LETTING GO OF CONTROL
“I was struggling with the decision to move out on my own and leave my husband who was a very nice man. It got to a point where I thought I was choking, I couldn’t cope. I struggled for a year, but luckily I had a couple of friends who were really spiritual and they would say, ‘Just leave it in God’s hands.’ I found it hard because I am so used to controlling my life. We—my husband and I—didn’t become wealthy overnight; we worked at it, we planned, we wanted this life for ourselves. And so, we controlled things. I prayed, I went to church. But I always felt like I needed to be in control.
It was a time when I had to say, ‘Whatever you want, you decide what I have to do with my life, what choices I have to make.’ Then I thought, ‘Oh, is that a cop out. You can’t actually make the decision yourself so you’re asking God to handle your decisions.’ And then I didn’t know if the decision I made was good or bad. But I had to do it because I made it. I decided to leave. And after that was when I really let go because I made the decision. I couldn’t go back.
At 40 I moved out on my own, got this little apartment, and became a teacher. I just felt something was leading me. There were always circumstances that led to what I’m doing now in my life. I had a chance meeting with someone and they said, ‘Why don’t you do this course?’ When I did the course another person said, ‘Oh I know someone. These people are looking for teachers.’ It was not just coincidence.
I always believed there was somebody else guiding my life. When I look at all the blessings in my life, they have not come from me. I’ve worked hard, but somebody up there was and is guiding my life. Right now I may not have the money I had two, three, or four years ago. I don’t have the lifestyle and the cars and servants and the jet set travel and all that, but I’m OK. I have a nice little place and I have a great job and I have super friends who like me for me and not for the rich person with all the fancy stuff. I think of all the blessings I’ve got in my life and I think, really, if I was such a bad person—which I used to think I was—surely God wouldn’t have blessed me so much.”
I met Karen Green in Muscat, Oman in the Arabian Gulf in 2009 when I took a side trip from Abu Dhabi to Oman. What an amazing country—it looks just like what ancient Arabia must have looked like with white buildings and big beautiful reddish-brown mountains. Oman has attracted many immigrants from India, Pakistan, and various British Commonwealth countries who come there to work with oil companies and related industries. Karen Green’s story is that she worked hard with her ex-husband to become wealthy and was, by her own admission, used to controlling everything in her life. She reflected, “We didn’t become wealthy overnight you know, we worked at it, we planned, we wanted this life for ourselves my husband and I.” But then she made the difficult decision to leave her marriage. Meeting Karen was a profoundly inspiring experience as she reflected on the spiritual meaning of going from wealth to absence of wealth, on the meaning of not working to working, and on the value of putting her life in the hands of God and the universe and letting go of trying to control everything.
I can relate to these same lessons in my life, particularly letting go of control. It seems that we are often rewarded for being in control. But, for me, the need to control came with anxiety and worry. Part of my own need to control was the need to have enough money so I couldn’t be controlled by others—a fallacy and a leftover of growing up around others who had more than my family did (although we had more than enough). In fact, what I have come to understand spiritually is that there are really only two lies in life: 1) That we are not enough, and 2) That we won’t have enough. When I am in “faith” or as I prefer to say, “in oneness with the universe and the sacredness of all things,” then I know I am enough and I don’t need anything more than what is in front of me in that moment. In fact, this reminds me of another spiritual saying: “Lust is wanting anything other than what God has given me at this very moment.” This is not an argument against ambition, which I prize but, rather, peace with all that is, and seeing life as a constant flow.
When I reconnected with Karen on Facebook, I learned she is happily remarried. I know that her time single and her work taught her many lessons that cannot be replaced. I am grateful that I got to spend time with her at that moment in time where she could teach me about the value of letting go of control, and being enough and having enough.