure our relationship with Jesus. Our relationship with him isn’t built on the volume of our good deeds or by how busy we’ve been for the Kingdom.

No, our relationship is built on trust. . . .

Our culture encourages us to consistently look as if we have everything together. It also places great value on our busyness, as if worth lies somewhere between the lines of our calendar boxes.

But our worth is not predicated upon how much we’re doing; as she says, it’s all about how much trust we place in the Lord. Try to let go of your worries over comparison and “being enough”—you are enough, more than enough! Just do as He commands and follow Him.

2. Stop saying “yes” to everything. This one comes up time and again, especially within a church setting. We get involved with one ministry, make more friends, get invited to help with other ministries, and end up with a to-do list as long as our arm and no time to get all our errands done. And how hard is it to say no when someone asks you so sweetly to help just one night a week? In her Bible study, Jennifer Dukes Lee sets out what this should look like:

Healthy control is: saying yes to a God-given assignment and adding it to the [to-do] list.

Unhealthy control is: feeling like you need to say yes to every opportunity and every request, resulting in an overburdened life and an overwhelming list.

You’ve probably felt this way already—that it’s just too hard to say no. And you shouldn’t have to say no to everything; just bear in mind what is do-able within your own time. Then once you do say no, it’s a lot easier to wrestle back control of your time and be more discerning about other opportunities. Your ministry friends will still fully appreciate all the time you are able to give.

3. Stop trying to get it all done on your own and ask for help. In her book, Dukes Lee helps us with the “Do, Delegate, or Dismiss” technique:

Let me confess that I tend to take on far more than I should. . . . Clearly so much of what we’re called to do we can’t simply opt out of. But we need to carefully evaluate everything on our agenda to make sure it aligns with God’s. I generally have a high tolerance for heavy workloads, but just because I can doesn’t mean I should.

Here’s how I know when I’ve gone too far. When I get so overwhelmed with busyness that my spiritual growth stagnates, that’s a huge red flag. God will never ask you or me to stretch ourselves so thin that we don’t have time for him.

That’s where the “Do, Delegate, or Dismiss” technique [detailed further in her book, It’s All Under Control], comes into play. With this strategy, I listen for God’s direction on what to do, where to delegate, and what to simply dismiss. And then when I sense God’s leading, I must . . . be obedient to his direction.

Obedience means that I will likely have to say no to many opportunities, thus disappointing someone who has relied on me in the past. Disappointing someone can feel shameful.

Obedience also means I might have to accept help. I’m terrible at asking for help. I’d rather be the helper instead of the helped. I don’t like feeling needy. Asking for help requires a stripped-down vulnerability. When we ask for help, we are moving closer to an intimacy with people that feels a little dangerous. . . .

When we’re stretched too thin and unwilling to ask for help, our relationships may suffer most—including our relationship with the Lord. Often one sign that I’m too busy is feeling distant from God. . . . When I get too busy trying to control too much, my spiritual growth is stagnant.

Do you need to begin using the “Do, Delegate, or Dismiss” technique in your life? Pray for God’s guidance, and trust that asking for help is all part of God’s plan. After all, we can’t do Christian life on our own, nor are we designed to; that’s why we have churches and community!

4. Stop running on all cylinders and allow yourself to rest. In the Bible study, Dukes Lee cites a quotation from Charles Spurgeon:

“Stand still”; keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long before God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.”

She continues:

Wait on the Lord.

Wait. [Don’t] run ahead, or manage outcomes for God. Simply wait, and as you wait, you rest. But let me be honest with you. I laughed out loud when I first read that Spurgeon quote. Unlike Spurgeon, I’ve found waiting to be neither a cheerful experience nor one that inspires patience.

In It’s All Under Control, I confess one reason I’m not naturally good at waiting: “Waiting makes me feel powerless and sometimes hopeless. But God is teaching me something very important about waiting with my unmet longings: While we’re waiting, God is working.”

Dukes Lee expands this idea in her Bible study:

No, I’m not naturally good at waiting, which for me, means I’m also not very good at resting. Resting feels risky. Why? If I’m resting, I might have to feel things I don’t want to feel. For me, work can become something like a culturally acceptable drug—a distraction of sorts, so I don’t have to deal with the hard stuff in my life. . . .

The trouble is, we can get so busy, so distracted, so overloaded with obligations that we can’t hear the voice of God.

Learn to rest so that, at last, you can hear the peaceful voice of the Lord. Rather than constantly striving, we can be at peace in the midst of silence and quietness. Let’s pray that God will help us exchange our drive for control with a desire for calm.


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

“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.

Learn More HERE>>

Abbi grew up in the Chicago suburbs and has not left. She works with the team to develop and post content and sales throughout the Tyndale website. She recently married her husband, Stanley, and they are raising their two "fur babies", Bagheera and Mushi. When she isn't at work, she enjoys spending time outdoors, hanging out with friends, and taking trips to new places.

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