Such a simple question, loaded with implications. If you feverishly watched the series The Last of Us like I did, you will remember this important line from our antihero, Joel. In the moment of crisis, he asks this of Ellie, and it is a key moment in the story to come. He asks her to trust him, not knowing the full plan, not knowing the outcomes, just that they would be doing this together.
Trust and control walk hand in hand. Trust relies on consistent behaviour and our best interests being kept in mind. Control is our sense of agency, and our ability to make decisions that reflect our will. When we trust we ultimately give some element of control to another. The balance between the two are reflective in all of our relationships and we should always be learning how they work together healthily.
So, are you in control?
A key component to accepting change is how we view our sense of control. It walks closely with how we walk through grief. If you have gone through grief, and I imagine you have in some way or another, you have experienced the stages. At every level there is a sense of losing control over part of our world, maybe our identity, our self-awareness, or questioning things that seemed concrete and immovable to us. We grieve every stage of life in different ways as we move forward because each one is unique, meaningful, and is given away to receive the next.
But we do not place the same level of importance on each item we leave behind.
The problem for most of us, especially with all the modern trappings that seek to distract us, is…well, the modern trappings that seek to distract us. And no one really likes to feel down about things. But when we do not give honour to what is important in our lives we struggle to give the right things away in a healthy manner. Big things become small, small things become big…
This is where I often talk to people considering changes to life, work, organization, etc. about ownership. There is healthy ownership and there is unhealthy ownership. Healthy ownership is represented by initiative, sharing, joy, and at some point, release as a gift. Unhealthy ownership is represented by ‘othering’, dominance, obligation, and an inseparable grip. This is the balance of trust and control at work. Do you trust others with what you have? What do you control?
When change comes, and it always does, we have to ask what we control and what we need to release. In church life, we can easily lose trust and feel like we are losing control, especially if change is being asked of us. This is where we need to sit in the moment of grief and ask what it is exactly we feel we are losing, and is it worth holding. Or does it need to be released. Church is only one example of organizational life we hope will remain constant and stationary for us; always there when we leave, always the same. But things change.
How does control impact your view of the relationships you have? Think of all the many social groups and organizations you are part of. Are you OK with how they change?